Accept - Too Mean To Die
(Nuclear Blast Records - 2021)
One issue plaguing the evolution of veteran metal bands, is becoming overshadowed by their legendary past. This is not the case with Accept.
Original member, Wolf Hoffman, has endured multiple changes but has kept the integrity of Accept by choosing members wisely. 'Too Mean To Die' maintains the classic 1980’s sound and brings it into 21st century. It is a raw, heavy, menacing album that is apparent from the fearsome, killer cover artwork to every riff centric track. Seasoned Producer, Andy Sneap brings his classic metal finesse to the table but elevates the band and reaches their powerful potential.
Vocalist, Mark Tornillo, who joined Accept in 2009, is no stranger to the metal world. Previously fronting New Jersey based, TT Quick, Mark quickly became a mainstay on the New York/New Jersey metal scene. In fact, I was one of the locals who followed TT Quick and caught their ass-kicking live performances, regularly. Tornillo’s mighty pipes carry out his famous rock growl but can also master a charming melodic tone.
Newest guitar virtuoso member is none other than Philip Shouse of Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons fame, along with Uwe Lulis and Hoffmann - their guitar sound skillfully interweaves throughout the album, while Martin Motnick and Christopher Williams round out the rhythm section. 'Zombie Apocalypse' is an ideal choice as an opening track and introduction to 'Too Mean to Die'. It is old school metal with Tornillo’s forceful vocals taking on an Andi Deris style and even his spoken word is the raw metal quality that he owns so well. This opening marries old and new Accept and encapsulates what fans hunger for.
The title track 'Too Mean to Die' exemplifies the brilliance of Producer, Andy Sneap captivating a Judas Priest sound he perfected so well but makes it pertain to the archetypal sound of Accept. It is impossible not to headbang to this one. 'Overnight Sensation' is a single-worthy, commercial 1980’s L.A. Classic Metal with a Malice flair. While one of my favorite tracks 'No One’s Master' is a 'Walls of Jericho' era Helloweenesque power metal genius complete with brilliant guitar work.
'The Undertaker' commences with a melodic intro and becomes a creepy, metal induced construction about and undertaker, of course but not your typical funeral home director, but a sinister yet factual narrative and it is cool! What is a metal album without a power ballad? The challenge is to keep it from becoming a soppy attempt at softening a band signature sound at the risk of harder edged fans hitting skip. Accept can pull this off without losing who they are. Tornillo’s softer, clean vocals dance with an Ian Gillan strength, while he and the ensemble create a superb rock song.
Christopher Williams dynamo drumming launches 'How Do We Sleep', a relatable socially conscious choice with gorgeous melodic guitar and a fervent rhythm. Tornillo channels his perfected TT Quick sophistication with 'Not My Problem' which may possibly be an unconscious response to 'How Do We Sleep'. 'Too Mean to Die' concludes with the haunting 'Samson and Delilah'. An eastern sounding, evocative instrumental with magnificent guitar that dances like a snake charmer. The excellent rhythm section pulsates.
I have been an avid fan of Accept since I first saw them in an opening slot during the 1980's. I have heard different variations and several albums. Without a doubt, 'Too mean to Die' is one of the best metal albums I have heard to date. It is a massive, heart pumping, head banging stroke of genius.
By Dawn Belotti