Review: Accept – ‘Too Mean to Die’

German metal masters Accept return with their sixteenth studio album “Too Mean to Die”. The label “iconic”, when applied to bands, is probably overused but in this case, it rings true. The group have been part of the metal landscape since their debut in 1979 and have consistently released classic metal albums since then. Cited by many more modern bands as being an influence, and with “Fast as a Shark” often referred to as being one of the first speed metal songs, they’ve managed to create a catalogue of well-loved metal anthems that any band would be proud of.

For this release, the band has seen a couple of line-up changes with the addition of an extra guitarist, in the form of Philip Shouse, and new bass player Martin Motnik. Both joined back in 2019 but this will be the first Accept recording that they’ve played on. If you’ve ever been holidaying with Carnival Cruise Lines you may remember Martin as being the bass player in the ship’s band (…no really). He’s also played, as both a freelance studio and live bass player, with some of the biggest names in rock and metal.

Due to covid, the recording process was unfortunately interrupted and the guys were forced to take a break for a couple of months before returning to finish it. According to Wolf, during a recent interview, producer Andy Sneap was stuck in England so had to listen in to their sessions via Zoom calls. To my ear, the production hasn’t suffered at all due to this and the eleven tracks on display here sound great, just like you would expect an album from Mr. Sneap to be.

Opener “Zombie Apocalypse” kicks off with an intro riff that wouldn’t be out of place on an early Metallica album. The guitar sound is terrific. Indeed everything sounds crystal clear. The memorable catchy chorus here is a feature of much of the album. You’ll catch yourself humming the likes of “Sucks to be You”, “Overnight Sensation” and “The Undertaker” long after you stop listening to the songs.

One of the main reasons I enjoy Accept so much is not just the great song-writing but also Wolf’s endlessly inventive guitar playing. He doesn’t disappoint here and manages yet again to blend melodic motifs and shreddier parts into memorable sounding solos. It really inspires you to grab that guitar, that’s been sitting gathering dust in the corner, and attempt to play along.

The thing I love about this album, more so than the last few records, is the variety of songs on offer here. While there are a number of mid-paced metal songs there also faster songs such as the title track “Too Mean to Die”, a classically influenced instrumental “Samson and Delilah”, the classic rock and roll feel of “Overnight Sensation”, and even a ballad “The Best is Yet to Come”. All of this helps create a more balanced and interesting album. There’s also plenty of crowd-pleasing “whoa whoa” sections to sing along to when you see them live.

While the last few albums have been great I feel this album has a more classic Accept feel. It’s possibly a bit less intense and aggressive. For me, this is probably the best album they’ve done in a number of years and one that’ll find a permanent place on my playlist. Highly recommended for any fan of well-played traditional metal.

Reviewer: Martin Patterson

Available now on Nuclear Blast.

Black and white image – Iana Domingos

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