Album Review: Accept, "Too Mean to Die"

This here new ACCEPT album, Too Mean to Die, is literally nearly exactly what I expected with almost no surprises whatsoever. It’s the aural equivalent of the predictable but always satisfying protein paleo diet which keeps me skinny. It’s just what a knucklehead such as me wants, needs, and expects during these uncertain times.

But, I know what some of you are thinking, so let’s just get this out of the way before you have a convulsion. Peter Baltes, who played bass on every single Accept album prior to the new one, has been replaced by a new bassist named Martin Motnik from ULI JON ROTH’s band, leaving sexy balding beanpole lead guitarist Wolf Hoffman as the only original member of the band. Also, they added a third guitarist named Philip Shouse, who, I guess, is a second rhythm guitarist and whose name sounds a little too much like the German word for shit, but who is NOT shit! Hey, if they wanna split the money six ways, that’s not my problem.

I asked a buddy what he thought of an Accept without Peter Baltes, and his rather daft response was, “Accept? They haven’t been relevant since the Walter Mondale era.” I guess I should have asked someone who is more familiar with Accept. If you are not, here’s a quick breakdown of their career:

  • Classic Udo Dirkschneider Era (1976 – 1987): includes the albums Accept (1979), I’m a Rebel (1980), Breaker (1981), Restless and Wild (1982), Balls to the Wall (1983), Metal Heart (1985), and Russian Roulette (1986).
  • Brief Sellout David Reece Era (1987 – 1989): includes the album Eat the Heat (1989). Bonus album; the first U.D.O. album, Animal House (1987), which is a de facto Accept album.
  • 90s Second Udo Era (1992 – 1997): includes the albums Objection Overruled (1993), Death Row (1994), and Predator (1996).
  • Current Mark Tornillo Era (2009 – current): thus far includes the albums Blood of the Nations (2010), Stalingrad (2012), Blind Rage (2014), The Rise of Chaos (2017), and Too Mean to Die (2021).

Why does this breakdown matter? Simple; it’s been nearly twelve years since a singer from New Jersey named Mark Tornillo, formerly of a lesser known metal band called T.T. QUICK, took on the Herculean task of replacing Udo Dirkschneider on vocals, and, as far as I’m concerned, this modern version of Accept has already given us five similar sounding but consistently GREAT studio albums of pure, straight-forward, traditional heavy metal.

Thus, I’m more than willing to accept this Accept as its own band on its own terms, rather than think of them as the band that did “Fast as a Shark” in 1982. Hell, I’m so into these five later Accept albums, that I’d easily see an Accept gig where they only play songs from these and completely ignore the Udo albums.

Bottom line is, if you have a guitarist named Wolf Hoffman ripping neoclassical or -- in the case of the album closing instrumental “Samson and Delilah” -- Middle Eastern guitar solos out of his Flying V, you’re in pretty good shape. I read a review describing Accept as “workmanlike metal”, which is kind of a backhanded compliment, but I guess makes total sense. Geez, in the song “Symphony of Pain”, they even did that Spinal Tap thing, where they throw a part of Beethoven’s 5th into the guitar solo.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that “How Do We Sleep” borders on prog metal. Also “The Best Is Yet to Come” is a (big sigh) ballad about how the best
isn't yet to come and reminds me of (bigger sigh) “The Unforgiven” by METALLICA, while “The Undertaker” can be described as burlesque metal; with sexy rumba verses, perhaps meant to be the backup music to some exotic dancer in a corset, top hat, and Mexican Day-of-the-Dead makeup, performing in some dimly-lit room with velvet upholstery. Also the verse in “Not My Problem” is kinda reminiscent of (not big sigh at all!) “Beating around the Bush” by AC/DC.

And, in spite Udo being a diminutive God of singing, Mark Tornillo still has a good Udo-ish, shrieky style that may not be the most melodic thing in the world, but gets the job done. He’s also got an admirable blue collar lyrical approach, where he isn’t the most eloquent wordsmith in metal land, but he leaves no question about what the songs are about. And, boy, are these songs about stuff, I’ll tell ya!

Funny I initially thought “Zombie Apocalypse” would just be about zombies going out and killing people, but it’s actually a social statement comparing the people addicted to smart phones and social media to zombies; which, in a way, is somewhat disturbing considering it has the line “We’ve got to kill them one by one.” 

“No One’s Master” attacks the media and the elites who try to stoke fear and divide people; “Overnight Sensation” is about social media insta-stars with a completely ahead-of-the-curve reference to Kim Kardashian; and then you have “Sucks to Be You”, which has the kind of second person lyrics I love that call nobody in particular an asshole.

Except for YOU if you don’t buy the new Accept album!

Edwin Oslan
Revenge of Riff Raff
5th March, 2021
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