A Little Background:
Accept probably need very little introduction to readers of CGCM pages. The band from Germany has been around since the 70s playing heavy metal music for heavy metal fans. Fashions can come and go but they do what they love regardless. Too Mean To Die their 16th album and fifth with new singer Mark Tornillo who of course replaced Udo Dirkschneider from when they reunited the band in 2009. There are other changes since even the last album The Rise Of Chaos with Martin Motnik taking over from long-term bassist Peter Baltes along with the addition of a third guitarist in Philip Shouse who although is down as second rhythm also seems to also contribute solos or second leads when required. This means that there is only one remaining original member in lead guitarist Wolf Hoffman. The only question is how does this new album stand up to the rest of the catalogue? Let’s explore the songs to see.
The Songs Reviewed:
Opening song “Zombie Apocalypse” starts with an ominous riff ala Sabbath or Diamond Head. After 40 seconds or so that changes as it goes full scale screaming (literally via the pipes of singer Mark) metal on us. I rather like the more spoken word/news reporter style sections before the main chorus each time. The chorus is simple, effective and just awaiting a crowd to belt it out. Lyrically a warning about the future (or is it now?) where folks are like robots chained to technology. Title track “Too Mean To Die” has a real Saxon sound reminding me of say a track like “Motorcycle Man” in speed and intensity as well as vibe. This is the first song where I really noticed the effects of 3 guitars with one holding the riff and the other 2 battling each other or working together to great effect.
“Overnight Sensation” is one of the most fun songs they have recorded. It is taking the piss out of the whole fame game. Folks desperate to be noticed, wanting fame and fortune whilst not actually doing anything of note or having any talent. Lyrics include the lines “I need instant gratification, be an overnight sensation” along with “I want to be famous for nothing like a Kardashian, tell the world my story even though I don’t have one“. The riff that underpins the solos is excellent. Extra kudos for using the expression “verbal masturbation” for the first time in song since Marillion in 1983 (“Forgotten Sons“). There is a real AC/DC vibe going on here, as there is also in “Not My Problem” which would have fitted nicely onto Powerage (that is a compliment as to this writer that is still AC/DC‘s best album). Another stonking chorus with plenty of attitude. “You made your bed now lie in it you get no sympathy” it says in the first verse and continues with a “keep it to yourself” screamed in a high pitch at the end of the chorus. One of my favourite tracks here.
They do change it up a bit at times. For instance “How Do We Sleep” recalls Gary Moore (“Out In The Fields” especially) solo mixed with of course classic Celtic sounding Thin Lizzy. The solos are very jaunty and give off such great vibes. There are moments that also made me think of some Viking metal due to the backing vocals. “The Undertaker” also takes from other influences, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and Avantasia due to the theatrical nature of the piece. This is a slow burner (or it was for me) but after a few listens I began to dig it immensely.
The ballad “The Best Is Yet To Come” is an uplifting track, rather sweet and hopeful. There is a slight resemblance around the chorus to Metallica‘s “The Unforgiven” but not enough to make it a copy. “When it rains I look for rainbows” he sings before remarking “call me a dreamer, call me naive“. To be honest I kind of agree, things will get better and when they do we will appreciate life all the more. “Symphony Of Pain” is a classical metal work out in the vein of Savatage or The Trans Siberian Orchestra as it incorporates 2 different pieces of Beethoven within it. Both the ninth (“Ode To Joy“) and the fifth in particular the “Fate Motif” which is fitting as the opening lyrics are about “fate being at my door“. Only “his music” can set “him free“. It is a fun workout showcasing the guitar skills of Wolf Hoffmann in particular. Musical closer “Samson And Delilah” is classical meets the Orient in style and once again allows the guitarists to show off their skills.
To sum up, this is in my view the best album since the first with Mark Tornillo and stands up to albums which are seen as their best from the 80s. The songs are of good quality, there is some humour poking fun, along with plenty of great guitar work. The album kicks pretty hard and now they have 3 guitarists, they will be able to replicate everything live really well. There is an energy that is uplifting and makes the listener feel good which at the moment is much called for. A really great album and what a fine start to 2021. Thank you Accept.
Album out on January 29 on Nuclear Blast Records
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