Accept – Too Mean to Die

Rating: 4/5
Distributor/label URL: Nuclear Blast Records
Released: 2021
Buy Album [URL]: https://www.nuclearblast.de/en/products/tontraeger/cd/cd/accept-too-mean-to-die.html
Band Website: https://www.acceptworldwide.com/

Band Line-up:

Wolf Hoffmann – Lead Guitar
Martin Motnik – Bass
Mark Tornillo – Vocals
Uwe Lulis – Rhythm Guitar
Christopher Williams – Drums
Philip Shouse – Lead Guitar

Tracklisting:

01. Zombie Apocalypse
02. Too Mean To Die
03. Overnight Sensation
04. No One’s Master
05. The Undertaker
06. Sucks To Be You
07. Symphony Of Pain
08. The Best Is Yet To Come
09. How Do We Sleep
10. Not My Problem
11. Samson And Delilah

Review:

German metal outfit Accept have returned with their 16th studio album Too Mean to Diea balls-to-the-wall slab of precision-engineered heavy metal that demands to be turned up all the way to eleven from beginning to end, with a couple of surprises thrown in along the way for good measure.

Since American vocalist Mark Tornillo joined the band a little over a decade ago for the impressive comeback album Blood of the Nations in 2010; an album that announced to the world that Accept had risen from the ashes, back in business and not taking anybody’s bullshit, the heavy metal hitmen have released several high-quality albums including 2012’s Stalingrad, 2014’s Blind Rage, and 2017’s The Rise of Chaos.

Special circumstances often lead to very special albums. This is certainly true for Too Mean to Die, which of course alludes to the Corona period, although in a different way than one might assume. Hoffmann says: “It’s to be expected that many musicians will address the Corona situation in their songs. There will certainly be slogans for cohesion, through which positive vibes should be spread, which is also good. But we have decided to not let ourselves be influenced by it. The fans will get a hard, direct, and uncompromising metal album, but of course, accompanied with a wink: We are too mean to die! Weeds do not go away! Accept do not let themselves get down!”

Opening track ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ is a relentless riff-rocker laden with stomping rhythms, frenetic lead work, and shrieking vocals right out of the gate. It’s a very impressive way to start the album, and Accept are pulling no punches. Everything you would expect to find in a heavy metal song is here, right down to the crunchy production from the legendary Andy Sneap that is one of the album’s highlights. Lyrically, the track tackles humanity’s obsession with smartphones and the downside to being connected all the time.

They’re walking by day, they stumble by night
Wandering blindly, with no end in sight
Mass communication, hand to hand
A new epidemic has control of this land
– Zombie Apocalypse

Rather than slow down, the band put the pedal to the metal for the title track ‘Too Mean to Die’ and delivers on the self-proclaimed attitude with razor-sharp guitars and a cutthroat vocal performance by Tornillo. They’ve proved they can come back from the dead before, and they’re not about to let a little thing like a global pandemic stop them now. If anything, it has spurred them on to create a thick slice of heavy metal goodness that we all need right now, and they’ve succeeded. Explosive lead guitar work and pummeling drums from Christopher Williams elevate an already propulsive track to stratospheric and breathless new heights.

‘Overnight Sensation’ is a melodic yet not-so-subtle assault on social media and humanity’s desire for five minutes of fame in a generation ruled by apps such as Tik-Tok and Instagram; even calling out the Kardashians for being famous for nothing. It’s an amusing yet accurate take bolstered by excellent musicianship, memorable riffs, and a chorus destined to be buried in your head for weeks to come.

Other highlights include the mid-tempo rocker ‘The Undertaker’ that chugs along with more great vocals and a hammerhead riff from Wolf Hoffmann, the mean-streak adrenaline rush of ‘Sucks to Be You,’ and the classical-inspired  ‘Symphony of Pain’ that rattles along like a runaway train.

‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ is an aching ballad-cum-heavy metal track beautifully delivered by Accept, with special mention going to frontman Mark Tornillo for a dynamic vocal performance that shines among his more traditional delivery. The metal world knows that Mark can scream like no other, but here it shows once again that the frontman can also sing magnificently. “Mark sang this, for us rather unusual song stunningly well. The fantastic thing about Mark is that he not only masters the typical metal screams, but can also sing melodically and beautifully. He proves this impressively in this song”, chief guitarist Hoffmann raves.

However, ‘No One’s Master’ and ‘How Do We Sleep’ feel just a little too cookie-cutter; a bit metal by numbers and uninspired, at least compared to the rest of the album. They are decent songs still, but the urge to skip kept cropping up on each playthrough of the record sadly. Perhaps in time, they will grow on me but as I’m writing this, I’m not overly keen.

With Too Mean to DieAccept have set the bar high for metal releases in 2021 within its first few weeks. While it’s not quite as good as Blood of the Nations, it is still an incredible and bone-shattering tour-de-force that is absolutely worth your time and attention.

Review by Jack Merry
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