ACCEPT – Too Mean to Die
Released: January 29, 2021
Wolf Hoffmann – guitar
Mark Tornillo – vocals
Uwe Lulis – guitar
Philip Shouse – guitar
Martin Motnik – bass
Christopher Williams – drums
The Coronavirus pretty much ruined 2020 for most bands, and 2021 hasn’t been a great start either in the northern hemisphere. For German metal legends Accept, COVID-19 meant their 16th album was delayed into January 2021. Recording in Nashville, with super producer (and Judas Priest touring guitarist) Andy Sneap, was halted but it has arguably fueled the record that now looks the virus in the face and says, on behalf of fans, “I’m too mean to die.” Many records might have tried to capture the melancholy and isolation that we experienced throughout the pandemic, but not Accept. Few bands are so committed to the spirit of classic, pure heavy metal that they stand in the face of decades worth of trends, put their foot on the foldback and let out an almighty howl.
The strength of Accept is that they are masters of their instruments, and it shows in the diverse songwriting on display. The addition of new guitarist Philip Shouse thickens their sound and allows for dual solos and guitar harmonies.Across the album they utilise clean melodic sections but are more than capable of playing fast as a shark. ‘Zombie Apocalypse’ is one such track, a storming opener that will pump you up. The zombies aren’t the horror movie kind, but rather Mark Tornillo takes aim at people addicted to their phones and social media. The band’s ability to address modern issues and topics adds to the relevancy of the songs. I mean it’s not a deep analysis of our reliance on mobile technology, but it does the job and the chorus is darn catchy. The title track, ‘Too Mean to Die’, is also a whole lot of fun. A song about just being a metal badass (opening lyric: “I’m a heavy metal warrior, restless song of a bitch”), it invokes the kind of nostalgia and sincerity seen in Netflix’s Cobra Kai. To be honest it would make a great theme for that show.
‘Overnight Sensation’ is also big energy, calling out social media influencers, and chugging along with the sort of riff that Angus Young would duck walk along with. There’s the required “hey” and “yeah” backing vocals too. It definitely plays well to their audience of older fans. ‘No One’s Master’ goes for the melodic high tempo, attacking the media for spreading fear.
‘The Undertaker’ is a pivotal track in the album. With a slow burning melodic riff, it starts as a power ballad, but the rhythm guitar kicks in along with Tornillo’s gravelly voice and it’s a captivating tale of an undertaker who faces death everyday. The chorus is accentuated with Viking metal style chants, adding to the epic outlaw feel. It’s an immense song, equal parts Johnny Cash and Judas Priest.
‘Sucks to Be You’ and ‘Symphony of Pain’ are straight up metal ragers. ‘Sucks to Be You’ is another hard rock style jam, aimed at people who lie for a living. ‘Symphony…’ really shows off what the triple guitarists can do, with a killer opening riff and dark lyrics that deal with depression and isolation. The song that really sums up the album though is the power ballad ‘The Best is Yet to Come’. It tells the tale of a man who has lost his way, only to emerge optimistically. It’s the sort of fist pumping sing along that forces the audience to take out their lighters (or phones I guess). There’s a charm to the lyrics too, though some might find references to rainbows, stars and other cliches a bit cheesy, I really dig it. Even if it might have been written before COVID-19 changed our world, it’s a great anthem for where we find ourselves now. Hopefully the optimism is contagious too.
‘How Do We Sleep’ gives Christopher Williams some time to shine with some great tom work in the intro. This could also be a pandemic anthem, asking listeners “how do we sleep? With the world around us going to hell… when nothing changes at all?” It’s a surprisingly potent question, combined with some apocalyptic imagery and gregorian chants alongside the chorus. Who knew the ‘Balls to the Walls’ guys could be so contemplative? (Pretty much any fan to be honest). ‘Not My Problem’ is your classic ‘get fucked’ thrash belter, a sweet riff and some authentic aggression in the vocals. The album closes with the instrumental ‘Samson and Delilah’, which gives the guitar trio a chance to shred. It doesn’t quite hit the heights of the great metal instrumentals, but at under five minutes it doesn’t out stay its welcome either and is worth sticking around for.
Accept stand alone in many ways, they have continued to release albums of great quality since 2012’s excellent Stalingrad. They have a real old school approach that is comforting but thanks to Sneap have a crisp production and really have honed the lyrics to take on modern issues of technology, fake news and mental health. It could be the tonic you need if you’re feeling bummed out in early 2021. Dare I say the timeless nature of their sound means you’ll return to it often.
ACCEPT – Too Mean to Die tracklisting
- Zombie Apocalypse
- Too Mean to Die
- Overnight Sensation
- No One’s Master
- The Undertaker
- Sucks to Be You
- Symphony of Pain
- The Best is Yet to Come
- How Do We Sleep
- Not My Problem
- Samson and Delilah
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