It has been forty-five years since seminal German metal band Accept first came into being. Perhaps, then, it is appropriate to name their sixteenth album Too Mean to Die. It has been a long career, full of ups and downs, to the point where lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann is the sole remaining original member. One can only imagine what it’s like to welcome new bandmates to the fold decades into a career, but that’s just what Accept do here, with Martin Motnik replacing original bassist Peter Baltes and adding a third guitarist in Philip Shouse as the band’s sixth member.
These changes don’t result in any perceptible shift in the band’s modern sound. Accept still throw down up-tempo traditional metal tunes with aplomb, as is evidenced right off the bat with “Zombie Apocalypse,” a song that features a strong riff behind lyrics that perhaps were more relevant a few years ago. It’s a template that is followed throughout Too Mean to Die, to strong effect on songs like “How Do We Sleep” and the title track.
Early adherents to Accept’s “Teutonic metal” sound will gravitate towards the faster tunes, including “Symphony of Pain,” which changes things up slightly in the middle with a few bars of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9.” “No One’s Master” and “Not My Problem” are also solid jaunts down true to form power metal lanes.
When the band excels on Too Mean to Die, they find themselves issuing changeups. “The Undertaker” is chock full of both humorous lyrics and infectious groove, and just might be Accept’s best song here, while “Overnight Sensation” rocks like many songs did back in the Balls to the Wall days.
The guitar work is excellent throughout here, and while one can’t discern who plays what as far as riffs and lead breaks, it’s safe to say all three guitarists bring their A game. Ditto goes for the rhythm section, with relative newcomers Christopher Williams and Motnik in lockstep. Mark Tornillo continues to belt it out in his best Udo-like voice. This is his fifth album now, so he’s more than comfortable and is an integral part of Accept’s sound. The production is also modern and aggressive, with plenty of punch and a slick but not overly so sheen.
Missteps are few, but they do exist. Accept have never been known for genius lyrics, and that hasn’t changed here. From “The Undertaker” to “Zombie Apocalypse” and “Overnight Sensation,” the lyrics can be cheesy and silly but that’s just fine. The bigger missteps are twofold: the closing track, an instrumental which isn’t really necessary, and “The Best is Yet to Come,” a sappy, inspirational ballad that sticks out like a sore thumb. How can you sing “when it rains I look for rainbows” when your album is called Too Mean to Die? And how is the best yet to come after 45 years? Inquiring minds want to know…
These aren’t huge issues, though, and Accept have delivered a strong, fairly consistent album here. Fans of the band will be into Too Mean to Die, while casual listeners won’t be turned off either. This late into their career, Accept deliver pretty much exactly what we would expect; a collection of solid, enjoyable songs that won’t sully their legacy.
(released January 29, 2021 on Nuclear Blast)
Heavy Music HQ Rating:
Watch Accept – “The Undertaker” Video