Accept – Too Mean to Die Review

The AC/DC of Germanic metal is back! Even lineup changes and a global pandemic couldn’t keep the metal hearts in Accept from beating their 16th album of classic 80s-style metal into life.1 With a new bassist and a third guitarist in tow, Too Mean to Die finds these ageless vets sitting in a pretty good place with an album’s worth of tried-and-true Teutonic tuneage. It’s exactly the kind of material you’d expect from them at this stage in their 40-plus year career, but there’s a bit more spit, polish and punch in the writing than was heard on 2017s The Rise of Chaos. There isn’t anything especially new of innovative happening, nor is this going down as one of their timeless outings, but the band sounds reinvigorated and the material is overflowing with sharp, crisp guitar work and a pissed off attitude. This makes it a good soundtrack for beer drinking and rowdy antics, and that’s where Steel lives.

This is the kind of album where an in-depth drill down isn’t all that necessary. If you’ve heard any of the last 4 or so Accept albums, you know exactly what to expect here -beefy, old school metal riffs, pounding drums and the raspy, whiskey barrel-aged vocals of Mark Tornillo. The selling point this time is more hooks and better writing. Opener “Zombie Apocalypse” sets a positive tone for things to come, offering a classic collection of Accept-isms all wound up in a propulsive rocker with a goodly amount of vim and vigor. Its exuberant attitude will have you ready to fight a horde of the undead and Tornillo sounds in high feather. The guitar-work by Wolf Hoffman, Uew Lulis and new slinger, Philip Shouse is tight, slicing and fist-pumping. The title track offers more of the same and should become their trademark song as the band enters their 42nd year in existence. “No Ones Master” and its message of “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” is perfect for the gym, and “The Undertaker” is the kind of burly metal anthem the band’s been cranking out since the early 80s complete with those trademark ohh-ohh-ohh moments.

Other highlights include the animated, urgent “Symphony of Pain” where the trio of six-stringers go all in with some neo-classical shredding, even borrowing a few bars from Beethoven’s Ninth.2 Even the token sappy power ballad “The Best is Yet to Come” is much burlier and aggressive than you’d expect, and Tornillo singing “when it rains, I look for rainbows” in his thuggy, New Jersey drawl may be the metal moment of 2021. Happily, Too Mean to Die has no songs that tank. Some songs are better than others but it’s a surprisingly consistent and enjoyable trip from start to finish. Even closing instrumental “Samson and Delilah” is a really slick, engaging spin full of sweet, sweet riff candy.

And that’s the difference between this and The Rise of Chaos. The guitar-work is off the chain throughout and there’s a real commitment to letting the strings do the talking. The presence of three guitarist likely explains this, and it adds an extra dimension to the otherwise direct, AC/DC on roids style of songcraft. Wolf Hoffman has long been enamored with classical music, and you hear it in his solos at times. The songs are often elevated by interesting harmonies and flashy solos, but things never feel wanky or showy. This is because the songs are structured to be so simple and immediate. Take away a few examples of cringe-worthy lyrics (“Suck to Be You”) and things are looking quite Acceptable overall. Tornillo still sounds like a rabid alley cat and therefore carries on in the proud tradition of Udo. At times he even sounds extra feisty, as on “Zombie Apocalypse,” like a man deprived of his rot gut and given a jar of prunes instead. Basically this is an olde bunch of guys that sound way meaner than they should.

Too Mean to Die shows that Accept still have some life left in those bad backs and aching knees. I hope they have many more releases of this quality ahead of them. Calling them the AC/DC of metal isn’t a slight. It just means they made a long career for themselves by doing one thing well. I respect that. I Accept that.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 271 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: January 29th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. It is a metal disease after all.
  2. Huck made sure I mentioned that since he knew the man personally.
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