Album Reviews : Accept – Stalingrad
Its hard to believe that Accept is still going strong in this day and age. When most music is taken from an assembly line, manipulated and forced down the throats of most naive individuals. Accept still continue to dominate a tradition of teutonic speed metal across the lands. After the departure of Udo Dirkschneider in 2005. One of metals most iconic vocalists and the sonic force behind Accept for some 35 years.
Many were left confused, scratching their heads in disbelief when newcomer Mark Tornillo, took the reign of vocalist and performed on the band’s major come back release, ‘Blood Of The Nations’, in 2009. Many of Accept’s fans, myself included had a “Dirkschneider or bust” mentality and was hesitant to approach ‘Blood Of The Nations’ upon its release. However, after listening to a mere 5 minutes of ‘Blood Of The Nations’, I unexpectedly received a fingerless, leather gloved uppercut to my chin and was instantly preaching to the converted. ‘Blood Of The Nations’ received universal praise after its release, and cemented the new lineup which is actually pretty close to the circa 1980’s line up, with the exclusion of drummer Stefan Kaufmann, and the aforementioned, Udo Dirkschneider.
‘Stalingrad’ is the thirteenth album from German speed metal heavyweights Accept and is considered by many as a concept album. Not only does it relate to the suffering of the former Soviet Union from 1942 to 1943 during World War II. It also relates to the hardships of many within our social hierarchy. I’m probably reading into it a bit to much, but with tracks like ‘Revolution’ and ‘Against The World’, infusing classic headbanging riffs and fist pumping chorus’. Its hard not to notice an underlying message that is so common within the band’s lyrics. Relating to certain people who are overshadowed, pushed around and undermined in society.
The album does well to please everyone. The tracks ‘Hung Drawn and Quartered’, ‘Stalingrad’, ‘The Quick And The Dead’ and ‘Flash To Bang Time’ are the heaviest of the bunch. Resembling that of classic Accept rapid fire anthems ‘Fast as a Shark’, and ‘Losers and Winners’. Which Wolf Hoffman and Herman Frank are so well known to conceive. While mid tempo entries ‘The Galley’ and ‘Shadow Soldiers’, with its riff similar to that of ‘Head Over Heels’ from the 1983 classic , ‘Balls To The Wall’. Adds a touch of hard rock class and breaks off from the constant aggressive attack of the band’s formidable speeder numbers.
Two tracks which took me by complete surprise were ‘Hellfire’ and ‘Twist of Fate’. Both infuse a somewhat bluesy feel and really showcase the variation of Mark Tornillo’s vocal range. Lets be honest, Tornillo can’t reach high notes matching that of Micheal Kiske (Helloween) circa 1987 – 1988 or Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear). However, Tornillo does have a great variation in raspy vocals, along with his unique screech. Mild tones of hard rock vocals, similar to Gene Simmons (KISS), Blackie Lawless (WASP) and Brain Johnson (AC/DC) are all present with a good depth of harmony. A thick wall of backing vocals throughout the entire album adds a nice bow tie and completes the package.
‘Stalingrad’ is pretty much what you’d expect from the masters of teutonic speed metal. Headbanging riffs, catchy chorus’ and themes relating to political and social issues. Accept aren’t trying to reinvent the wheel on ‘Stalingrad’. It feels more like of a continuation of the band’s previous album. If you were to put the previous album, ‘Blood Of The Nations’ alongside ‘Stalingrad’, and compare the two. It would be quite impossible, as they both sound identical with some minor variations. This isn’t a bad thing, as producer and musical genius Andy Sneap, returns to the helm of production duties. The album is cut, crafted and glued together with a precision touch.
Accept still continue to dominate a heavy metal tradition and brings speed metal into the 21st century for a new generation of metalheads. While many would argue that Accept aren’t offering anything new to the masses on ‘Stanlingrad’. You can’t help but notice a similarity to that of the legendary AC/DC. Simply put, “If its not broken, don’t fix it”. The album is easily a contender for album of the year and is an instant classic in my book. 9/10
Genre: Speed Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast Records (Europe & North America), Riot! Entertainment (Australia
1. Hung, Drawn and Quartered
4. Flash to Bang Time
5. Shadow Soldiers
7. Against the World
8. Twist of Fate
9. The Quick and the Dead
10. The Galley