Accept – Stalingrad – Review

Accept are one of the true METAL bands still producing great music that come from the ‘real’ roots of metal. Originally formed in 1976 they, along with bands like Saxon, are the real deal and remain true to their sound and approach. However, there is no getting away from the discomfort certain Accept fans have with the loss of Udo Dirkschneider on vocals, but the introduction of Mark Tornillo back in 2009 has really been the kick in the butt that the band needed. With the release of “Blood Of The Nations” in 2010, the first studio release for 14 years, the band proved they really do have a Metal Heart and stood up proud with an amazingly strong message for everyone – yes, we’re back and indeed have our balls to the wall…

Not only did they put out an amazingly strong album, but Accept took on a world tour in 2011, taking some 80 days that covered 65,000km in total and reached 450,000 fans. I was fortunate to see them at Jaxx (now Empire), in Springfield VA, a 500 capacity club venue just perfect to get up close and really see the power this band brings to any live show. That show has to be one of my top shows for 2011 easily, with the band firing on all cylinders. Perhaps for the better, the show is not all about the singer as it seemed at times with Udo at the helm, with Mark Tornillo leading, but not on any level upstaging Wolf Hoffmann (guitar) and Peter Baltes (bass) who are now the only original members, or indeed Herman Frank (guitar) and Stefan Schwarzmann (drums) who are more recent additions to the line-up. All now seem to mesh in a very comfortable way.

Even while the tour was in progress, interviews were hinting that the band was ready to dive back into the studio as soon as they could to record the follow-up, which leads us to today’s offering, “Stalingrad”. The album title was announced back in September 2011, so the wait from then until now has seemed longer than I would have liked, but I’ve had this CD on pretty much constant play since it arrived a week or so back.

So what do we get with Stalingrad? Well the first thing I will say is that if you liked “Blood Of The Nations” then you will find it hard to be disappointed with Stalingrad. The real question is does it move the band forward and, if so, how?

Well, after listening to this quite a lot, I will say yes it does, but not in any revolutionary way. And that is a very good thing in my book. There is no doubt that “Blood Of The Nations” (BotN) was a particularly great record, and tracks like Teutonic Terror, Beat The Bastards and Pandemic (I could go on) are exceptional riff-monster examples of what Accept has been about since “Restless And Wild” was released in 1982. “Stalingrad” doesn’t have the same immediate impact as BotN and indeed, it doesn’t quite have the same sense of excitement in the song writing, which is probably not surprising since that record represents 14 years of pent up music. However, with “Stalingrad” we have a maturing of what is the new Accept with Mark on vocals. What this record really does for me is confirm that BotN was not a fluke and that we can look forward to many more years of great Accept music to come. The new album in many ways seems like disk 2 of BotN, a continuing of the theme, but I will say without some of the immediate “smack-in-the-face” impact of the earlier disk.

Individually my personal selection of standout tracks are the CD’s namesake, “Stalingrad”, which is a mid-paced powerhouse, “Hellfire”, which gives us a chance to hear the more melodic side of Mark Tornillo’s voice in the post-solo bridge section, “Shadow Soldiers” which starts with a very Schenker-esq solo leading into a very catchy ascending riff, and “Never Forget” which is a commentary on the events of 9/11 and the effect on Western society. Overall there isn’t a truly poor track on the album, so it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see other people with other favorites.

So to close, if you are a fan of Accept in particular or just classic metal then there is no question you should buy this record, however, if you haven’t already snagged a copy of “Blood Of The Nations” then you might want to get that first, or buy them both!

My score for “Stalingrad” a solid 8/10.

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