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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Accept

Stalingrad

Review by Mike Korn

I am constantly amazed at the energy and fire of metal bands that have been around for 20, even 30 years. Sure, you get some sad sounding "reunions" now and then, but overall, older bands have really been putting out some of their best material in the 21st century. Overkill comes to mind.  So does Exodus. But Germany's Accept may have just trumped them all.

The band made a great comeback a couple of years ago with Blood of the Nations. Many, including me, were skeptical that they could recapture the power and heaviness of their best years, especially without their iconic vocalist Udo Dirkschneider. Ex T.T. Quick man Mark Tornillo wound up being a fine replacement for Udo and Blood of the Nations was a surprise hit. Seems that was just a warning shot, because the follow-up Stalingrad is nothing less than a heavy metal classic.

Accept has had a very length career. There are only two of their other records I could mention in the same breath as Stalingrad...the classic Restless and Wild and the grossly underrated Objection Overruled. This new effort is so full of power and vigor, it sounds like the first album from a band of fresh-faced youngsters ready to take on the world. It's fast, it's mean, it's epic, it's melodic...it surpasses Blood of the Nations easily and also most of what Udo has done with his solo band. I really suggest you bundle up and take a trip to Stalingrad to learn how metal should be done!

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Hung, Drawn and Quartered

This opening shot kicks off with an elegant twin guitar flourish before a rapid fire guitar assault commences. Mark Tornillo's raspy but easily understandable vocals are noticeably improved over Blood of the Nations and the big Germanic chorus is devastatingly catchy. This is as pure a metal song as you could ever hope to hear.

Stalingrad
As is totally appropriate, the title track has a definite Russian feel to it. There's also a kind of melancholy vibe that mixes with the skull-fracturing power riffs. The song pays tribute to the Russian soldiers who defended the motherland during World War II, dying in great numbers while doing so. The giant chorus of "So hungry, so cold / We gave our hearts and souls" will give you a touch of pride, whether you're Russian or not. This is one of the best Accept "historical epics.”
Hellfire
If you were expecting a ballad in the usual "third song" slot, you're out of luck here. This starts with sirens and clean guitars before turning into a chugging, driving metal pile-driver. Although not quite as awesome as the first two songs, it doesn't miss that mark by much and is still a great "typical" Accept metal anthem. There's a cool and melodic spot with clean singing from Tornillo that really surprises and delights.
Flash to Bang Time
By the time this high velocity screamer finished, I knew I was now listening not just to a good metal album, but something approaching an all-time classic. It’s hard to believe how a band that started in the 70's can summon up so much electricity and energy in the year 2012. This is easily the equal of the classic "Fast as a Shark" and one of the best Accept songs ever written - utterly scorching!
Shadow Soldiers
Here at last, we get a cool down of sorts, and it is actually needed after the beatdown of "Flash to Bang Time.” Beginning in balladic fashion, this soon kicks in with a strong mid-paced riff and a mournful vocal approach. If you recall the classic track "Princess of the Dawn" from Restless and Wild, this is a little similar to that. The guitar playing of Wolf Hoffman and Herman Frank is top notch.
Revolution
Here's a down and dirty, fast and furious metal screamer. It's hardly the most original tune and not the pick of Stalingrad, but if this doesn't get your head banging, you better check into a clinic. It's the very definition of heavy metal.
Against The World
There is no let up here. This is another speedy neck-wrecker with a bit of a darker sound than "Revolution" and another powerful chorus that embeds itself in your brain. If anything, l like this a little bit better than the previous track.
Twist of Fate
This is the most classically "Accept sounding” track on the album. Starting with a bass groove and a restrained feel, I almost expected to hear Udo Dirkschneider's trademark growl. But no, we get Mr. Tornillo and he fits just fine. This is a pretty cool number that works in a less frantic but still heavy manner. It has really grown on me and stands as a personal favorite.
The Quick and The Dead
They hit the gas again with this ripper. It reminds me a lot of the title track from the Objection Overruled album and is just as good. There's a smoking solo section where even the bass of Peter Baltes gets a workout. Man, these guys are tight and show no signs of slowing down. "Speed and power take command / You've got the world in your hand.” Those lyrics pretty much say it all.
The Galley
The last and longest song on the album, this starts with a heavy and majestic blast before swinging into a great grooving riff. This album simply does not let up in terms of quality. I'll bet this song will have thousands pumping their fists and chanting "DAMNED! CHAINED...TO THE GALLEY OF PAIN!" along with the band. This is a powerful epic tune which ends quietly with ocean sounds and a mellower, more melodic touch. Ordinarily, that would be pretty strange, but after the metal marathon of Stalingrad, it's fitting to have a "cool down" period.
 
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