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Monday, June 18, 2012

REVIEW: Accept (GER) - Stalingrad (2012)



Accept since the return

Accept returned few years back with a new album, first full length after "Predator" (1996), the last Accept album featuring original mastermind behind the vocal duty, Udo Dirkschneider. The new album was called "Blood of The Nations" and was released in 2010 with new vocalist Mark Tornillo. The album received rather surprisingly positive feedback and reviews, taking into the account that perhaps biggest trademark Udo was gone from the band. Even if there was little controversy about that, it was inevitable after a big change like that. The album was Accept/Udo worship at it's.. well almost.. best.

Stalingrad continues in the same roots than it's predecessor with lyrics influenced by Soviet Union, war, hell, social issues, and rebellious attitude. Pretty typical stuff that holds it's own. The sound here definitely worships 80's Accept, but as equally 90's-2000's Udo's solo career. Well those two are quite close to each other anyway. Mix some of the Metal Heart-Russian Roulette era Accept with Udo's Holy-Thunderball era and you come quite close.

The album itself

Technically album is great, with crystal clear production, strong guitars, audible biting bass, and generally well sound mix. The controversy that always exist is Tornillo's vocals. They are pretty much the Udo imitation at it's finest and fit obviously well to the atmosphere of the album. He sounds so damn close to Udo! Perhaps slightly more focused, less gruff voice.. but it's almost there. Now there's always those fans who will complain that Tornillo is "just an imitator" even if a good one. Then there's those who would complain it totally different kind of a singer would had taken Udo's place. So to some it's always lose-lose situation. But in my opinion Tornillo handles his vocal duties well with decently powerful, rough/screaming style vocals which are like a dedication to a great ex-Accept singer Udo. Nothing wrong with that. After all this is Accept and should still sound like Accept (in my opinion) - and that it does.

It's like "retro"-Accept with updated sound, that has quite good energy level, biting power-chords that are usually simple yet tight and effective. Typical for the sound are also melodic 80's Accept'esque leads a'la "Metal Heart", and fine guitar solos that really add their own to the sound. The cleaner and softer guitar parts really bring recent Udo to my mind. Guitarist duo Wolf Hoffmann and Herman Frank know how to handle their guitars since both are veterans on the business, and can throw a cool licks here and there when necessary. And testosterone-laden backing vocals on choruses's are there just like the always were on Accept's career. But the downside of this album is, that despite it's fine energy level and beautiful lead melodies that occasionally appear (could be used even more), other parts sink bit into the safe-zone that will please heavy metallers, but in the same time lack some authenticity. There's definitely that "it's good, headbangable stuff, but I've heard this before"-feeling.

Stalingrad is fine album, which presents good moments and Accept-worship, but same time does not present much new and innovative. It's also an album that will open up fast for being well accessible to any heavy metal fan with simple but strong riffage - galloping rhythms combined with speedier parts and mid-paced heavy power chords - with fair share of nice leads. But there is no those much more complex, challenging songs with melodies that would leave that "safe-zone", and therefore it's possible that this album will lose it's "shine" bit quickly after the first great impressions.

Standout and lackluster songs

Songs are varying from great to average throughout the whole album. There's definitely few standout tracks though. Album opens up with thunder by song called "Hung, Drawn and Quartered" with energetic speedy main riffs, cool leads, and great vocal performance with Tornillo, including some rough high screams that is Udo Dirkschneider worship at it's finest. More epic marching mid-paced "Stalingrad" is also fine, starting with majestic guitar lead intro. It's enjoyable war-lyrics and clean guitar parts that reminds me of the way Saxon has used them in their recent works.

Shadow Soldiers wanders into Udo's solo career's power ballad.. a song that could well have been on Udo's "Faceless World" album. It has those more beautiful sounding wistful guitar leads, galloping guitars, pounding bass and cool atmosphere overall. Otherwise too standard Grave Digger'esque riffage having upbeat song "Against The World" manages to impress with cool shout-along chorus. For speed metal freaks "The Quick and The Dead" and "Flash to Bang Time" feature some mad headbanging moments, although they don't offer anything too fresh.

However some tracks, although nothing particularly bad about them, just fail to impress. Groove laden up-beat rebellious "Revolution", jumpy and pounding "Hellfire" which main riffs could very well be from a standard Grave Digger-album, and mid-paced heavily bass driven "The Galley" just don't do it for me. They are enjoyable on their own right, but lack the final kick. Especially The Galley, which is bit too long groove laden track, that tries to sound mystical same time but fails on it. It just grows a bit tiresome.

Summary

Since I feel that this review is getting out of hand with it's length let's just give a short summary about Stalingrad. It's well worth a listen to any 80's heavy metal worshipper and does very good job being "Accept" album even with Tornillo on vocals who tries to fill Udo's shoes the best he can. Even for an old band like this, "Stalingrad" is definitely not a lackluster on energy. It has powerful simple riffage, with cool lead melodies and shreds thrown into the mix to make it bit more melodic, and it works. It's problems are not energy level, or not being Accept like before, as the lads manage to stick to their roots well - but the problems are rather lack of authenticity and bit too "flat" performance.. by this I mean that they stay on "good" side throughout the album, but also on "safe-zone" with song structure and riffs if you know what I mean. You know what to expect from this album, solid gripping headbangable heavy metal with some cool leads, larger than life choruses with testosterone-filled backing vocals, 80's Accept worship with updated sound, and Stalingrad does just that and it does that well. But offers only little on top of that. On the other hand it's one of the better recent releases by old heavy metal veterans, and in my opinion tops recent Udo's solo career releases with rather wide margin. Accessible and very good album, that may wear thin over time for not having too many frills to the usual, but it's well worth your time anyway as performance is rock-solid for everything this album has to offer!

Favorite tracks: Hung, Drawn and Quartered, Stalingrad, Shadow Soldiers

Rating: 81 / 100
(Very good album that offers tight riffing, nice leads, and 80's Accept-worship, but lacks final authenticity to make it "cult")

-www.heavymetalblogspot.com (all rights reserved)



Buy this album

lineup
  • Peter Baltes - Bass
  • Wolf Hoffmann - Guitars
  • Herman Frank - Guitars
    • ex-Herman Frank, Poison Sun, Hazzard, Moon Doc, Victory, Sinner
  • Stefan Schwarzmann - Drums
    • ex-Helloween, Herman Frank, Krokus, Paradox, Running Wild, U.D.O., Cronos Titan, Voice, X-Wild
  • Mark Tornillo - Vocals
    • ex-TT Quick


tracklist

  • 1. Hung, Drawn and Quartered 04:35
  • 2. Stalingrad 05:59
  • 3. Hellfire 06:07
  • 4. Flash to Bang Time 04:06
  • 5. Shadow Soldiers 05:47
  • 6. Revolution 04:08
  • 7. Against the World 03:36
  • 8. Twist of Fate 05:30
  • 9. The Quick and the Dead 04:25
  • 10. The Galley 07:21
    • playtime 51:34





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