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Accept are one of the ultimate 80s heavy metal bands, their track and album Balls to the Wall being a true classic. Typically their albums were sung by singer Udo Dirkschneider's recognisable vocals and usually featured a really kitsch album cover. The band reformed a couple of years ago for the second time and the German legends are touring at the moment. Udo, now old and bald plays with his own below-par band U.D.O and Accept have Mark Tornillo on vocals. Released on the 6th April 2012, Stalingrad is the band's second album with the new singer, the first being "Blood to the Nations", an album that had one or two great tracks but largely sounded very similar after a while and I could take it or leave it.
Mark Tornillo's voice has a sort of shrill come croak of Bon Scott, a completely different kettle of fish from Udo's but I think there's certainly a place for it. The album Stalingrad starts off with "Hung, Drawn and Quartered" a pirate orientated song that sounds like it could be Alestorm or Running Wild, are they piggy backing off the recent success of Alestorm or simply wanting to rock out in infested waters? Either way, it's a good opener and is quickly followed by the title-track "Stalingrad", a number that has been played on rock and metal stations repeatedly lately and is fast becoming engrained in my head. I'm pretty sure there are some well known riffs being used here, although I can't quite place them, surely it can't be so catchy that I felt like I knew it the first time I heard it? Stolen or not, the lyrics are good and it's the best track of the album.
Accept's sound of late is more power metalish, it's considerably slower than the earlier album and the melodies are more varied, there's even a hint of a nile riff sneaking in on occasion (that's a sort of riff that gives a song an "Egyptian" feel.) "Hellfire" is a track that samples such a sound and it's pretty catchy, Tornillo articulates better than usual and it gives the song a different aura. He makes up for it on "Flash to Bang Time" which is a bit of a shrill fest, it's fast and there's some awesome guitar solos but becomes a racket the minute Tornillo starts singing.
"Shadow Soldiers" is a pretty naff ballad, I'm not a fan of ballads on the whole and Tornillo doesn't really alter his voice which makes it worse. The lyrics are pretty bad and the predominant guitar riff is the kind of thing that estate agents play in the background of adverts when advertising luxury properties on the radio.
"Revolution" is fast-paced and Tornillo needs to race through the lyrics which limits the amount of shrieks, it's ok but there's nothing special about the song and the chorus of "join the revolution" is hardly groundbreaking. It does contain what's probably the best guitar solo on the album, the guitar playing is really good fun towards the end of the track but other than that, it's sub-standard.
"Against the World" is pretty simplistic when it comes to lyrics but it's actually quite effective this time and has a similar catchiness as "Stalingrad", I could see this song standing the test of time and being part of the band's future repertoire if the keep on playing (which I'm sure they will)
"Twist of Fate" is rather different to any track on the album, Tornillo sounds bizarrely different from usual, for the most part he drops the shrills and sounds more like Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen, all three singers are from New Jersey and it makes me wonder if Tornillo's usual vocals are completely affected.
The guitar playing is once again faultless but I don't dig the lyrics.
"The Quick and The Dead" goes for a rock anthem feel, again it's by no means new ground but that's not really what you expect from reformed former giants with a new singer, unspectacular it does enough to keep the band's fans happy. According to Tornillo.. "there's two kinds of people, the quick and the dead."
"The Galley" is a great way to finish off the album, lovely heavy riffs to start off with, Tornillo takes on a more evil style of singing much suited to the eerie feel of the track. A slight return of those Nile riffs give the song a bit of an identity crisis but Commy pirates raiding Red Sea waters for treasure chests, will do for me. By the end of the track it goes all gentle on the listener and at 7 minutes, might be a bit long for some people but I think it's a decent effort.
Original member Wolf Hoffmann's guitar playing is superb, whilst not as notable Peter Baltes on bass is fairly solid too. In fact the only thing that is dubious at times (other than the lyrics) is Tornillo's voice. It's an acquired taste and it's better on some tracks than others. Accept are playing in Warsaw next Sunday and I checked it this album mostly because I thought they would showcase most of the tracks at the concert and I wanted to see whether it was worth going. People that I know that like Accept are not attending because Tornillo's voice doesn't appeal to them and I have to say I won't be going either. This album and their 2010 release have not convinced me that the ticket is a worthwhile investment as there's only one or two really good tracks on the two albums and whilst it would be great to see classics like "Balls to the Wall", I fear Tornillo might wreck them.