To compete with the UK and Australia, Accept was Germany’s answer to Judas Priest and AC/DC. Original vocalist Udo Dirkschneider had little bits of Rob Halford and Bon Scott mixed up in his unique melodic raspiness. Wolf Hoffmann’s guitar work (particularly on “Breaker,” “Restless and Wild,” and “Balls to the Wall”) certainly had elements of Tipton, Downing, and both Young brothers (more specifically Malcolm). Accept had a great deal of influence on bands of the early/mid 1980’s, helping define Thrash Metal as we know it, as everyone from Metallica’s Kirk Hammet to Testament’s Alex Skolnick (and many, many others, spanning several genres of heavy music) have listed Hoffmann as a prominent inspiration. At some point, as often was the case back then, Accept stopped influencing the 1980’s and the 1980’s started to influence Accept. Best two words to describe this phenomena: Trippy and terrifying.
Here are a couple examples: There’s a song on “Russian Roulette” called “Heaven Is Hell,” which came out in 1986. It sounds like Bon Scott singing “For Those About to Rock,” which came out in 1981. Which, of course, is impossible because Bon Scott was dead in 1981. Fucking trippy! There’s a song on “Eat the Heat” called “Prisoner,” which came out in 1989. It sounds like Joe Elliott singing an unreleased Pat Benatar cover Def Leppard was forbidden from releasing as a B-side to “Photograph,” which came out in 1983. Fucking terrifying!
(Pro tip: Do not listen to “Eat the Heat.” Udo left the band, and shit got weird. That’s all you need to know. Udo returned in 1993 with “Objection Overruled,” which sounds more like Bobby Blitz left Overkill to sing for Brian Johnson who was then trying to imitate Bon Scott, who was briefly able to resurrect himself for long enough to start a Judas Priest cover band, which is both trippy and terrifying.)
“Blood of the Nation” (2010) was Mark Tornillo’s first record with the Accept, and his voice brought a new energy to a band that had been on hiatus for nearly a decade and a half. The problem here, commercially, was that by 2010, the world wasn’t quite as hungry for bands like Accept. Musically, Tornillo brought the band back to life. Although, one could argue (quite convincingly) that the addition of Andy Sneap as producer played an even bigger role.
Replacement singers don’t always… make a person feel good. Gary Cherone sang for Van Halen once. Remember that shit? Blaze Bayley didn’t have as much luck with Maiden as Bruce Dickenson did. Twice. Journey and Queen are basically cover bands… of themselves. Accept with Tornillo and Sneap is more like Sammy Haggar replacing David Lee Roth, or Alissa White-Gluz replacing Angela Gossow in Arch Enemy. Depending on your perspective, that change is either positive or negative. By extension, that perspective wouldn’t keep you from going to the show if given the opportunity. It doesn’t really matter either way because both Sneap and Tornillo have been with Accept on every album since. Which brings us to 2021.
Accept’s latest, “Too Mean To Die,” is the band’s fifth full length release with Tornillo on vocals and Sneap producing. Sole original member, Wolf Hoffmann, right out of the gate, reminds us why he’s so criminally overlooked. Particularly with songs like the title track, and “Sucks to be You,” which will no doubt be favourites in a live setting. Hoffmann plays the kind of guitar that works to suit the song. He’s not trying to shock anybody with his expertise, or shred anyone into submission. The man clearly possesses chops, but he’s not making a fist and punching anyone in the face with them. Listen to “Symphony of Pain” or “Sampson and Delilah” for proof of that. He’s got more in common with Billy Duffy from The Cult than George Lynch, for example. Wolf Hoffmann spends time getting to know the song. Buys it a steak. Takes it to a movie. Kisses it goodnight, and calls it a date. He doesn’t just call it up, get it drunk, and shred the shit out of it. I could name names, but we all know like six of those types right off the tops of our heads. Ain’t that right, Yngwie?
Tornillo’s voice is in tip top shape, as well. He’s great on the whole album, never once coming off as spent. Just as strong as Blitz, or Chuck Billy, which is just a great feeling… hearing that road-worn frontman who’s too mean to die, sing his ass off to anybody who’ll listen. So fun! But beyond fun, on “The Best Is Yet To Come,” Tornillo’s performance is jaw-dropping. Seriously, it’s like Skid Row with a cheese factor of absolute zero. This dude is singing the same way Hoffmann plays guitar, and that’s the way you treat your lady, you know what I mean?
Accept is not a band who’s here to fuck with your head, and leave you confused about where you stand. Even at their worst, they never were anything but honest, and with “Too Mean To Die,” they’re pissing Metal truth all over the goddamn place. Accept doesn’t need to put out a better album than the one before, they just need to keep being Accept. However that ends up sounding, you can be sure it won’t sound like bullshit.
Rating – 4/5