Accept are a German heavy/thrash metal band formed all the way back in 1976. With huge albums in their initial run such as Balls to the Wall and Metal Heart, the band helped forge the way for many a metal band in the future, helping to be the inspiration for the likes of Metallica, Testament and Motley Crue. After reuniting and breaking up again in the nineties, the band got back together in 2009 and, much like a lot of the 80’s metal legends like Anthrax and Judas Priest, have been firing on all cylinders, releasing some of maybe the best work of their careers. Their latest four albums, 2021’s excluded, helped regain them a lot of their 80’s popularity again and even pushed them back into the charts in Germany again after a near 20-year absence, as well as allowing them to headline the amazing Wacken Open Air festival. I’m a pretty big fan of their 2009-onwards work, with songs like Teutonic Terror and Die By The Sword still getting regular plays from me. Therefore, as you may be able to tell, I’m a little excited about this one!
Zombie Apocalypse opens with a Priest-esque slower guitar riff, showing off the massive tones they have developed over the last few years. As the riff soon fades away it is replaced by a faster, frankly awesome thrash one, starting on just guitar before the drums and bass get built in over the top of an awesome high scream from Mark Tornillo. The verse is a pretty standard thrash affair, though the backing vocals during the second half was a nice added touch. The backing vocals also add a lot to the chorus, too, making it feel bigger and easier to sing along to. It’s a little basic lyrically but works so well. However, the real star of the show here is the guitar work. Whether the awesome riffs or the multiple solos, a short one after the first chorus and another slower one over a breakdown and bridge, both added so much to the song, sounding almost modern Iron Maiden levels of epic at times. It was also a great chance to show off the sole original member, Wolf Hoffmann’s incredible skill in both technical and emotional guitar work. We get another huge, final double chorus, the double bass and awesome high notes from Tornillo adding even more epicness, before finishing with a huge final outro riff. So far, so awesome for this album!
The album’s title track is up next and the opening riff feels very Maiden again, I got heavy 2 Minutes to Midnight vibes, not that it’s at all an issue. The band keeps up the same balls to the wall tempo (pun intended) throughout the entire song, too. The chorus is more open and the vocal delivery is slower, but the underlying drumbeat is still ploughing on at the breakneck pace. Speaking of the chorus, it’s another greatly catchy one, made even more so by the well-placed backing vocals. Another blistering solo follows the second chorus, too; faster and more technical and actually I think I prefer this one even more. Considering how many albums I reviewed and listened to, not one made me really gush that much over their guitar solos (aside maybe Trivium), but this one is already doing just that. The solo blends awesomely into a great bridge, filled with great lead notes from both the guitar and vocals, before we get another final chorus to finish things off. This album needs to calm down a little, so far two for two on playlisted songs!
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Overnight Sensation slows things down a bit again, going back to more of their earlier sound. The riff feels pretty sleazy, the inspiration to Crue, being clear and the lyrics back it up perfectly. While the verse is great, the chorus had my face screwing up into a smile and elicited an audible gasp from it, it is so goddamn good. The call and response style they have used works perfectly, with Mark singing a line before the backing vocals chime in low each time with the title of the song. If you check out nothing else from this album or are in any way a fan of 80’s rock music you have to check this out. If this song was released back then, these guys would have somehow been even bigger, I honestly believe they’d have been worldwide megastars from it, that’s how good it is. Add to it the simple, radio friendly structure, the catchy as hell and easy to sing along to choruses and another fantastic solo from Wolf, what more could you possibly want from a song. How this didn’t make it as the lead single I do not know, but hopefully they make a video for it as this deserves to get played everywhere. A very early contender for my song of the year and it brings the total to a YMA6-style three for three with playlisted songs.
No Ones Master opens on an awesome little solo as the pace quickens back up to their more modern sound again. In fact, this song doesn’t feel like it would be at all out of place on their comeback album, Blood of the Nations. It has a real European feel to it, very similar to the likes of Sabaton and other Priest-inspired epic, power metal bands from the mainland. The lyrics here stood out to me more than the other songs, too, being slightly more serious and more poignant and well crafted. While I do very much still love this song, it is (thankfully for this list) not quite as good as the previous three. It is still very well crafted and has another great chorus, but it is just a tad less memorable than the others, be it the melodies, riffs or solos. While on other lesser qualities this sort of song would be a highlight, here it dips just below playlist worthy, though it was definitely on the fence!
The Undertaker, the lead single from the album, is the first slower, ballad song of the album. It opens on a slower, clean, Doctor Doctor style guitar riff. However, instead of building into a huge verse, this one stays low and slow, instead proceeding into one lead by a low, simple bassline and drum beat, accented by what I cannot help but describe as Tarantino-like guitar chords (if you know, you know). The vocals stay low and steady too, some more slightly on the nose lyrics but I can’t complain too much about them. It builds into a big, still steady chorus, filled with some more great backing vocals to drive it along and add to the catchiness. However, it’s after this that the song momentarily picks up, for me, building into a simple get great little distorted riff. Unfortunately, every time they go into the riff it doesn’t last all that long which is a real shame as it’s so good. Even at the end they fade back into the slower stuff instead of finishing heavy. At least the guitar solo is again great, this time over the low, slow verse riff, an awesome contrast to the faster pace Wolf has soloed over until this point. A good ballad but one which never quite kicks into the upper, Cemetery Gates style level that I was hoping it would.
Both Sucks to be You and Symphony of Pain have some great elements to them, with the former having a great sleazy riff and the latter having a great chorus, as well as both having expectedly awesome guitar solos. However, they both unfortunately suffer from the same problem that No Ones Master does in that they aren’t quite as memorable as a lot of the other songs on the album. They are both still good songs but on an album of this kind of quality they get pushed to the wayside a little.
The Best is Yet to Come is another slower song. It opens on a simple, clean guitar riff that carries on throughout the verse, it sounding beautiful and very fitting of the era the band are from. It all builds up into a huge, epic chorus, full of big distorted guitar chords, catchy vocal lines and even more great backing vocals. It does drop back down again into the second verse but it fits perfectly here, only adding to the emotional feel and the beauty. The solo fit the song perfectly, too, being over the chords for the chorus so it still had some oomph behind it, while also staying slow and un-technical enough to compliment the feeling of the song perfectly. We get a final epic chorus before this one is done too and honestly, this was awesome. I may even prefer it to the Undertaker, it went a little harder when it needed to. Playlisted.
The next two songs, How do we Sleep and Not my Problem are strangely pretty different from each other. The first is a straight up power metal song, through and through, complete with the epic intro and huge, soaring chorus. Meanwhile the second still has an epic feel to the chorus but the rest of it has a lot of punk/thrash leanings, having lots of speed and swagger and attitude. Both are good in their own way and I would love to see either live, even if they’re not quite as good as the opening tracks still.
Finally, the last track on the album, Samson and Delilah, is the first I’ve found recently that doesn’t leave the album on a long, drawn out slow note. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an all out thrash song like some of the others on this album and is definitely plodding, but it is heavy power metal through and through. And, the best part about it… it’s an instrumental. It takes nerve to include a four plus minute instrumental track in a mainstream album these days anyway, let alone close an album with one. This is also one of the better instrumentals I’ve heard, up there with some of Metallica’s best like Orion or Call of Ktulu. A great end to a great album.
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Overall, this was fantastic. For a band that is nearly 50 years old at this point to still be putting out a whole album of this sort of quality is incredible and a true testament to their talents as songwriters. Some of the songs on this album are already up there with some of my favourite songs the band has ever done and so far in the short amount of this year we have gotten through, this is my favourite album.
The review by musician, blogger & author – Joe Griffiths