Accept, “Stalingrad” Review

Accept, “Stalingrad” Review

The only rule in writing is honesty. If you’re honest, the words will write themselves.

Germany’s Accept defied the odds and turned the clock back with 2010’s brilliant Blood of the Nations, a pumping, razor-sharp album that saw the influential band surge from being 80s legends to a well-oiled machine in the new millennium. But after a decade of mediocrity, would Accept’s triumphant comeback be a flash in the pan? Would the old dog have any tricks left after one of the best albums of the year, and their career? In reply, Accept have one word: Stalingrad.

Old Dogs, New Tricks

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After laying the formula out so successfully and effectively on Blood of the Nations, Accept don’t change too many things around on Stalingrad. This is still metal written for pumping fists and singing along during the choruses and the (easier) guitar lines. That stuff comes naturally enough to a band like Accept, but where Stalingrad improves on the second wind brought by Blood of the Nations is in expanding on its strengths and subtle touches.

Stalingrad features more of the inventive and intelligent work that brought Accept roaring back to life. From solos to riffs, Wolf Hoffman and Herman Frank combine the best of their classical sensibilities and heavy metal chops. Album-opener “Hung, Drawn and Quartered” sets the bar very high early on, and the album is up for the challenge with every song that follows. Whether it’s dual leads, modulations (“Stalingrad”) or melodic breaks (“Hellfire”), Accept’s message is clear: they’re interested in doing far more than just rocking out.

Classic Accept

But there’s plenty of that, too. Practically every song features a huge, anthemic chorus and chugging, concrete rhythm from Peter Baltes’ bass and Stefan Schwarzmann’s drums. Andy Sneap’s trademark production gives every dynamic center stage, from the carefully plucked intro of “Twist of Fate” to Baltes’ rumbling bass in “The Quick and the Dead”.

Accept Advance

It’s a credit to Accept that after kicking down the door with Blood of the Nations, they’re not sitting on their laurels for Stalingrad. While there is most certainly a theme running through the album – NWOBHM guitar riffs and larger-than-life refrains – each song has its own element to keep the album consistently peaking. “Twist of Fate” slows the pace down a notch after the heavy metal call-to-arms “Against The World”, without killing the momentum of the album. And whoever decided to end Stalingrad with, not a blast of drums and guitars & leather and attitude, but instead the soft, mellow fadeout – replete with sitar – on “Galley”, deserves a medal.

Accept, Again!

Accept was born in 1968, and although the band has seen everything in its 44 years – numerous lineup changes, writing one of the defining songs of 1980s heavy metal, a decline into obscurity and two breakups – what matters most is how strongly they have returned to the front lines. If Blood of the Nations set the scene for Accept’s resurgence, what they’ve done with Stalingrad sees the venerable Germans (and one American) pushing ever forward. This is not some clichéd throwback to the 80s, a return-to-roots album designed to win over jaded and aging fans. Stalingrad is a powerful statement from one of heavy metal’s oldest guards, a definitive and defiant way to roll back the years and march into the future.

Accept, Stalingrad: 4/5. It may be a little formulaic at times, but Stalingrad is such a strong and versatile album that the indulgence feels perfect.

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