Germany's most rejuvenated Metal act returns with a vengeance for their second album on one of the best comeback routes of all time. I'm sure anyone that even remotely associates themselves with Metal has listened to classics such as “Balls To The Wall” or “Fast As A Shark” but, let's be serious, those tracks are from, what, 30 years ago? The 'new' ACCEPT, meaning the post-Udo albums, “Blood Of The Nations” and, now, “Stalingrad” show the band more scathing, seething and down right dirty than any of the 'old' ACCEPT albums.
So what happened to ACCEPT? Well, anyone that has listened to “Blood Of Nations” knows, but if you haven't, then I will attempt to paint the picture for you, as “Stalingrad” picks right up where its predecessor left off at. 'New' ACCEPT is basically a modern take on the classic and Traditional Metal approach that ACCEPT has always been loved for. I mean to say that the music isn't modernized like later-day IN FLAMES or the LINKIN PARKs of the world, but rather modern as in production values and technical improvements. With “Blood Of Nations” and, now, with “Stalingrad” ACCEPT have finally broken free from the stigma that they are solely an 80's band holding onto past glories.
The first thing that grabs your attention on ACCEPT's latest masterpiece should be the powerful and crunchy guitar tone. The riffs range from Speed Metal flair of RAGE to the chugging palm-muting style of IRON MAIDEN. Straight up Traditional Metal is what you'll get on “Stalingrad”. The lead guitar work is outstanding, as it floats and weaves in and out and around the main riffs and vocals. Nothing too showy, but the guitarists are not afraid to show their chops with some really awesome blues-inspired soloing as well as some straight up shred fest sections.
The rhythm section blasts through the album, adding depth to already amazing base. The bass plods along, adding flourishes and extrapolations over the guitar lines. The drums are driving and pounding. There's enough force there to pull a freight train. It sounds like a great mix between 80's metal drumming a la JUDAS PRIEST and the more modern Groove Metal acts of the 2000's.
Those familiar with ACCEPT's early work should not be surprised with the vocals here, as the members found a more than suitable replacement for Udo. Imagine, if you will, a more pissed-off sounding Brian Johnson (of AC\DC), doing more of a shout crossed with the occasional squeal, and that's pretty much what the vocals sound like. Mark Tornillo's vocals are very gruff and raw, but fitting, especially with this riff fest of an album.
Every track on “Stalingrad” is a winner. ACCEPT have blessed us with another gem of an album with their post Udo era. I for one, believe that the newer ACCEPT completely blows the old stuff out of the water. Every track fits together, making a cohesive album, with nothing sounding out of place or forced. That being said, there are some standout tracks like “Hung, Drawn And Quartered” and “The Quick And The Dead” that get the blood pumping and your fists banging. Tracks like “Twist Of Fate” bring back some memories of the more melodic 1980's years, but the Hard Rock styling quickly fades when the chorus hits, and it's right back to solid Traditional Metal. After repeated listens, nothing gets monotonous, yet it still manages to retain its cohesiveness.
Overall an excellent album by one of the best comeback groups in recent years. If you consider yourself a Traditional Metal fan, then you MUST own this. “Stalingrad” is pretty much the road map for how Traditional albums should sound and feel. This album is recommended to all fans of Metal. Why? Because it's that good!
(Online September 5, 2012)