Accept: Stalingrad

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Accept: Stalingrad
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Accept: Stalingrad
Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
April 10th, 2012
Release length: 51:39
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It’s been roughly three years now since Mark Tonillo replaced founding member Udo Dirkschneider as vocalist. Many fans revolted, claiming Accept would never last, nor be the same. However, for those willing to listen, fans were given a pretty strong new album in the form of Blood of the Nations in 2010, the twelfth full-length offering. While it may not be another Balls to the Wall or even Objection Overruled, it still showed the this group has what it takes to carry on without the most recognizable aspect of their fame, and are ready to reaffirm this with their follow-up, Stalingrad.

Again, we’re given traces of vintage Accept, but it clearly is missing that one key element that makes this a proper release, and that’s the vocal approach. While not quite the higher pitch we’ve come to know and love, it often comes close, being a more refined version of what the previous album offered, better suiting the heavier sound and production of Stalingrad. The guitars have a nice, deeper sound to the distortion, and the bass backs them up superbly to create a bit of a burdening feel that exemplifies the Heavy Metal and Hard Rock sounds perfectly, especially in some of the chugging or charging passages in songs like “Stalingrad,” which slow things down for the deeper elements to shine through. The drum kit sounds great, though the cymbals don’t quite have as much kick to them as they should, coming off a bit too far back in the mix to really make a difference to final product. The snares and the kicks, however, are both pretty strong and vibrant. The first has a slight echo on them with a tight sound, and the latter has a thick click to them, though at a lower level that doesn’t really stand out when the music picks up in speed or volume, though still helping to keep the music feeling a little on the heavier and richer.

Much of Stalingrad really finds a concentration of Hard Rock laced with Heavy Metal, and some of the most impressive renditions of these songs are what kick this album off, as well as help make up the longer offerings found throughout. “Stalingrad” has a superb richness that the bass kicks accentuate. During the slower passages, the dismal atmosphere that the cleaner, haunting leads give off, as well as some effects that creep up like an explosion effect in the background of the first slower passage, cause this somewhat epic, anthemic, attitude driven song to stand out proudly. The chorus also is well worth noting, bring a little extra emotion to it that captures the story of the lyrics perfectly, almost as if in some kind of Rock Opera formula that leaves the listener in awe. This feeds well into the amazing guitar solos that capture the environment quite well, wrapping everything up into a memorial track that truly deserves to be the title of this release. “Hellfire” carries the theme of “Stalingrad” along with a much slower, and ultimately dismal sounding track, kicking off with an alarm of an air strike with some dirtier eighties style Rock. It blends in superbly with the more aggressive passages, haunting bridges, and head bang worthy riffs that will have you pounding your fists in the air even before the chorus that packs enough punch to make you want to do it all again, but with more force.

And that’s just two of the songs that make up the start of the effort, not even including the energetic Heavy Metal introduction track “Hung Drawn and Quartered,” which is simply a catchy, hook driven Accept declaration of goodness that any fan of the style will lovingly embrace as one of their favorite songs off the recording next to “Stalingrad.” That isn’t the only faster track on here, as “Flash to Bang Time,” “Revolution,” and a few others also bring some speed to the mix, but not all stand out, or are as easily addicting. Even if the song doesn’t have much enthusiasm behind it, the group still throws some good songs our way as you near the end. “Shadow Soldiers” is a more emotional track that carries a haunting, yet glory-filled anthem sound, similar to Iced Earth‘s “The Ghost of Freedom,” but with a strong ballad hint mixed with an epic approach. “The Quick and the Dead” is an upbeat song that carries some extra adrenaline to make it stand out well as you approach the end, leading into “The Galley” to wrap things up well enough. It feels more like a typical song for the style, much like some of the songs after “Shadow Soldiers,” but the longest entry ends things with a much lighter note, especially at the end. Had it gone straight into an acoustic piece in a manner to mourn the fallen, then this would have stood out a lot more. It also would have helped if the chords being played continued instead of ending with a rather quick fade out with clearly more material to be performed, effectly killing the flow of the song. Hopefully we’ll get an extended cut of this at some point soon to hear what we obviously are missing.

Stalingrad really gets the listener pumped for an exceptional Accept experience, but doesn’t quite deliver towards the end. About half way through, it’s clear the top notch and often epic material does seem to derail slightly, giving way to more traditional material, but far from filler, boring, or bad. Overall, there’s enough material here to keep the listener coming back for more time and time again, making it a must own for fans of the style, or the band in general. With over fifty minutes of solid material all woven around an obvious musical and lyrical concept of war in Stalingrad, you simply cannot go wrong with what is easily one of the best titles of 2012, and one of the best Accept recordings of their career.

01. Hung Drawn and Quartered – 4:35
02. Stalingrad – 5:59
03. Hellfire – 6:07
04. Flash to Bang Time – 4:-07
05. Shadow Soldiers – 5:48
06. Revolution – 4:09
07. Against the World – 3:36
08. Twist of Fate – 5:21
09. The Quick and the Dead – 4:26
10. The Gallery – 7:22
Overall Score: 9.5/10


Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.