Accept’s last record, Blood of the Nations, was met with vicious acclaim from the metal community because it was the band’s first album in 14 years, all together too long for a group of such recognition to be without new material. Since 2010, Udo’s coarsely polarizing vocals have been missing from fold and replaced by Mark Tornillo’s snarling, putting forth a change that has forever cemented Accept’s comeback into the hard ‘n’ heavy kingdom. 2012’s Stalingrad continues the tradition Blood of the Nations began, but the album presents itself in a more melodically chic way because the band has rebounded into a set routine. Still, some fans complain about Udo’s absence, but nary an argument exists that reveals inferiority on Mark’s part. In fact, his technical superiority is not disputable.
Assembling upon the last record’s mortar, at first glance Stalingrad sounds like essentially the same album. Production-induced aesthetics feel nearly identical because Andy Sneap again holds the reigns tightly as he guides the band toward a husky, massive resonance that gives Accept’s music the drive it needs to crush heads. Compared with earlier material, the band continues to attack in a sharper, more direct manner, enabling them hang with the chumps who like their music brick-walled and without dynamics. Compositional proficiency suggests something different, however, because Stalingrad is not merely a collection of mindless metallic banter but instead a congregation of heavy, catchy song writing--a diamond among even the most classic of Accept albums.
What makes Accept’s newest ripe for the picking is the catchy song writing, generally traced back to Hoffman and Frank’s aggressive dual guitar harmonies. The two craft the best riffs this side of vintage Iron Maiden, but, of course, the whole band lends a stellar performance to the cause, particularly Tornillo who sounds more destructive than before, and the driving, fun lyrical madness important for any heavy metal band. Most, if not all, of the album will have listeners banging their heads and pumping fists with feelings of the classic era coming alive, the fires burning brightly as modern metal anthems sear themselves into the minds of newcomers. Thankfully, Stalingrad is a bit shorter than Blood of the Nations, placing it into a tight package that is much easier to digest in one sitting.
From the opener “Hung, Drawn and Quartered” to the bluesy “Twist of Fate” to the bellicose “Stalingrad,” Accept remains a force to be reckoned with, which very few saw coming for a band with two feet out of the metal scene for over 10 years. There is quite a lot to be thankful for as metal enters what is arguably its fourth decade in existence because a group that laid influential groundwork is still releasing new material. Stalingrad is a strong contender for album of 2012--certainly no small achievement--but metalheads will just have to wait and see what other surprises emerge from the gallows as the year chugs on with a seemingly endless amount releases. As predicted, Accept is victorious.