Sixteenth album by German heavy metal legends marks their first with Martin Motnik, who replaced the original bassist Peter Baltes in 2019. At the same time, it’s the first album to feature third guitarists Philip Shouse.
Since teaming up with Mark Tornillo over a decade ago, the band has managed to that which seemed impossible; to continue successfully and gracefully without iconic front man Udo Dirkschneider. But the band did just that releasing three very strong albums and along the way managing to maintain high level when performing live. But then in 2017 they released The Rise of Chaos, their fourth album with Tornillo and while the album was well-produced, performed and featured all Accept-trademarks, the overall quality of songwriting was strikingly weaker and for the most part felt like it was ‘phoned-in’.
After a slight delay due to (of course) COVID-19, the fifth album to feature Tornillo on vocals is ready and just like the rest of the albums of his era Too Mean to Die is produced by Andy Sneap. This means that it’s perfectly produced record and perhaps to certain degree, too perfectly produced, meaning that it does come across as very polished. Still Sneap is such a pro, that he never lets the album sound too generic and lifeless, so overall this is another very well prejudiced album, despite the fact that bit more rawness would serve it well.
First two singles released, “Zombie Apocalypse” and “Too Mean to Die”, which also open the album indicated that the band might not have managed to get over the creative draught that characterized The RiseoOf Chaos. Overall, both songs check all the boxes and do what they are supposed to, but songwriting and overall feel just don’t match that of the first three albums of Tornillo era. But fortunately thigs do get better. Some stronger songs follow, and on “No One’s Master” and “The Undertaker” we even get glances of that hunger that characterized Blood of the Nations, Stalingrad and Blind Rage. On the likes of “Sucks to Be You” and “Not My Problem” the band revisits those mandatory tongue in cheek, AC/DC inspired tunes and “The Best Is Yet to Come” is rather solid ballad. “How Do We Sleep” bears the intensity of “Stalingrad” while “Samson and Delilah” is rather pointless instrumental that is most probably written for section of live show when Wolf Hoffmann takes over the spotlight.
It’s business as usual with Accept and while the band has managed to create an album that is noticeably stronger than its predecessor, it’s clear that the inspiration and initial fire that was fueling the first few records with Tornillo is not as present anymore. Blame it on perpetual line-up changes, blame it on satiety or just resting too much on skill, the fact is that while the band did create a solid album that is true to band’s trademarks, it’s by no means a memorable one.