Release Date: April 10, 2012
This week, German metal stalwarts, Accept return with their highly anticipated follow-up to 2010’s epic comeback record, Blood of The Nations. Stalingrad marks the band’s 13th studio album, and the second with new vocalist Mark Tornillo (TT Quick), who replaced Accept‘s longtime iconic frontman, Udo Dirkschneider. While many fans found this to be a blasphemous concept, Blood of the Nations proved that Udo could be replaced, and that the band could still write blistering, powerful metal.
While one album is not enough to set a precedent, Stalingrad should go a long way towards converting the remaining stubborn hold-outs that Accept remains a metal force, with Tornillo the man to lead the way.
For Stalingrad, Accept once again tapped legendary producer Andy Sneap (Megadeth, Exodus, Arch Enemy) to helm the production.
Accept waste no time in getting right into battle on Stalingrad. The intro to “Hung, Drawn and Quartered” raises the flag of war and drummer Stefan Schwarzmann immediately lays down strafing fire. Founding guitarist, Wolf Hoffmann attacks the frets with his usual blistering yet melodic fervor. Tornillo’s vocals chew up the grooves throwing in some highs reminiscent of Rob Halford. Guitarist Herman Frank backs Hoffmann up with a wall of suppressing riffage, while bassist Peter Baltes (the only original remaining member besides Wolf) gallops heavily amidst it all, keeping the troops in timely forward momentum. Behind it all the war cries bellow. Now this is how one starts a metal album, full of fury and pulse quickening bravado.
Next up is the title track, with its chanting wall of vocals and tight hammer-down riffing, followed by the mid-tempo traditional metal anthem feel of “Hellfire” Nice groove in the rhythm on this one, full of energy and a powerhouse performance.
The tempo cranks back up on “Flash To Bang Time” with Schwarzmann once again throwing down rapid fire drum work, and Hoffmann in full on shred mode. Taking nothing away from Udo, Tornillo does more than simply hold his own on this record. He sets his own standard, and were he the vocalist all these years, no one would question his place at the helm.
One of the album’s standout tracks is emotive and atmospheric journey of “Shadow Soldiers”, while “Revolution” brings back the classic Accept chanting and thunderous rhythm section and aggressive guitar work.
The entire album has a very traditional metal feel that recall the glory days which paved the way for all that came later. The bluesy swagger of “Twist of Fate” reminds us of early Accept. “The Quick and The Dead” recalls Saxon, and “Against The World” rings with a familiarity of Judas Priest.
Stalingrad has a feel similar to Blood of The Nations and can be seen (or heard) as a continuation of said album. However, Stalingrad has its own unique style, and the chemistry between the band members is clearly stronger here. Tornillo stops trying to sound like Udo and simply brings his own raw fury to the party. Accept do not have the weight of their past riding on this record, and therefore were more free to take this album to a different level. Stalingrad is equal to its predecessor in impact, performance and songwriting, without being a clone. They maintain the foundation of that album, while building something unique upon its frame. If you loved Blood of The Nations, you’ll love Stalingrad. If not, you need your ears scraped with a drill anyway.