Nuclear Blast, April 2012
By guest reviewer Matt Williams – lead vocalist Project X/Black Steel
Within the first few seconds of listening to the album's opener 'Hung, Drawn and Quartered', I knew this one was gonna deliver, just as 2010's 'Blood Of The Nations'
did. As successful as that album was in re-establishing the band as metal giants, and with a new lead vocalist (Mark Tornillo), the band has taken up their own gauntlet and wasted no time getting straight back to work with an even more relentless slab of metal. The first of several fast double-kickers on the album, this ball-tearer is laden with savage chords from Wolf's axe, and no-holds barred angry vocals from Tornillo, who possesses one of those tough-as-nails ripping voices.
The title track (also offered prior to release as a free MP3 download) goes for a similar driving triplet feel and tempo as the previous album's single 'Teutonic Terror', which maybe indicates a conscious decision to stay with a tried and true formula on the advance track. Obviously written about the 'enemy at the gates' World War II Battle Of Stalingrad, interestingly, the lyrics seem to be written from the Russian POV rather than that of the German 'invaders'. Whereas the aforementioned single was a battle anthem about Teutonic forces "given 'em the axe". Interesting twists, but all great fun! This track also features the album's debut of Hoffmann's anthemic guitar passages, accompanied by the band's trademark "Woah-oah" tough gang vocal choir.
'Flash To Bang Time' is another personal favourite, with it's relentless double kicks and the metal firing on all cylinders, followed by the tough ballad 'Shadow Soldiers'. The latter features those classically-tinged guitar licks from Hoffmann, wandering expansively around the modes, reminiscent of his instrumentals like 'Drifting Away' and 'Just By My Own' on previous Accept albums. This classical thread has always run through Accept's entire catalogue, providing an extra dimension and drama to their brand of metal. 'Shadow Soldiers' also echoes previous songs such as Objection Overruled's 'Amamos La Vida' and Blood Of The Nations' 'Kill The Pain'.
'The Galley' begins with a heavy Sabbath type flat five / devil's note / blue note trill sojourn, giving way to a Pantera 'Walk' kind of groove. This in turn gives way to classic Accept, including the "Row! Row! Row!" of the gang vocal choir, and a phrygian, 'Gates Of Baylon' / Cecil B De Mille Biblical epic soundtrack melody mid-section, which conjures images of Ben Hur and his fellow rower slaves chained to their positions in the bowels of the ship!
On the first listen, and indeed on subsequent listens, 'filler' songs on the album are non-existant. In many ways it seems that players hailing from Germany (from which most of the band members originated) are the musical descendants of Beethoven
and a multitude of other composers of that country and throughout the continent.
Accept have continued to demonstrate their ability to combine these classical influences with a superb grasp of heavy rock and blues based metal. Every track on
'Stalingrad' is full of individual merit, as well as serving as effect parts of the whole on what is an awesome traditional metal album for any era.
Matt's 2011 album with PROJECT X "D Generation" can be purchased on iTunes or at www.100percentrock.com
Review posted 13 April 2012