Released: January 29, 2021
When Lester Bangs’ character in Almost Famous said the Guess Who had the “courage to be drunken buffoons,” I always remembered it as the “courage to be stupid,” which while incorrect, really got to the character’s point in that scene. The notion of that kind of courage made sense to me even as I so often strive to think seriously about music to the point, perhaps, of overthinking.
That brings us to the latest release by 80’s heavy metal almost-made-it-big band, Accept. This is a band that is largely remembered for a song with “balls” in the title. Their lyrical IQ is a pretty low bar. If there is any question about what the tone of Too Mean to Die might be, the opener, “Zombie Apocalypse” answers it quickly. Its muscly metal intensity is not lost on a zombie song. It actually works, but it is undeniably dumb or at least silly.
Conversely, “No One’s Master” is not quite dumb even if it is a predictable anthem of individualism. But it is, oddly the most disingenuous track on a record made by one member from the band’s heyday 30+ years ago along with newer members dating back barely more than 10 years at the most (and some only a year or two). But, I suppose I’m overthinking again. Other tracks try to be serious (“Symphony of Pain” breaks into “Ode to Joy!”) and it makes me long for the zombie song or maybe something about dragons or a post-apocalyptic society, but most of the album doesn’t get lost by hinting at smart. And Accept is so much better when they exhibit the “courage to be stupid.”
Mostly, Accept sticks to being dumb and doing it well as they have on and off for decades. Current singer Mark Tomillo isn’t Udo and his voice is the biggest difference from their better known past, but he does fit the same mold. Too Mean to Die is the same blistering metal they churned out in the 80’s, which is not bad for a band in its 40’s. Except, this version of Accept is more like a pre-teen aside from guitarist Wolf Hoffmann, so I guess fresh blood helps. It just doesn’t make them smarter or more creative.
Too Mean to Die has a lot of energy that will help listeners to ignore some of its lumps. If you liked Accept in the 80’s and don’t mind an album about pretty much nothing, you could do worse.