This record rocks, plain and simple. The sound will be very familiar to fans of Accept’s classic material, yet it doesn’t sound dated or hokey. It’s everything that I want in a traditional metal album – heavy, melodic and catchy as hell.
Blood of the Nations busts out of the gates with “Beat the Bastards,” a song that I’ve found quite cathartic on the drive home from work. Like most of the record, it’s got a meaty riff that will put fans in mind of the band’s popular records and finds new singer Mark Tornillo doing a pretty good Udo Dirkschneider impression (though not nearly as annoying) as he screams out the chorus: “Cut the ripcord/ don’t look back/ burn the bridges down. Grab the hammer/ clench your fist/ beat the bastards down.” After a day of shoveling shit at the office only to have more dumped on you, a couple of minutes blasting this tune out and screaming along is a must before going home to the family.
That leads right into one of the catchiest tunes on the record, “Teutonic Terror,” with its militaristic chorus march and gang vocals. I dare you to listen to it just once and not find yourself humming the chorus in your head all day. There’s also a nice bass riff from Peter Baltes early on in the song that lays down the groove for it.
While Tornillo’s vocals won’t disappoint fans of the Udo era, they’re not nearly as screechy. Tornillo has a raspier, slightly gruffer sound to his vocals that I find quite appealing. He even ventures near Jon Oliva territory every now and then in his higher registers, as on the screams toward the end of “The Abyss,” which has a bit of a progressive vibe. The title track also has a bit of an old-school Savatage bent on the verse with a Manowar-ish gang vocal on the chorus.
Much of the record is what you’d expect. Songs like “Rollin’ Thunder” and “Pandemic” are rooted very much in the early 1980s and wouldn’t have been out of place on either of those records mentioned in the first paragraph of this review. “Locked and Loaded” is a fast shredder of a song that might remind fans of “Fast as a Shark.” But there are some different touches here and there.
“Shades of Death,” which clocks in as the longest song on the record at almost seven and a half minutes, opens with a dark acoustic passage that builds slowly into another big guitar riff. It features symphonic synth pieces that seem a little odd at first, but end up working, and again shows a slightly progressive slant. Ballad “Kill the Pain” features a surprisingly soft and subtle acoustic opening that serves as a bit of a contrast to the rest of the record. There’s a slightly Spanish flavor to the song, and it gives Tornillo a chance to really shine. There’s no way that Udo could have ever pulled off a song like this. Then, there’s a pretty straight-up, old school hard rocker in “New World Comin’,” which might serve as a small nod to Tornillo’s roots. “Bucketful of Hate” opens with an interesting music box-sounding piece before blasting into a raging rocker that again shows Tornillo’s strengths as a singer.
Despite the fact that founder and guitarist Wolf Hoffman now lives primarily in the U.S. and Tornillo obviously brings an American flavor, the band retains its Germanic roots, particularly in the choruses and gang vocals. In truth, there’s not really a negative I can find on this record. It’s rock-solid and, in my opinion as a very casual fan, perhaps Accept’s best work ever. It incorporates all of the elements that the best classic metal is built on and updates them just slightly to the modern era.
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