Released: 1994, RCA Records
Editors Note. Metal-Rules.com was founded in 1995 as a forward thinking site. Our goal is, and always has been, to support Real Metal. The decision was made that very rarely do we ever go back and review an album from before 1995. Does the world really need another CD review of MASTER OF PUPPETS, POWERSLAVE or SCREAMING FOR VENGEANCE? We don’t think so. We have always supported what is happening now.
Starting in January, 2014, as we head towards our 10,000th review and the 20th Anniversary of Metal-Rules.com, we are looking back and filling in a few gaps in the review database. We want to complete the post-1995 review catalogue of some of the bands that we have supported since 1995, when very few, if any website were supporting real Metal. It’s fun to go back and revisit some of these albums that we did not review when they were first released. Enjoy!
Back in the early ‘90s, metal fans were lucky to experience the first reunion of Accept with the solid OBJECTION OVERRULED album. While that album was undoubtedly good, its similarity to the band’s ‘80s albums made it feel a bit like the band were content to relive past glories, rather than forge new paths. When DEATH ROW arrived in 1994, it smashed those (mis)conceptions to pieces.
While the usual Accept pieces were still in place, including the same four-piece lineup as the previous album, DEATH ROW is undoubtedly an evolved beast, one that was more mature lyrically and more vicious & heavy musically. Have no fear; Accept didn’t suddenly become death metal or grindcore, they were still playing their melodic Teutonic metal, but there’s no question that this album was an up-ratchet in aggression for the band. It’s a loaded album too – 15 tracks! That’s a lot of heavy music, and although DEATH ROW contains some great songs, it has its share of filler too.
Having said that, the more I listen to and revisit this album, I’m convinced that the first 11 tracks on the album are prime-grade Accept, particularly the first 6 songs. Unlike the next album, PREDATOR, the band keeps their inner AC/DC mostly hidden, only busting it out when needed to break up all the newfound heaviness (see “Bad Habits Die Hard”). Track for track, this is a damn strong album that could have been almost perfect if not for the four filler songs that close out the album.
As for the performances, the band is spot-on as always. Udo’s unique snarl is firmly in place, while you envision the smile that is on Wolf Hoffman’s face as he tears out these riffs and solos. Peter Baltes’ is an underappreciated musician, and his bass lines, while not standout, are always appreciated, as are his backing vocals. As for Stefan Kaufmann, the man has pounded the skins for 14 Accept albums (live & studio), and played guitar on another 13 U.D.O. albums, so his contributions cannot be overstated.
Many fans disliked this album at the time it was released, but coming back to this album after many years away, I’m quite confident in calling it the best of the 3 original comeback albums as the band found a way to refine their classic formula without dumbing it down as they would on their next one. In short, DEATH ROW is a proud Accept album; go back and give it a listen and you just might be surprised.