"Blood of the Nations" is another one of those albums from a reformed classic metal act that had me approaching with caution in anticipation of the big letdown. That letdown never happened. "Blood of the Nations" is the shot in the arm that fans of traditional heavy metal needed, not to mention that when the smoke clears it may end up one of the best albums of its kind in 2010. This is classic ACCEPT, updated with a (once again) phenomenal Andy Sneap recording treatment.I'll spare you the history lesson on the German heavyweights that you can read in countless other reviews, except to note that "Blood of the Nations" contains in a broad sense a number of vintage ACCEPT-isms from the pre-"Metal Heart" period. I state "in a broad sense" mainly because it's not like "Blood of the Nations" is "just like," for example, "Restless and Wild" or "Balls to the Wall" either. Rather, guitarists Wolf Hoffman and Herman Frank, bassist Peter Baltes, drummer Stefan Schwarzmann, and vocalist Mark Tornillo (ex-TT QUICK) composed a collection of tracks powered by excellent riffs that are undeniably ACCEPT in feel/tone, as well as injecting each track with a measure of character, distinctiveness, and choruses that are fundamentally memorable. You'll notice I've not made a big deal about the absence of Udo Dirkschneider, which most folks would assume to be a conspicuous one. That's because Tornilla in no way, shape, or form makes you miss the little guy. That's no knock on Udo, only a recognition that Tornillo's approach is exceptionally well suited to the ACCEPT style, whilst sounding just similar enough to Dirkschneider to offer the listener familiarity without anything resembling cheap imitation. Once you've gone past catchy speedster "Beat the Bastards", you'll not give it another thought, assuming you even thought about it in the first place. What says more than anything else about the dynamics and general appeal of the songwriting is how surprised you'll be that the 12 tracks span a whopping 67 minutes! Time flies when the fist pumps along to the choruses and the head bangs to the beats for the entirety of the trip. A seven-and-a-half minute cut like highlight "Shades of Death" is fully enveloping with its vintage riff and steady tempo, spiced up with a keyboard effect, and a chorus inclusive of those deep, sinister backing vocals that is immediately recognizable as ACCEPT. Those little things are hugely important to the album, as also evidenced by the backing vocals on the up-tempo"No Shelter" and stone-cold metal rocker "Locked and Loaded", the lockstep shouts of the title track and infectious new classic "Teutonic Terror", and the darkness of the riffs on several cuts ("The Abyss", "Pandemic", etc). "The Abyss" even includes an unexpected twisted in the way of an acoustic/piano-based break with smooth singing that is shockingly successful. Bolstering the album's dynamic aspects is the inclusion of a beautiful, ballad-esque gem called "Kill the Pain". A North American bonus track called "Time Machine" will also be included, though it didn't come with my promotional version. Take my advice here. While the old-schoolers and dissectors are spending countless hours debating the nostalgia-filtered comparative worth of ACCEPT 2010 and desperately trying to relive a past being viewed through rose-colored glasses, spend 67 of those minutes enjoying the here and now of a terrific heavy metal album in "Blood of the Nations". It will be time well spent.
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