ACCEPT: DEATH ROW (1994)
1) Death Row; 2) Sodom And Gomorra; 3) The Beast Inside; 4) Dead On!; 5) Guns 'R' Us; 6) Like A Loaded Gun; 7) What Else; 8) Stone Evil; 9) Bad Habits Die Hard; 10) Prejudice; 11) Bad Religion; 12) Generation Clash II; 13) Writing On The Wall; 14) Drifting Away; 15) Pomp And Circumstance.
This isn't bad. But if you want to get a decent idea of what this record sounds like, try taking a deep breath and yelling out all the song titles, in a row, taking note of my brief comments: "DEATH ROW!" (mid-tempo, martial-like, as if you were sending someone in that direction); "SODOM AND GOMORRA!" (fast, indignant, as if this is where you were living in); "THE BEAST INSIDE!" (mid-tempo, sneeringly, like a cross between Punch and Mephisto); "DEAD ON!" (slow, with a good mixture of self-importance and machismo); "GUNS 'R' US!" (mid-tempo, with a modicum of pride, as befits someone who could have this written on his door); "LIKE A LOADED GUN!" (mid-tempo, stern, could be from an imaginatory Terminator soundtrack!); "STONE EVIL!" (mid-tempo, ominous, don't go there or it will tear you limb from limb); "BAD HABITS DIE HARD!" (fast, a little bit à la Dirty Harry, sounds great right before you whomp that sucker); "PREJUDICE!" (mid-tempo, boring, out of steam); "BAD RELIGION!" (mid-tempo, boring, completely out of steam).
Death Row is every critic's dream — it is an album that's more formulaic than the critic's own approach; if musicians can be so predictable and derivative, why can't people that write about the music? One riff per song (not all the riffs are good), one gang chorus per song, and not even Udo can elevate this to a higher level because he frankly sounds disinterested: like a seasoned pro, he gives it his all, but he doesn't try even remotely to give it something extra.
The album makes good use of the allowed length of the CD — for instance, instead of one pompous, unnecessary instrumental, we have two (in a row!), and it also allows the band to offer us a remake of 'Generation Clash', with Udo on vocals this time (it doesn't work much better than the first time, though). This means that you can pretty much shut the album off after 'Bad Religion', but not every dedicated fan will probably be able to sit straight through everything else: the stiff formula gets so mind-numbing eventually that one can honestly become ashamed about letting one's brain gather dust on the nearby shelf for so long.
Technically, this is Hoffmann's show all the way — he handles lead and rhythm duties, making the arrangements seem a bit sparse. He's also trying to be inventive, throwing on wah-wah and other effects to make the proceedings more "brutal"; in the process, the band pretty much invents "nu-metal" with the title track ('Death Row' does not at all sound unlike Korn and Limp Bizkit). He also tries to brush up on his classical influences with the reproduction of Khachaturian's 'Sabre Dance' theme in 'Sodom & Gomorra' — pure kitsch but quite refreshing in the overall context of the album, I must say.
Overlong, uninventive, curiously lifeless, this is a serious letdown after the promises of Objection Overruled; nevertheless, lower your expectations, throw away your ambitions, and you'll still have enough to get your ass kicked properly. Thumbs down from the brain, but the heart insists on having a tight E.P. shaped from the album's four or five best tracks and thereby proving that in 1994, the band was still going relatively strong.