U.D.O. - Steelhammer (AFM Records)

More of the same sure, but you won't find us complaining, oh no sir...
Release Date: 
20 May 2013 - 11:30pm

Udo. Dear old Udo. A man you feel may have been cursed by some dread Wraith one wet n’stormy night to walk the world forever in torment, compelled by fate and destiny to churn out an album full of Teutonic heavy metal every eighteen months for eternity, whether the inspiration is there or not… well that’s how it feels to me anyway.

It feels that way probably because this is the twenty fourth  studio album Udo has been involved in since Accept released their debut offering in, unbelievably, 1979. And though he’s twice managed to break the shackles of involvement with Solingen’s finest, he can’t give up the metal. And frankly, when he’s still able to come up with material as striong as some of that on Steelhammer, who cares?

Of course it sounds like Accept, especially the churningly anthemic  likes of Devil’s Bite, where new axe recruit Andriy Smirnov gives his best Wolf Hoffman impression come solo time, but Dirkschneider has a voice that is one of the most unique and recognisable in metal so there are bound to be a few similarities in everything he does, right?

Most of Udo’s solo output sounds like Steelhammer; give or take a degree or two of variation, but there is a sense of freshness and, dare I say it, excitement within it’s grooves that just begs you to get involved, submerge yourself in the fun and to hell with the cliché and retreading.

Smirnov is something of a find for Dirkschneider; his razor sharp riffage is a highlight throughout, littering songs not only with the usual Hoffman/Fischer nods but also with a nice big dose of Judas Priest’s Glenn Tipton and KK Downing for good measure. He didn’t contribute much in terms of songwriting to this album , so it’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with next time round.

For now though, content yourself with the superb singalong antics of Basta Ya (sung in Spanish for some reason but still with an irresistible chorus that begs you to join in whatever your mother tongue), the hard as nails boastathon King of Mean or the frankly ludicrous (but still daffily endearing ) ballad Heavy Rain and make sure you head out to see this newly-enlivened Udo on tour. It’ll be a blast I’m sure.