U.D.O. - Mastercutor

AFM Records
Produced by Stefan Kaufmann

I should really preface this by saying I've never liked U.D.O. Or Accept. Never really seen what's so special about them at all. Apart from some obvious classics like Accept's Balls To The Wall I've always found the riffs weak, the songs boring and the lyrics stupid. Let alone namesake Udo Dirkschneider's voice being somewhat of a 'unique' taste. But, I love other nasally singers like Axl Rose and Brian Johnson, so I've never ruled him out if he were to sing some really good songs.

Mission No. X, the last U.D.O. studio release, was a very similar story as far as I was concerned. Weak riffs and uninspired songs (although nothing as dire as Trainride To Russia from Thunderball). And following the faux talk show intro to title track and opener Mastercutor as soon as Dirkschneider opens his mouth he sounds like he's parodying himself. It's like Udo in overdrive, and a strong sign that the new album is going to be no different.

However, once tuned into him, and you do have to get tuned into him, the brilliance of this album soon becomes apparent. The album's songs can be divided into three distinct groups quite easily and the tracking has been done in such a way as to perfectly mix the three types and keep the pace of the record varied and interesting. The first is laid down by the opener, a driving, fast and anthemic slab of classic metal with a hooky chorus, and it shows straight away that the riffs from Igor Gianola and Stefan Kaufmann (yes, the Accept drummer) are much sharper than before. Instigator, Master of Disaster, We Do - For You, The Devil Walks Alone and closer Crash Bang Crash all follow this mould with blistering solos and fist-pumping choruses.

The second group is especially characterised by the second track, and first single, The Wrong Side of Midnight. Heavy again, but slower paced with a huge groove adds something different to the stock metal template. In this particular case master strokes like the suddenly quiet chorus and the Egyptian chanting (mirrored later in the beginning of the guitar solo) add up to an incredibly enjoyable song, and later songs with a similar grooving feel are Walker In The Dark, the crushing Vendetta and Dead Man's Eyes.

Finally two songs sit neatly in the ballad group where Udo totally shocked me with his melodic voice. This is probably no surprise to existing fans, but I was stunned to hear him singing with no raspiness at all on the magnificent One Lone Voice and later on Tears of A Clown. These two, slotted in between the heavy tracks, break up the album perfectly, and keeping it to just two ballads (take note, Mr. Bon Jovi) means there aren't too many points where the album's tempo breaks up.

A lot of touring is planned for this album, stretching well into 2008, including territories they don't visit too often, and finally, in my eyes, it's an album which deserves it. Only Crash Bang Crash lets the side down as being a fairly week and directionless metal romp, but otherwise this is U.D.O.'s best work.

“ have to get tuned into him ”

Tracklist: Mastercutor / The Wrong Side of Midnight / The Instigator / One Lone Voice / We Do - For You / Walker In The Dark / Master of Disaster / Tears of A Clown / Vendetta / The Devil Walks Alone / Dead Man's Eyes / Crash Bang Crash
Special Edition Bonus Tracks - Europe: Borderline / Screaming Eagles
Special Edition Bonus Track - Russia: Platchet Soldat
Special Edition Bonus Track - Japan: Man A King Ruler

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2007, Albums, Heavy Metal, ,

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