U.D.O. - Steelhammer

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The requisite two years have passed, the extensive touring has been done, there was a compilation album and a live DVD, which means it must be time for another new studio album from former Accept front-man Udo Dirkschneider and his band U.D.O. And of course, Steelhammer is packed with more of the same classic metal music Udo's fans love. Although the album is a little longer and the previous few efforts in terms of number of songs, they still all fit into the usual pots. To summarise, the good ballad is When Love Becomes A Lie, the bad ballad is Heavy Rain, the standard U.D.O. faster songs are Death Ride, Basta Ya, Steelhammer, Timekeeper, King of Mean, and Take My Medicine, and the slower groovers are Cry of A Nation, and Book of Faith. And as has been the case on other recent albums, the band are at their best when they're doing something a little slower, and a little different - Book of Faith, starting out in Welcome To My Nightmare territory before moving through middle-eastern sounds to a heavy riff, is not only the best song on the album, but one of the best U.D.O. songs of the last decade. But, unlike other recent albums there are one or two different kinds of songs here too. Devil's Bite, with it's quirky keyboard line occasionally popping up, is closer to European melodic metal like Sabaton than U.D.O.'s usual traditional sound, Never Cross My Way is even more melodic than that, and Metal Machine employs White Zombie-esque rhythms and drum patterns, particularly in the bridge and under the solos. But the stand-out aspect of this album is the lead guitars. For the first time in decades U.D.O. have twin lead players in new members Andrey Smirnov and Kasperi Heikkinen, and they make their presence felt on nearly every song, each turning in several blistering, melodic guitar solos, plus a little histrionics when the occasion calls for it. As well as a batch of new songs to play live, many of which can hold their own against anything in the U.D.O. catalogue, the tantalising prospect this album heralds is what the band can now accomplish even with old songs on stage now that Smirnov and Heikkinen are on board.

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2013, Albums, Heavy Metal, Quick.Play Reviews, ,

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