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U.D.O. Steelhammer

By Rob McNees, Vinyl Aficionado
Friday, July 26, 2013 @ 4:20 PM

Despite Lineup changes, U.D.O. Delivers A Solid Effort

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2013 saw the dawn of a new era for the Teutonic Terror, UDO. His longtime partner in crime, ex-ACCEPT drummer and U.D.O. guitarist/producer was hanging up his axe due to health issues. So who would UDO write with? And what would the results be?? For a songwriting partner, in steps bassist Fitty Wienhold. AND not 1, but 2 new guitarist. Kasperi Heikkinen from Finland, who joined too late to be involved in the album, and Andrey Smirnov, who played all tracks. As for the results??

The title track "Steelhammer" hits you like one with a thick, heavy riff and that classic UDO voice. Being unknown (to me for sure), Andrey kicks things off with some fine leads and tasty harmonies.

"A Cry Of A Nation" slows things down a bit with a slower, plodding riff. A fist-banging type of song live I'll bet. And real-life lyrics, no fantasy stuff here.

"Metal Machine" starts out with an average riff before kicking-in to the riff right out of "Thunderkiss '65" by WHITE ZOMBIe! That should let you know how this one stacks up.

"Basta Ya" has that classic Maiden galloping riff and ACCEPT-like background vocals.

"Heavy Rain" is up next, and shockingly is a straight-up ballad. Yes, like 80's lighters in the air ballad. Musically it reminds me of something off of The White Album by the BEATLES. If you ever heard MOTORHEAD's ballad "Don't Let Daddy Kiss Me" then you'll know that's its up to the listener to decide if it works for them or not. But props to UDO for stepping outside the box on that one.

"Devil's Bite" starts with electronics and a riff that is a dead-on reminder of RAMMENSTEIN for me. I personally dig RAMMENSTEIN so this tune is cool for me.

"Death Ride" is the most uptempo track on the album, with a driving rhythm and almost thrash chorus! Solid drumming by Francesco Jovino on this one.

"King Of Mean" has the classic E-riff and classic UDO vocally over it. A haunting keyboard gives it a nice eerie touch in parts. Heads will bang I have no doubt!

"Timekeeper" is another slow pounder, with some cool vocal effects on UDO's voice. A sing-along chorus adds to the songs memorable factor.

"Never Cross My Way" is much more subdued. In fact if the US actually had radio stations like it did when i was growing up then this would be the 'radio single'. Not bad by any stretch but definitely more accessible. I think it would do well too.

You can't help but notice the crisp production, and do not think that production is an alien job for UDO. Back in the 80's he had a production team with the legendary Michael Wagener called Double Trouble Productions. RAVEN's All For One is a shining example of this formidable duo.

"Take My Medicine" is another rifftastic tune, with some more solid axeslinging from Andrey.

"Stay True" starts off with a scream from UDO and another punishing riff. Another uptempo aggressive track, this easily could have been on the untouchable ACCEPT album i<>Restless And Wild. One of my favorites on the album to be sure.

"When Love Becomes A Lie" slows things down in a hurry however, as its not a ballad but a more subdued, mellower song.

"Book Of Faith" reminds me musically of something off of an early James Bond soundtrack. Probably due to the Dick Dale sounding guitar before it turns heavy. Very unusual track but still Metal, no doubt.

What a way to end the album, and props to U.D.O. the band for going outside the box a bit but still producing a pure Heavy Metal album. Recommended for all ACCEPT fans, UDO fans, and Metalheads in general.

**** out of 5 stars!

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