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U.D.O. - 'Steelhammer' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/35/0d/3e/udo-steelhammer-49-1381521164.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     October 11, 2013    
 
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A step in the right direction musically, at times recalling Accept at their most melodic.

Roxette once released a greatest hits album titled 'Don't Bore Us – Get To The Chorus', and I think it's a pretty safe bet Udo and his band haven't listened to the afore-mentioned album, never mind taken its mantra to heart. The ironic thing here is that musically, this is quite possibly the most melodic album UDO have released since 'Faceless World' way back in 1990, an album that is my favourite of the former Accept vocalist's solo output. It is also Dirkschneider's favourite too, as he told me in our last interview, which makes it doubly ironic that the choruses on 'Steelhammer' are oft of the repetitive chant or almost talking ilk, eschewing the more vibrant and interesting arrangements of 'Faceless World' or Accept's 'Breaker', another mutual favourite.

'Steelhammer' sees the recruitment of two new guitarists in Andrey Smirnov and Kasperi Heikkinen, and, with former Accept colleague Kaufmann having left, song-writing duties have been picked up by bassist Fitty Weinhold. Quite how much say the new axe-men have in the solos and musical arrangements is not clear, but it is certainly a hark back to the glory days of Accept. However, the unfortunate thing would seem to be that the guys have taken the song 'Balls To The Wall' as the template, with many of the songs offering that same relentless grind and repetition on the choruses, opener 'Steelhammer' and single 'Metal Machine' both being equally guilty.

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Admittedly there are attempts to break the mould, the up-tempo 'Basta Ya' being sung entirely in Spanish (with an actually catchy chorus) whilst the following track 'Heavy Rain' is an emotional ballad backed solely by piano and cello. A wonderful idea, though unfortunately the quality of the song is not really benefiting the execution. However, this is a direction I'd love to see the band explore further. Following tracks like 'Death Ride', 'King Of Mean', 'Timekeeper' and 'Take My Medicine' stick to the formula, giving us great riffs and solos, brought down by boring, unmemorable choruses. It's left to 'Never Cross My Way' and closing track 'When Love Becomes A Lie' to inject some imagination and melody into the choruses, but by then it's a case of too little too late.

For fans of 'Balls To The Wall' and the more straight forward UDO songs of the past, there's plenty here to love. For those of us harking back to a more imaginative time, then there are moments, but not enough of them. Definitely a step in the right direction musically, at times recalling Accept at their most melodic – just please be more imaginative in the choruses!

Bruce Mee

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