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U.D.O. - 'Steelhammer, Live From Moscow' Hot

Added by Franco     July 18, 2014    
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Overall a very fine addition to the U.D.O. legacy.

This is a live album from the 'Steelhammer' tour dedicated to U.D.O.'s magnificent Russian fans. They were one of the very first International Metal bands to tour the country – a fact that their dedicated fans have never forgotten. So once the opportunity of recording and filming their Moscow Arena Hall concert on September 28th 2013 presented itself, Udo Dirkschneider didn't hesitate to take up the offer.

Featuring seven songs from last year's 'Steelhammer' album which was the fourteenth of Dirkschneider's twenty-three years as a solo artist (taking into account a five year and three album tenure with Accept). It was also the first album not to feature former Accept drummer, U.D.O. guitarist and song-writing partner Stefan Kaufmann who retired from the band due to illness and also saw the departure of sixteen year veteran guitarist Igor Gianola for personal reasons. In place for the 'Steelhammer' album and tour stepped in Russian Andrey Smirnov and three weeks before their first show they recruited Finn Kasperi Heikkinen from Symphonic Power Metalers Amberian Dawn. Long-time bass player and new writing partner Fitty Weinhold, drummer Francesco Jovino and touring keyboard player Ulli Kollner completed the line-up.

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Due to Kaufmann's involvement in the band, U.D.O. had been playing many classic Accept "covers" at all their shows for years including 'Balls To The Wall', 'Princess Of The Dawn', 'I'm A Rebel' and 'Fast As A Shark', but for this live album and indeed the European tour as a whole, without Kaufmann only the classic 'Metal Heart' survived the cull as the final encore, but a sterling job the new guys made of it. Alongside the "promotion" of their latest album, it was Dirkschneider's intention to deliver a lot of classic U.D.O. songs and fan favourites that they hadn't played for many, many years so no doubt Smirnov and Heikkinen had their work cut out, in Heikkinen's case having to learn at least twenty songs in a very short space of time.

The set-list from this show was pretty much the same for the whole European tour. From U.D.O.'s debut 'Animal House' (that fans with long memories will recall featured ex-Warlock members Peter Szigeti and Frank Rittel) we get 'They Want War', 'In The Darkness' and 'Go Back To Hell'. From the following three albums we were treated to six more classics plus 'No Limits' and 'Azrael' from 1998 and 1999's 'Holy' as first encore which meant the previous six albums to 'Steelhammer' weren't represented making this live album truly a U.D.O. nostalgia trip.

Available as a DVD/2CD or Bluray/2CD package, the more adventurous can also buy it as a triple vinyl album in Russian National (Tricolour) colours. I wasn't given a copy of the DVD but the two clips I was able to view on U.D.O.'s own website would suggest that it was a basic stage set-up with the traditional U.D.O. logo raised behind Jovino's drum kit and lots of bright white spotlights that are schizophrenic at times. At a guess (based on one of the clips) I'd say Smirnov does all his own solos from the 'Steelhammer' album with the two guitarists sharing the others but the twin harmonies were impressive and the overall sound, particularly the 'crunch' of the more brutal songs, was crisp and aurally exciting. The camerawork was also good, giving some decent long range and audience views and not pandering to the modern millisecond viewing angles that turn your brain into a fizzing headache inducing lump of jelly, but giving a relaxed view that doesn't distract you from the music. Overall a very fine addition to the U.D.O. legacy.

Carl Buxton

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