U.D.O. – Steelhammer

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Review by Julian Handley

AFM Records

U.D.O. are back with their 14th studio album, Steelhammer, a glorious return to form. Not that U.D.O’s recent form has caused any great concerns, with the last two albums  Dominator and REV – Raptor both being worthy efforts, as any album bearing the growling vocals of  Udo Dirkschneider is mostly bordering on the side of greatness.

Steelhammer introduces us to the newly appointed lead guitarist Andrey Smirnov who has injected new life into the band. Andrey is credited for the playing of all guitars on the album, although the band has also been bolstered by the arrival of Kasperi Heikkinen, who joined up after the recording stage. It was always going to be a tough proposition in replacing Igor Gianola and long time servant Stefan Kaufmann in the six string department, especially with Kaufmanns involvement in the writing and creative element. But fear not as the new blood have brought about a more organic, metal vibe to the proceedings with the guitars being more subtle yet equally heavy. I personally embrace the new guitar style as I felt that Kaufmann had been getting overly, egotistical with his influence, forging a path that was becoming samey and a little stale.

Steelhammer is fourteen pulsating metal tracks of diverse heaviness, each one shrouded in the distinctive, Teutonic, growling vocals which are so instantly recognisable. The perfect balance is achieved with this album, as it has fast paced songs (‘Basta Ya’, Death Ride’, ‘Stay True’), a quality ballad (‘Heavy Rain’) and some up tempo songs (‘Time Keeper’, ‘King of Mean’, ‘Metal Machine’, ‘Steelhammer’).

Udo (the man) consistently manages to turn out quality metal with a vigour and passion that has served him so rewardingly over the last four decades from his early days in Accept through to the present. Which for a guy in his 60’s this is no mean feat. Long may it continue as he is rejuvenated by surrounding himself in young metal talent a la his new guitar team. With the future looking so promising I can’t see Udo retiring any time soon as he is the true definition of the ‘Metal Machine’.

UDO – Steelhammer8 out of 10

Track listing:

  1. Steelhammer
  2. A Cry of a Nation
  3. Metal Machine
  4. Basta Ya
  5. Heavy Rain
  6. Devil’s Bite
  7. Death Ride
  8. King of Mean
  9. Timekeeper
  10. Never Cross my Way
  11. Take my Medicine
  12. Stay True
  13. When Love Becomes a Lie
  14. Book of Faith