Udo Dirkschneider; the former Accept frontman now turned thriving one-man Heimindustrie, a metal powerhouse with seemingly no intent on ceasing production. You’d think by now the little dynamo might be running thin on ideas, but a few listens to new album Steelhammer – his sixteenth full-length studio effort under the U.D.O. imprint – will quickly disabuse you of that notion.
Sure, there are slightly woozy moments where the great man sounds a little tired, but on stomping metal workouts like Raise the Game and Blood on Fire he still roundly out-accepts Accept, even slotting in a nice little metal tango on the latter track that’ll have Wolf Hoffmann seething at the very temerity of the whole thing…
But when he’s not referencing songs from the Swing Era (the afore-mentioned tango might bring a smile to the lips of your Gran who’ll remember it from The Pajama Game, whilst Sinatra chestnut My Way gets a couple of namechecks), dear old Udo is still ready to bang some heads like it’s 1984.
Rising High is an exciting, Restless and Wild-type thriller, but the album’s faraway best track A Bite of Evil, sees the great man transcending the need to constantly reference his own past by writing a song at least the equal of his own halcyon best; This is genuinely exciting heavy metal, played by a master of the game in if not the form of his life then certainly approaching it.
One Heart One Soul is another highlight, more measured but proving the man can still write a radio-bothering anthem in the grand old style, and it’s this long-honed, wire-woolled approach to melodic flair that once again proves to be so appealing. Udo’s an old Dog, and there are no new tricks being learned here. But the old ones are in as good shape as ever, and that’s gratifying to hear.
U.D.O. will release Steelfactory on August 31st through AFM Records.