After 25 years, U.D.O. still continues to roll out the goods
Udo Dirkschneider – a household name to the older generation of metalheads who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, maybe not so much the younger generation; but I’m sure all metalheads know of the band Accept and the song “Balls to the Wall”. It’s been a metal anthem ever since it was released way back in 1983. The man behind the mic, Udo Dirkschneider, formed his solo band in 1987 til 1992 (when he returned to Accept), before again leaving and returning to his solo band in 1996. Since then U.D.O. has delivered solid albums featuring gimmick free straight up heavy metal with an old school influence. U.D.O.’s latest album (their 13th) is entitled ‘Rev-Raptor’ and was released back in May of 2011. This review for it may be a year late, but I guess it’s better late than never.
When it comes to Udo Dirkschneider and U.D.O. in particular, you know what to expect and what you see is what you get. Similar to another long-standing band, AC/DC, both U.D.O. and Acca Dacca don’t and haven’t needed to change their style since day 1. Their style of straight up hard rock and heavy metal may be simple, but it’s highly infectious, catchy and most importantly; successful.
Udo’s partner in crime, guitarist Stefan Kaufmann, has been an integral part of U.D.O. ever since Dirkschneider asked him to join the band in 1996, after Accept’s second break-up. Not forgetting U.D.O.’s second guitarist Igor Gianola (ex-Jorn, ex-Wild Wily’s Gang), who’s superb strumming over the years has resulted in so many metalheads damaging their necks. A very solid line-up, the most recent member has been drummer Francesco Jovino, who has been in U.D.O. since 2005.
U.D.O. has been in a high quality album purple-patch as of late, starting (arguably) with 2005’s ‘Mission No. X’ and following through with ‘Mastercutor’ in 2007 and ‘Dominator’ in 2009. So if either or all of those albums brought a smile to your face in remembrance, then the latest CD ‘Rev-Raptor’ is a disc that you should be hunting down. While the cover-art on U.D.O.’s CDs has never been anything to write home about since their debut, you never judge a book by its cover as the old saying goes.
The title track starts like a clap of thunder with pounding drums slamming down followed by a shriek from Udo and the main guitar riff sings out; the track is flying by this stage. Udo’s unique and signature vocals slice through the metal air, proving that he’s still got it at almost 60 years of age (take note, Meatloaf). The chorus is of course catchy as hell and the guitar solo is nothing short of sensational. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve heard the same U.D.O. structure for their songs over the years, it still sounds so good, so catchy. It’s one of those unanswerable questions in the universe, how does it sound so good when I’ve heard it hundreds of times before? I don’t know – it just does.
More ball busting songs off the album come in the form of “Renegade”, which starts with a wild guitar riff followed by bruising and bombastic drum pounding and heavy bass from Fitty Weinhold. The track is relentless and energetic, giving your air guitar a massive workout in the process. Another powerful solo clinches it and you must hit the repeat button to hear it again. “Dr. Death” continues the flurry of full-throttle tracks on ‘Rev-Raptor’, with riffs galore, pulverizing drumming and Udo’s insatiable vocals buzzing in your ears. The first “anthem” track sings out, that reminds me greatly of Accept material, with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Soldiers”. Slower in pace to the previous tracks, however still as powerful, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Soldiers” will certainly be a track that gets played live during an U.D.O. gig.
There’s plenty more to enjoy from the excellent ‘Rev-Raptor’, including the slower-paced and lyrically dark-tinged “Underworld”, the grinding and boisterous “Pain Man” and the thundering hot “Motor-Borg”, which contains the best and catchiest chorus on the album, that you can’t help but to sing along to.
In the end, it comes down to consistency, and ‘Rev-Raptor’ certainly has that and then some. Not one dull moment in the disc and despite the simplicity of the tracks, Udo and company just know how to come up with kick ass songs; after all Udo’s had over 40 years experience under his belt in this game. The bottom line here – it’s Udo Dirkschneider, you know Accept and you know U.D.O.; you know what you like and if you’re salivating at the mouth from reading this review, then you know ‘Rev-Raptor’ is for you. It’s that simple.
Just a side note at the time of this review, is that U.D.O. has just recently released a two-disc compilation album named ‘Celebrator’ that contains rare material such as non-album tracks, bonus tracks from previously released CDs and remixes of other songs, both well known and not so well known. While hearing the rare songs for the first time (for me) is quite interesting, it also feels like an official brand new album even though it’s not; and just another reason for fans to grab both this and ‘Rev-Raptor’ at the same time.