U.D.O. – “Steelhammer”

U.D.O. – “Steelhammer” (AFM Records)

The grandaddy of metal is back! Last year was a difficult one for legendary vocalist Udo Dirkschneider given long time partner guitarist / producer Stephan Kaufmann left the band owing to health reasons. Instead, Udo recruited two new guitarists in Andrey Smirnov from Russia and Kasperi Heikkinen from Finland, who together have brought not just fresh new blood into the band but also a more organic sound that’s reflected in the production which was done by Udo in the traditional setting of a recording studio. Musically, “Steelhammer” is also a hark back to the early days of the band considering the speed metal of ‘Death Ride’ or the lean n hungry ‘King Of Mean’ – and if you want it slow n heavy, then hold out for ‘Timekeeper’! Elsewhere he takes a more mainstream metal approach with the melodic n easy ‘Never Cross My Way’ or the sultry ‘When Love Becomes A Lie’ although I was a little taken aback by ‘Basta Ya’ where Udo’s singing in Spanish lol. These days the 61 year old may not be quite the air raid siren he was in his youth, but there’s still enough of a mean old cat to shake it out to the 14 tracks on “Steelhammer” that are Euro metal at their most classic!

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