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Review: U.D.O. - Steelhammer

Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2013
Duration: 1:01:32
Tracks: 14
Genre: Heavy Metal


Review online: June 11, 2013
Reviewed by: MetalMike
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4/5 (80%) (19 Votes)

Steelhammer is, amazingly, the 14th full-length album from Udo Dirkschneider's eponymous band, originally formed when he left Accept back in 1987. That's four more than Dirkschneider recorded (in two separate stints) with the band that originally made him famous in Heavy Metal circles. U.D.O., the band, has been nothing if not consistent, despite numerous line-up changes at every position, save vocals. They have always produced quality, if sometimes pedestrian, Heavy Metal. The songwriting has maintained itself a notch below the best work Dirkschneider created with his former band. The riffs are crunchy, but not killer, the choruses catchy, but not infectious. Steelhammer addresses some of those criticisms with a rapid series of blows to the head. The first four songs, from "Steelhammer" to the Spanish-language "Basta Ya" are easily some of the best music Dirkschneider has created since the glory days of the mid-80s. Guitarist #9, Andrey Smirnov (this band goes through guitar players like Henry VIII went through wives) cranks out some mean riffs and flashy solos while Dirkschneider himself has lost none of the gravel in his voice despite years behind the microphone. As with past albums, Steelhammer goes off the rails a bit with dull ballads ("Heavy Rain") and odd songwriting ("Devil's Bite") before getting back on track with killer tracks like "King of Mean." With 14 songs, Steelhammer is probably 2-3 songs too long and some of the filler could easily have been left off without diminishing the album in any way.

There are certainly a few spots that you'll probably want to skip, but Steelhammer is a satisfyingly consistent album from U.D.O., one that has more than a few classic Accept moments to bring a smile to your face.

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