UDO - LIVE IN RUSSIA - BREAKER/SPV
Udo, the band of former Accept frontman Udo Dirkschneider, is for all intents and purposes the unofficial continuation of the legacy of the Teutonic metal sound of Accept. Partial to Accept for life, Udo's commitment to the superior ways of olden days has always been a welcome matter at Metallian Towers. Udo's last studio album Holy, for example, is a constant staple at the Halls Of Honour here at Metallian Towers.
Live In Russia, recorded in that country during the tour for Holy in 2001, is a good album. Two dozen Accept songs (Midnight Mover, Midnight Highway, etc.) compete for space with Udo songs like the newer Recall The Sin or the older They Want War to form an album comprised of twenty four heavy metal tunes. The Accept tunes are the better ones of course. The problem though is two-fold. Firstly, live albums are redundant in this day and age. Sure, Udo tries to interact with the audience every once in a while and the band works in a little Russian medley, but so what? At the end of the day, it is a play-by-the-numbers run at songs available elsewhere in better shape. The days when Deep Purple would launch into a twenty six minute long jam are apparently over. Secondly, the sound is on the thin side. The guitars, while adequate, are not effective. More ominously the drums have the hollow tone of death to them. It pains me to say it, but this is not the best choice out there for Accept or Udo fans. Take your chances if you must. - Ali "The Metallian"
UDO - THUNDERBALL - AFM
The latest Udo album is not quite as good as Holy from a couple of years back, but is impressive nevertheless. This man and band are nothing if not consistent in their devotion to heavy metal as one notes again with the kickoff notes of Thunderball. The title track is a powerful heavy metal anthem. The Arbiter is not quite as good, being hampered by the phrasing, but is typical Udo fare. The last two songs could easily have come from the Holy sessions. Pull The Trigger is a more simple tune with lyrics that could come off as the White House's daily briefing. Similarly, Fistful Of Anger, in tandem with the album's concept, refers to the trigger happy America. Not coincidentally perhaps, the song features a couple of Americanized leads. The Land Of The Midnight Sun has an epic feel to it and some smooth guitar melodies. The calm soon gives way to the attack of Hell Bites Back which is reminiscent of Halford's solo music. Remember Cut Me Out from the Holy album? Trainride In Russia recalls a recent trip to Russia by the band to the tune of a Russian folk song. The wailing and screaming guitars of The Bullet And The Bomb continue the album's motif, while The Magic And Mirror almost manages to fit the entire history of humanity within its text! Tough Luck II could have appeared on an Accept album and rocks with a brilliant solo. Blind Eyes closes the album after forty or so minutes in a slower fashion.
Thunderball has a second-rate cover artwork and mediocre drumming, but Udo and his boys have overall delivered another wonderful metal album. - Ali "The Metallian"
UDO - 24/7 - AFM
Funny how Accept has reformed for another kick at the can and another farewell tour. There was no need. Udo's new EP does the job of keeping the legacy of Accept alive just fine, thank you.
The disc begins with the title track which itself starts with a fantastic vintage Accept main riff. The sound of the guitar is (true metal) music to the ears of any Accept fanatic. Udo's guitarists must be the scene's most under-rated wielding fine solos and killer rhythms like no other. The single version of Mean Streets (or Mean Steets if you believe the inside cover) is similar to Judas Priest's Point Of Entry. Just check out the inspiration from Priest circa 1981 at the beginning of the song and the effect on Dirkschneider's voice on the track. Another interesting note on the vocals comes courtesy of the album's closing number, Hardcore Lover, which sees Udo mix his trademark rasp with a clean and normal voice. Again, the song basks in the presence of excellent lead guitars.
24/7 is not too far removed from material heard on Udo's excellent album, Holy. Then again, nothing here is that far removed from Accept which probably makes this EP indispensable to heavy metal fans. - Ali "The Metallian"
U.D.O. - MISSION NO X - AFM
Udo Dirkschneider and his metal soldiers run this band without all the second-guessing that accompanies many other bands. The little German man with the big throat figured out what he wants long ago and has had heavy metal fans in his grip and along for the ride ever since.
His tenth mission is no exception and contains little that is surprising. The band continues the tradition of Accept with songs like Mad For Crazy, 24/7 and Way Of Life. Not every song here is brilliant or maddeningly exciting, but the whole package sure comes close. The tunes do little to disappoint traditional heavy metal fans and always combine the proper dose of melody and sing-along with the grit and iron of Teutonic metal. Why change a winning formula?
Every one of these songs has powerful guitars, rough vocals, warm solos and solid drumming courtesy of new man Francesco Jovino. 24/7 is the album's ace, which is no coincidence for it comes very close to Accept material. Mean Streets is reminiscent of a certain single off Judas Priest's Point Of Entry album. There is even some rapping a happenin' here! Wa?? Listen to the title track and hear what is a self-referencing commercial jingle for the disc. Eve Of The Eagle - a tribute to mother nature - and Cry Soldier Cry are slow songs, with the former incorporating fantastic and affecting guitars. Stone Hard is mid-paced and puts the guitar in the front. Watch the strings shout, wail and slide. Shell Shock Fever is reminiscent of the material off the Holy album and Udo and team refuse to give an inch.
This album has its sights on the listener and will pump one with metal without faltering. Those are big words in 2005. One wishes that some 25 year olds would learn a thing or two from the 52 year old and his cohorts on this album. - Ali "The Metallian"
U.D.O. - MASTERCUTOR - AFM/CANDLELIGHT
Mastercutor (or Mastorcutor if you believe Candlelight America's sticker label on the back cover) is U.D.O.'s eleventh album and a linear and consistent effort in the annals of one of metal's most valued characters. Udo Dirkschneider and his gang of blacksmiths have issued yet another album chock full of Germanic metal anthems, loud riffing, pounding drums and, goes without saying, raspy vocals. Having said that, Mastercutor introduces a couple of subtle changes to the regimen. The production is more flat, the sound is denser and leads and solos are minimized in favour of a mid-pace chug. The whole album is introduced as a series of songs/episodes in a futuristic TV show of sorts. The Wrong Side Of Midnight, simultaneously the album's single, has a groovier Near Eastern feel, while The Instigator is probably the album's fastest and hardest song. One Lone Voice and Tears of A Clown are slow songs with the latter being reminiscent of Accept's song King. The album has its above average share of fodder too. Walker Of The Dark and We Do - For You are merely on cruise control. The latter's corny refrain of "we do - for you… everything you ask" comes across as reminiscent of Accept's commandment to "write a letter, you'll feel better" many many German moons earlier. The song Crash Bang Crash by Udo's own admission is a throwaway romp through shock rock.
Mastercutor is another good album from this great band. Is it as good as the previous album Mission No. X? Probably not. Will the band ever match the height it reached with 1999's Holy? Doubtful. Is Mastercutor worth purchasing? Yes. Is Udo still the rightful heir to the legacy of Accept? Absolutely. - Ali "The Metallian"
U.D.O. – METALLIZED – AFM/LOCOMOTIVE
Naturally, everyone with a rudimentary knowledge of the heavy metal scene and music knows Udo Dirkschneider and his band U.D.O. (Devildriver fans of course don’t count). The godfather of the continental European metal sound has insisted incessantly on recording pure heavy metal and Metallized compiles sixteen tracks from the last twenty years onto one CD. The album does feature one Accept song, Balls to The Wall, which contradicts the “20 Years Of Metal…” tag, although the classic number is presented in an acoustic format and furthermore is dismally bad. Speaking of deviation from metal, several ballads and ska parts and moments creep into the compilation as they relate to the band’s legacy. Nevertheless, Metallized (anyone recalls Sword’s Metalized album?) features powerhouses like Holy, Animal House, They Want War and 24/7 as paradigms of metallic song craft. With four rare bonus tracks, a rich booklet and the Mastercutor on the back cover this is a great sampler and worthy of eighty points especially for newcomers or those unfamiliar with the Germans’ back catalogue. – Ali “The Metallian”
When it comes to musicians who have contributed so much to heavy metal few could match the figure that is Udo Dirkschneider. Be it with Accept or be it with his band UDO the German singer and true frontman has delivered so much that it voids the need for an introduction actually. Now signed to AFM Records, Udo alongside guitarists Igor Gianola and Stefan Kaufmann, bassist Fitty Wienhold and new drummer Francesco Jovino, is back with Mission No. X which was the appropriate time to bring the readers an interview with the man. - 23.11.2005
METALLIAN: Udo, thanks for the call. We will chat about the new album next, but one question that begs to be asked is how you feel nowadays about your career and your longevity in the heavy metal arena.
UDO: Well, what can I say. You know, Mission No. X is of course the tenth studio album for UDO already which helped name the album. I think the point is that I have been doing it for so long because I still enjoy it. For me, it is a way of life this whole thing. The songs, the tours and playing in front of people is still fun for me.
METALLIAN: It is customary to say one's newest, but which one is your best album in your eyes?
UDO: It is very hard, very hard to say. Each album has its own thing, you know. For me Animal House was a very important album. It was my first one as UDO. Holy was also very good. I think we found our own sound on that album. The band really came together on that one. In a way it is important to continue the sound of the Accept, and of course the voice is still the same, but also a very important part of Accept was Stefan Kaufmann who used to be the drummer back then. When we write songs together now a lot of Accept's music comes out.
METALLIAN: Out of your new songs 24/7 begins with a patented Accept riff.
UDO:Yes, you are right. It is near to Monster Man. It just came out that way. When I heard the riff I said, 'erm, it sounds like Monster Man,' but later we said we should keep it and we don't care. 24/7 is a great song. Many songs might sound like Accept, but so what?
METALLIAN: Another new song is Hardcore Lover. You experiment with your voice there.
UDO: Yes, the voice is a little bit different. It is always up to the song, you know? I have done that before, like on Holy or elsewhere on the new album like on Mean Streets.
METALLIAN: Speaking of Mean Streets, the song reminded me of Judas Priest circa the Point Of Entry album.
UDO: (thinks)...no, I don't see that. I don't think so. There is some effect on my voice. Stefan put some effect on my voice in the spoken part of the song.
METALLIAN: Going back to Holy you would not divulge the name of the drummer who recorded the album and instead teased the fans with a 'Guess Who' remark. Are you ready to reveal the person's identity?
UDO: No, it is still hard to say. I cannot say it. Let me tell you though that if you read the liner notes' 'thanks' section you will know who played on that album. You are welcome for that hint!
METALLIAN: Where did you find your current drummer?
UDO: He is a very unknown drummer. Even our last drummer, Lorenzo Milani, was an unknown. We were lucky. When Lorenzo said he doesn't want to drum anymore and wants to leave the music business Igor told us about Francesco from Italy. They knew each other from some cover band. Igor said Francesco might be the right person. We got lucky again. Francesco learnt 25 songs in three weeks. He did a Scandinavian tour with us last year and we are very happy with him. He is a cross between Lorenzo Milani and Stefan Kaufmann. He plays heavier than Lorenzo who was more into technique.
METALLIAN: Do you find that you eclipse your musicians and they are under-rated?
UDO: Yeah, I know what you are saying. The press especially always criticizes Igor. He is a very good guitar player; same with Stefan. What can you do? They always compare them to Wolf Hoffmann which is stupid because Wolf Hoffmann is Wolf Hoffmann. You don't want a copy. I don't know sometimes what journalists are doing. When I go back to Accept we sometimes really had just one guitar player. With UDO we have two guitar players who work together. They don't have egos and work together. Many journalists criticize my guitarists. I know that.
METALLIAN: Going further back there was a report in the '80s that you have suffered a heart attack. More than 15 years later you are still going...
UDO: Those are not the right word actually. Around 1990 I had, what is the word, a body breakdown and not a heart attack. I was overworked, singing, recording, writing songs, producing and even being a manager. I was working on other albums. It was too much.
It was not a a heart attack. I remember the reports. I don't know where the report on a heart attack came from. In a way I am lucky. I have never had a problem with my voice. I have managed to stay healthy. I also stopped smoking a year ago. Especially, while on tour, you have to do your best to stay healthy. I always say that I am lucky, I am very lucky. Of course, we get drunk sometimes, but I never party or take drugs or something like that. I have always been a healthy man.
METALLIAN: Does your abandoning smoking affect your voice?
UDO: No, it does not. Well, when I stopped smoking I was thinking that if anything changes then I will start smoking again (laughs). There has been no difference though, so it is not an issue.
METALLIAN: I spoke to Wolf Hoffmann a while ago and he said something interesting about you. He mentioned that in all those years with Accept you were "asexual." What do you think he meant exactly?
UDO: Maybe it means I didn't party or maybe he was referring to groupies or something like that. I have been married now for nearly 19 years. I have two children. On tour, I was never... well, in the old old days maybe, I mean when you are young and you don't have a girlfriend and you are on the road... later, I was married and I was not interested in sex with groupies and stuff. Maybe that is what he meant. Basically, I am into my marriage.
METALLIAN: When I attended your concert in Toronto several years ago there must have been no more than 50 people there. Has that kind of an attendance turned you off returning to Canada?
UDO: Well, we came back to North America later and toured with Saxon. Furthermore, other cities like New York and Chicago we had sold out shows. New Mexico and Texas were very good. It does not matter. I mean, for me, I wait for a good package. It is also a money thing. I would love to come back of course, but who is paying for it? We get very bad offers money-wise. It makes no sense to do a couple of shows. We like to come and tour for three months and go all over the place. Maybe we will come back next spring after our European shows. Some people get me wrong though. I don't want to make money, but I also don't want to lose money. I just want everything to be paid off. I need to break even. I am definitely willing to come back. It is always up to the promoters it seems.
METALLIAN: You recently reunited Accept and did a series of shows. Wolf claims that you have been the stumbling block in front of a new Accept album.
UDO: This is completely stupid, sorry. The idea behind reuniting Accept is now two or three years old, but I never had time for it. I was touring and writing and recording a new album. The plan was that I would do it when I was not busy with UDO. Then Accept called me up during last year's Scandinavian tour and they were telling me that they have heard that I have some time and a break is coming up and how about we reform Accept for some shows? I said OK, but first we have to check with the record company, the old members, my band now and then we will see. Then I had to write and record my new album which I had to complete by late February or March. I made it clear to Accept that I will do this as a special event tour. There will be no reunion, there will be no new album and I will go back to promoting my new album and touring for it. Wolf had also said to me that he has no interest in doing a new album. Now something has happened. It is very crazy. Maybe Wolf found out that he wants to get back into the music business. Of course, he can get back into the music business, but it would be without me! It is not possible that we compose songs together. I have been doing UDO for so many years. That was completely clear from the beginning. The only thing that is happening at the moment is that we might do a live DVD of Accept from Wacken festival. I am waiting for some information on that. That is the only thing that will be coming out. I had already done a reunion with Accept and it did not work. We did three albums together, namely Objection Overruled, Dearthrow and Predator and we found out, especially with Predator, that the magic was gone. Stefan was not involved which showed how important he was in Accept. It is very complicated to explain.
METALLIAN: How about old Accept video footage?
UDO: In a way, and it is a shame, but there is nothing there. Of course, we have tons of really private stuff, old stuff from the beginning of the '80s, but there is nothig to put on a DVD. Everything we had is on the Metal Blast From The Past DVD. I know people would be interested in the really old stuff, so there is a little bit of stuff so you never know. Maybe sometime we can put out something like that.
The man is a living wonder and responsible for some of the best heavy metal both with Accept and with UDO. Could there be anyone left out there who has missed out?
Udo the man and U.D.O. the band are back with studio album number eleven, Mastercutor. Consistent, yet evolved, the new album continues the band's insistence on traditional heavy metal with singer Udo Dirkschneider's raspy trademark vocals. Flanked by guitarists Igor Gianola and Stefan Kaufmann, bassist Fitty Wienhold and drummer Francesco Jovino the diminutive singer is hardly about to pause or stop as the below conversation with editor Ali "The Metallian" makes clear. - 23.05.2007
METALLIAN: Udo, Mastercutor is an exercise in consistency in quality heavy metal. The inspiration and the energy are apparently not at a premium after all these years.
UDO: What can I say? Sometimes I worry about having good ideas for the albums when it comes time to write a new one, but in a way we are lucky - especially Stefan Kaufmann and me - because when it comes to writing songs it is still there.
It is very important to have good lyrics. With Accept and now with U.D.O we travel so much around the world, see so many things, always read the newspaper, watch the news and read books. You see what is happening around the world day after day. In the last couple of years, actually since the Holy album, we did the reverse of most metal bands. We first have lyrics, then hook lines and then we collect musical ideas from the members that fit the lyrics. Perhaps that is one of the secrets. I don't know. The music comes from the inside. I am very lucky.
METALLIAN: Musicians always talk about the need for change and so-called progression, but you seem happy with your established sound.
UDO: The new album's sound definitely has changed. Of course, we have modern studios nowadays that are digital and so on and the sound now is more modern than previous albums Mission No. X or Thunderball, but the music is still the same of course. We were creating a sound and a style with Accept, of course guitarist Wolf Hoffmann had his own sound in Accept, but the basic sound and the song writing still has a lot of Accept in it to this day. I don't want to change that. Bands changed their sound when metal wasn't so hip and Guns 'N Roses came out or grunge happened, but they did it completely wrong. People tell us they are glad we don't change our style and what can I say? I like this style of music!
METALLIAN: So who is Mastercutor?
UDO: Mastercutor is a shortened version of 'master executor.' He is the host of a stupid talk show, game show or a reality show like the ones we have on TV. We first had the lyrics, then the cover and things developed. We added the intro where he introduces the program in the studio. It is a little concept for us where he directs the whole album as a TV show.
The songs are not really connected though. Of course, everything is a game. It is our nature to play games. The lyrics are games and reality-based, but there is not a real concept. The intro, songs and outros are meant to be a part of the show. At the end of the album you hear the line "I am not dead yet," which means we survived everything.
METALLIAN: What is the song Tears Of A Clown about?
UDO: A clown in a circus exists to make people laugh. Sometimes though a clown doesn't feel like making people laugh, you know? Sometimes when we are on tour and we are experiencing problems at home or elsewhere we don't feel like going on stage and performing. The show has to go on though. That is the meaning behind the song.
METALLIAN: Do you personally identify with the lyrics?
UDO: In a way you can say the answer is yes. Sometimes some shit happens to me and I am not in the mood to go on stage and perform. You cannot go on stage and say, 'hello everybody. I am not in a good shape today. I have some problems at home. Sorry about my performance.' People are not interested in that. The show must go on.
METALLIAN: Whom are you singing about in Walker Of The Dark?
UDO: Do you know Hamburg's red light district, the Reeperbahn? That is the lyrics. It is a place where you can have everything.
METALLIAN: I am curious about the oddball song, Crash Bang Crash.
UDO: Those are not really words that mean something, except it stands for power. It is just a straightforward rock and roll song. It is also a little bit funny. It is nothing special, I would say.
It is like Gary Glitter's stuff, you know? We always have a guy with us from England when we write lyrics. We can speak English and we can write in English, but we have somebody who looks over our lyrics to make sure that everything is right. We told him we were looking for something that sounds like a rock 'n roll song and he came up with Crash Bang Crash. It is slang and stands for power.
METALLIAN: It is like the phrase 'balls to the wall.'
UDO: Yes, in a way you can compare the two phrases.
METALLIAN: Whose decision is it to routinely release an EP prior to the full-length? Mastercutor was preceded by The Wrong Side Of Midnight EP.
UDO: Ahh, this is coming from the record company. With heavy metal, you normally don't need an EP or a single. It doesn't work. The record company wants something for promotion and radio and bla bla bla and they do it. It is a marketing thing.
METALLIAN: You have also resurrected the paratrooper military uniform. It seemed retired for a while back there.
UDO: I have always worn it on stage - sometimes less and sometimes more. I try to get away with it, but then people say you cannot use it. I always try to wear the camouflage outfit. A couple of years ago people were saying I cannot wear the camouflage because of Nazis. That is strange because even girls are wearing it now. It has nothing to do with Nazi or military stuff. I have been wearing it since 1982 or 1983. Perhaps it was a little unknown back then and people were thinking I am into the military, but nowadays it is just part of the image of Udo.
Especially in Lyon, France in 2004 during the Thunderball tour we started playing Fast As A Shark with the 'Heidi, Heido, Heida' intro and people went nuts. I mean come on! It is a German folk song, what is this? People shouldn't take things too seriously, but I don't know about the French people who are also a little bit… I don't know. I am more a European now anyway. One guy in Udo is from Switzerland, another guy is from Italy and even the bassist lives in Spain. Only Stefan and me live in Germany.
METALLIAN: Finally, how is your relationship with Peter Baltes and Wolf Hoffmann of Accept?
UDO: We did the tour in Europe, Japan and even went to Russia in 2005. But we were together only for live shows. It was a tribute to Accept. It was a lot of fun, but it was clear from the beginning that it was not a reunion. That would mean going into the studio, writing songs and touring. People ask me if it would happen again and I am not saying 'no.' Perhaps if I have time, beside U.D.O, why not do a couple of shows with Accept? Wolf now lives in Germany again and we talk from time to time. I e-mail Peter too and there are no problems at all. Everything else you read in magazines is bullshit. It was clear to Wolf that I would not be involved in an album. It is OK to do some shows as it is a lot of fun, but I don't want to destroy U.D.O. This is now the perfect band. It is a family now and we are successful worldwide. I am really happy now. We did a regular reunion once and it didn't work out. Maybe we will do a couple of shows from time to time. Maybe in two years Accept will do a couple of shows and we will record a live album and a DVD during the festivals. No way though to a reunion!
METALLIAN: Finally, it is time for the bonus question of the day. What was the inspiration or story behind the lyrics to Accept's Princess Of The Dawn?
UDO: It is a 'Cinderella' story. It does not have a deep meaning. It is like a Lord Of The Rings fantasy. It is not related to any legend like King Arthur and wasn't inspired by a particular book or story.
Mastercutor has just been released through AFM Records in Germany and Candlelight in North America. The band has new management and a new booking agent and is looking forward to a North American tour in early 2008.