August 28, 2018 U.D.O. – Steelfactory (Album Review)
One clear depiction of the strong as nails effect Heavy Metal has had on the world for well over 40 years now is seeing it pass through generations with the greats from the old days still rocking out today alongside their offspring in a sense of powerful timelessness. A perfect example of this comes with the current lineup of U.D.O. as Udo Dirkschneider with his son now in tow march on with new album Steelfactory, which will be released on August 31st, 2018 on AFM Records.
The band’s current lineup features Udo Dirkschneider, of course, on the commanding vocals, Andrey Smirnov on the exemplary guitars, Fitty Wienhold on the steady bass riffs, and youngest member, Sven Dirkschneider, on the charging drums. This German Heavy Metal quartet has carried a solid foundation since its late ’80s origin and has not slowed down for even a minute.
As the lead vocalist of the classic band Accept, Udo has managed to keep some of those songs in his live shows, but is toying with focusing more on the solo workings he has successfully endured through constant lineup changes. It seems with phenomenal Guitarist Andy Smirnov he may have found a new, non-blood related family member to endure the long haul with and it could not be a better match of wits.
With sixteen solo U.D.O. albums under their belts and after three years of silence, they have returned strong as an ox with the thirteen new tracks of timeless Heavy Metal classics that permeate throughout Steelfactory. Starting off with a power punch is the track “Tongue Reaper” in all its badass anthem-fused glory. Racing on to “Make The Move,” the guitar solos and antics carry forth the ravishing punishment of ear bleeding riffs for eternity. As it is known with U.D.O. in live settings a dueling guitar battle normally ensues, and although this album has that same production quality, it is in moments a bit cleaner and crisper in tone, which is still warrants much technical appreciation.
The next track “Keeper Of My Soul” is some of Udo’s finest vocal work and the guitars bode well to keep it lively and catchy. Played in a live setting there would be no complaints and much acceleration of horns in the air. In the tune “Raise The Game,” the solo work surpasses expectations and the drums start to form a stylistic approach of their own which holds well on the layering effects. Just when the peak of the album seems to have shown its true colors, the song “Blood On Fire” makes its debut shoving feelings into the veins of its listeners with a layered vocal chant and chorus able to wake the dead.
Over halfway through Steelfactory, the tune “Hungry and Angry” plows in with that unexpected silliness and charm that Udo created way back when in the ever popular “Balls To The Wall” song, as the lyrics are a bit comical yet still fit with Udo and his unexpected antics. Then for more excitement topping the song off are more creative guitar solos for that extra win of pure entertainment. Keeping with the hungry theme, “A Bite Of Evil” slips into the mix with its continued early Judas Priest vibe that slithers in its own style with the creative riffs as always.
As the last show stealer before the ballad-style final, “Eraser” blows onto center-stage as perhaps the most charged and worthy track of the album with its mind-bending solo antics of pure madness holding the thrusting beats in a position of rapid fire. The listener is immediately transformed into a live setting encompassed with witnessing shoes flying in the mosh pit due to its energetic thrash attitude. To end the righteous battle of wits is a beautifully-written acoustic ballad with Udo’s gentle vocals leading the path of destiny.
The journey alone that U.D.O. has endured over so many years, and trained his son into showing affection for, is a feat that some never get the chance to endure. Much in the way that Judas Priest or even Ozzy Osbourne has bent the sands of time to stay afloat as powerful as ever, still writing new hits that can possibly even compete with or exceed the last, Udo charges head first into the future with the best Heavy Metal family anyone could ask for.
Perhaps a true test of strength would be for the current lineup of Accept to join forces and tour with U.D.O., because at this juncture in time they are very different bands on a different path yet they still share a common goal. The days of German Heavy Metal are a far cry from over, and perhaps it has just begun. Without further hesitation CrypticRock gives U.D.O’s Steelfactory 4.5 out of 5 stars for the highly technically creative and passionate masterpiece that it is.