U.D.O. – Decadent (AFM Records)Thursday, 22nd January 2015
Consistency in heavy metal can be a lofty goal to attain yet rarely achieved. One hopes the fan base from the start continues on the journey of a lifetime – but people come and go as life priorities change, and the veteran artists wonder if a new generation will supplant those casualties. Udo through his golden Accept 1981-1985 years or his prolific U.D.O. career has been a model of said consistency: a unique bulletproof voice, his military uniform as cool then as Sabaton makes it now, and churning out as much material in his 60’s as he did three and four decades ago.
Following up the highly engaging Steelhammer album, young guns Andrey Sminrov and Kasperi Heikkinen got to show their axe skills all across the globe on tour – which could only benefit the follow up Decadent as the additional songwriting boost should in theory allow the best ideas to bubble to the top. Studio album fifteen contains twelve tracks that pump out the requisite variety of anthems, up tempo numbers, and occasional ballad or ‘oddball’ cut that U.D.O. needs to not wear out his welcome. Familiar reference points include the “Mean Streets”/“Holy” down to earth vibe of “Untouchable”, the aggressive, up-tempo nature of highlights “Meaning of Life” and “House of Fake” (the latter punctuated with keyboard inflections) and commercial oriented anthem “Pain” that has the solid pocket groove and group chorus that will make it a future U.D.O. live staple. All who enjoy melodic guitar work and twin ‘air’ movements should treasure this record – the duo at the top of their game to prove their worth in exotic runs, shred passages, as well as the sing-a-long harmonic touches.
It wouldn’t be U.D.O. though if he didn’t hurl a few metal off speed pitches from the creative mound to the delight of his long-timers. In this case “Mystery” has that carnival/theatrical feel, Udo throwing down some maniacal, almost spoken word passages at times while the chorus has him going in an eerie, almost Halloween-like vibe and musically the lead break contains some cool wah-wah action, while the 7:35 closer “Words in Flame” takes on an epic, almost Dio edge – his twin in structure and attitude to “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”, the closing three minutes taking on a haunting symphonic keyboard montage while the guitar break and rhythm section ebb and flow against the tide. In fact, the only ‘huh’ moment is the cover art – something fans of DRSFR period glam band Warrant may consider plagiaristic.
Another fine traditional metal record, Decadent will appease the Accept and U.D.O. mavens, and isn’t that what is desired in this genre anyways? Who knows, we could get twenty studio records from the German veteran before retirement… for legions to cherish.