U.D.O. – Game Over (AFM Records)Monday, 8th November 2021
The German tank plows forward, even in an eighteen-month pandemic that stalled numerous touring and festival opportunities. Game Over is the seventeenth studio record for U.D.O. – a total band effort in terms of the songwriting duties as Udo Dirkschneider entrusts the abilities of his younger lineup to keep the traditional metal machine moving through a set of up-tempo, mid-tempo, and ballad-oriented material. Since the last studio album Steelfactory from 2017, guitarist Fabian Dee Dammers (The Treatment) and bassist Tilen Hudrap (ex-Vicious Rumors, ex-Paradox) have joined long running guitarist Andrey Smirnov and drummer Sven Dirkschneider (Udo’s son) to create another exciting and dynamic effort that checks off all the requisite boxes one wants from the Teutonic legend.
Catchy guitar runs/melodies and easy on the brain choruses along with solid rhythm section work are the main drivers for Udo to deliver his unique, unmistakable gritty vocals, gang-like background vocals in all the key places for added retention spacing. “Fear Detector” is the ideal anthem start off, Andre and Dee teaming up for the highlight circular / crunchy riff parts and wild solo breaks. When the band chooses to go a bit more upbeat for “Prophecy”, Sven’s galloping drums along with the multi-part gang vocals give this energetic cut a dynamic boost, reminding this scribe of an updated version of “Restless and Wild”. Infusing a bit more modern textures for specific tracks like “Empty Eyes” and “Thunder Road” should appease the younger generation, yet U.D.O. never sacrifices those steady hooks, earworms, or catchy touches that will get the metalheads screaming and shouting along. Tackling everything from his personal metal history on “Metal Never Dies”, as well as social/political concerns from international arms trade, peace issues, minors being shot in schools, child soldiers that are addressed in “Holy Invaders” as well as “Kids and Guns” – you know that Udo has plenty to say to match the heavy metal proceedings. And of course, what U.D.O. record wouldn’t be complete with a ballad – this time more acoustic/piano driven for “Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye” where the man takes on a tender left-field switch, using a softer, clean/lower register outlook that wrenches out every tear duct for those who experience the loss of a loved one.
If you love Accept, you probably know U.D.O. is a reliable source for a few metal treasures through every album. Game Over has the right spirit, spunk, and thunderous anthems that satisfy the original generation who grew up on this man, while giving hope to the younger metalheads that they can find favor in his latest work.