February 3, 2015
Udo Dirkschneider is the Woody Guthrie of metal. He put your 'Balls To The Wall' back in 1984 with Accept, and he never came back - ever since, it's been Udo against evil, and it's only a shame that most aren't paying more attention.
If they were, they'd notice that the guy can't put out a bad record. His albums are heavy, they're musically nutritious, his rhythm section is never less powerful than a carrier, and the man himself is still perfecting his guttural, yet beautiful sound. It's the sound of righteous indignation. Metal Heart, indeed.
Decadent is U.D.O.'s fifteenth studio album, and it's a strong one. The band is writing the music as a team, and the lyrical content is being handled by Udo and his longtime right hand man, Fitty Wienhold, who also provides some of the tastiest and best toned bass work around to the festivities. But, this is metal, and it's down to the riff isn't it? Well, Dirkschneider did a brilliant bit of recruiting and he came up with two winners in the writing, riffing, and solo departments in Andrey Smirnov, and Kasperi Heikkinen for his guitar team. You could even throw any track on Decadent onto a classic Accept album, and not much would seem tremendously off kilter.
That's not to say, however, that this iteration doesn't have its own flavor. In fact, this young pair of guitarists provide an aural history lesson in the art of distorted guitar riffing on this record. The riff of the title tune is brontosaurus sized, and the underlying layers of six string wizardry are sublime. Highly pinched, filtered leads and sequels show themselves at all the right times, and Wienhold's outrageously righteous bass work makes you feel right at home in a brand new joint. The breakdown section features a horrifyingly honest and perceptive spoken view of what's really going on, and the solo that follows is what I always wanted to hear tone-wise from metal bands in the eighties, but seldom found. The tones are wonderfully glassy and sharp, but still corpulent and round. You're going to love this one.
'Speeder' is the opener, and it smokes. Fast as a shark, and pointed as a bullet, it's tight, tough, and melodic. After the first chorus there's a great harmonized sub-section that leads straight into a nice, nice solo the contains exactly what it should. Classic metal 101.
More of the same never felt so good, but then on the fourth track things take a diabolical turn on 'Mystery'. This is a metallic/psychedelic mashup of clown sounds, seriously great guitars, and throbbing rhythms that go places you wouldn't expect, but will love. Almost a bit of a very disturbed and dark Les Claypool/Primus vibe to it. I want to see the movie to this soundtrack.
'Pain' is one of those great metal sounds - very melodic and poppy, not unlike what Schenker was writing back in his days with Mr. McAuley, but of course, Udo and Fitty make sure to purify its metal content. Just a very compelling melody, and the rhythm guitars even borrow a bit from Ratt's best days. Yeah, very melodic pop metal, and it's brilliant.
Then it gets even prettier with 'Secrets In Paradise'. A heartfelt ballad that has its heavy moments, but it's another of the master's best tricks. He draws you in, then blows you out, and the real power is in his very simple honesty. Great acoustic guitars, great electric guitars, and a big boatload of f.u.n. from U.D.O.
This is a great ride from beginning to end - nothing that is unrecognizable, and awful lot to love. It's great to have truly classic metal all stars such as Judas Priest and U.D.O (and for that matter, Accept) still doing what they do best with enough new twists to keeps us on the edge of our seats, and remembering why and how we all got here.
Hats off to Udo Dirkschneider for keeping this ship afloat, and at chasing down the bad guys for another great record's worth. Now let's bring this ship back to the States for some fun, what do you say?