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Another solid UDO album which is sure to please - 80%

TrooperOfSteel, April 30th, 2012

You cannot be considered a true metalhead if you have not heard of one of the legends of heavy metal, Mr. Udo Dirkschneider. Udo created the metal band Accept way back in 1971, although the band did not release their first album until 1979. Having major success and also one of the bands to influence the metal scene in the early 80’s, especially with the breakthrough album ‘Balls to the Wall’, the band would eventually encounter differences and went on hiatus in 1987. The band would recruit a new singer and release an album in 1989, but after more problems during the tour of the album in ’89, Accept would call it quits.

Udo Dirkschneider pursued his solo career after the hiatus of Accept and formed his own band called U.D.O. Then from 1988 to 1991, the band released 4 albums. After the release of the 4th album, Udo reunited with his Accept band mates and after several discussions, reformed the great band. Accept would release 3 albums in 1993, ’94 and ’96 before once again the band was put on hiatus and Dirkschneider returned to U.D.O.

Since 1997, U.D.O has released 8 full-length albums, including their latest effort released in August 2009 entitled ‘Dominator’. The band gave the fans a taste of ‘Dominator’, by releasing an EP earlier in June called ‘Infected’. The EP contained one track from the upcoming album, one live track, one remixed track and 2 new tracks that will not be on the ‘Dominator’ release. U.D.O.’s sound is basically a continuation from Accept’s heavy metal sound, which is pretty much no gimmicks, just straightforward typical heavy metal; although U.D.O. also has an 80’s/90’s heavy metal influence.

2005’s ‘Mission No. X’ and 2007’s ‘Mastercutor’ were both top quality albums, a return to form you might say for U.D.O, after the somewhat average ‘Rollerball’ and ‘Man and Machine’ in 2004 and 2002 respectively. So how will the new ‘Dominator’ album fit into the successful career for Udo and his band? Read on.

The album kicks off with “The Bogeyman”, which is easily one of the best tracks on the CD. After a short eerie intro, the main riff from guitarist Stefan Kaufmann hits you and hits hard. Fist pumping begins instantly from this riff and the track continues with highlights including the top-notch chorus and solo. Most impressive is that the 57 year old Udo Dirkschneider can still belt out his trademark grating wails with the best of them, showing no sings of slowing down. After the next two songs we get to “Infected”, which is another very good track. Being quite speedy, the song races along driven by the guitars. With another top solo to boot “Infected” is a sure winner. A heavy metal hymn comes fourth in the next track, entitled “Heavy Metal Heaven”. In a song that would excel live, the sing-along chorus is quite cheesy but still good.

“Doom Ride” is another great track, which rings out classic U.D.O. With a chugging head-banging riff and heavy bass, the song pounds along with Dirkschneider commanding at the helm. Following “Doom Ride” is a very nice rock ballad entitled “Stillness of Time”. Udo does his best to sound emotional in the track, but it is his band members who make this song a good one. Excellent guitaring from both Stefan Kaufmann and Igor Gianola saves this ballad from getting the thumbs down.
The CD finishes with the last two tracks, “Speed Demon” and “Whispers in the Dark”. “Speed Demon” is an awesome track, one of the best on the album, containing another memorable hard ‘n’ fast riff in which Kaufmann and Gianola go all out in. A song combining heavy metal and hotted up racing cars is always a sure fire winner in the metal community. “Whispers in the Dark” is another emotional ballad, with the first half of the song containing just Udo, a piano and an acoustic guitar. The track lifts a few notches in the second half when it becomes more of a rock ballad, incorporating the drums, bass and guitars. The end result is quite good and an excellent way to finish the album.

Overall, ‘Dominator’ is a typical U.D.O. release, on par with their previous two albums. Lyrics may have been a slight weakness for U.D.O over the years, but when it’s this type of heavy metal, the lyrics really don’t mean shit. With a mix of guitar fuelled energetic standout tracks and a few average ones as well, the album is ultimately quite solid and it should have no problems at all pleasing both the U.D.O. fans and fans of traditional 80’s style heavy metal.

Originally written for

U.D.O. - Dominator - 75%

ThrashManiacAYD, October 21st, 2009

And so swiftly following on from June's EP, Infected, here is "Dominator", rounding out the nice double-header of classic German heavy/speed metal courtesy of U.D.O., the home of ex-Accept frontman Udo Dirkschneider. "Dominator" is the impressive 12th studio album of Udo's solo band, which has predictably been through it's fair share of line-up changes since forming after his split from Accept in 1987 and with this amount of experience between them (or him?) it is not surprising the end result is a more than solid dose of good ol' heavy metal.

The first thing to hit you in listening to "Dominator" is the strange guitar tone used in the recording, which is high on reverb and has a slight industrial edge to it. I must admit that over a greater time than I've had in which to write this review it might start to make a bit more sense to me, but at this current stage having given a few listens to both this and the EP it's not a sound that I'm loving. But heck, I'm not going to argue with the ex-singer of Accept! The second point of note that will be picked up on a whole listen to the album is the selection of brilliant chorus and melodic sing-along sections that could only be the work of someone so experienced in this world. Listening to Udo belt out great vocal lines like in "Heavy Metal Heaven", "Speed Demon" and "Black And White" its no surprise just how popular this kind of music once was, and still is, with music so excellently written.

Throughout the album U.D.O. make a good fist of fighting many of the complaints I, fellow writers, and knowledgeable fans of the power/speed/heavy metal have with such albums. The album flows coherently without ever feeling like the band are just repeating the same tune over and over and despite my gripe with the guitar sound, all instruments possess adequate power and metallic weight, a factor that staggeringly many bands fail to take into account. Bands of a similar ilk should be pretty obvious to anyone who knows Accept and their NWOBHM playing cousins but word must go out to the similarities "Heavy Metal Heaven" has to Manowar's "Warriors Of The World United" (it also being a song title that would fit right at home on a Manowar album) and being the huge Manowarrior that I am, it is a point I am most pleased to make.

The folkier songs witnessed on the "Infected" EP are not to be found here, which given how surprised I was in U.D.O. striking out to at the time, has got to be a good thing for the sake of the album's continuity. By the time the only slow and ballad-like song on the album, "Whispers In The Dark" closes out the album, the feeling is of a job well done; well done in the context of comparisons against the garbage that is most German heavy metal records of recent years. In the minds of many however, including myself, the current line-up of Accept doing the rounds without Udo at the helm is not the real Accept, and so the sooner the two parties get back together the sooner I can forgive myself for not watching them at Wacken a few years ago when I had the chance. If such an event doesn't happen, then "Dominator" will do fine to meet my current fix of Mr. Dirkschneider.

Originally written for

Fist shaking anthems from the elder statesman - 80%

autothrall, August 28th, 2009

I have a lot of passion for Udo Dirkschneider. He is truly one of the elder statesmen of metal music today, and his commitment and ability to release album after album of consistent, catchy material is rare for someone so far into his career. That he manages to stay completely true to his roots in the legendary Accept is nothing shy of a miracle. His grating, air raid siren vocals have not grown tired after all these years, and let's face it, he is one of the very CREATORS of power metal. So much of it is molded in his image, and so much fails to live up to it.

None of this can excuse the horrible choice of cover art for this album. It is truly awful to behold, and worthy of a mass recall (and at least one termination of employment). But albums are fortunately more than just their cover art, and after a few listens, Dominator, his 12th solo album, does deliver. It picks up right where Mastercutor left off, and while it doesn't reach the height of that album, it features at least a half dozen excellent tracks. You will immediately recognize the mid paced hard rocking of "Dominator", "Infected" and "Speed Demon", they all sound like German Power Metal 101: The Accept Strain. But these are surprisingly not the strongest moments of the album. The throbbing, fist pumping "Black and White" revels in its true Priest-like glory. "Heavy Metal Heaven" opens with an excellent percussive section, I simply melt when I think how amazing this song would be at some outdoors arena festival. "Doom Ride" and "Stillness of Time" are glorious, the latter again a fist shaking anthem with lighter accompaniment. "Devil's Rendezvous" straddles the line between blues, power metal and polka folk, quite a unique song for U.D.O., and fun.

As usual, the man's voice sounds amazing. It has lost none of luster, though few of the songs have him wailing at full power. As usual, the lineup features veterans and rockers from the European scene, including Stefan Kaufmann (Accept) on guitar. The mix is clean and top flight. Like any U.D.O. album, the appeal will be limited for spastic youths hellbent on noodly power metal like Dragonforce or Rhapsody. But if you enjoy the pure strain of German perfection, as only bands like Accept, Grave Digger, Primal Fear, Helloween, Blind Guardian, Rage and UDO have delivered these many'll fit right in. It's not one of his best records ever, but it has enough good moments to keep me entertained until the next. Just don't look at the cover.