U.D.O - 'Steelhammer'


THE BAND:
Udo Dirkschneider- Vocals

Fitty Wienhold - Bass

Andrey Smirnov - Guitars

Kasperi Heikkinen - Guitars

Francesco Jovino- Drums

 

 

 

 

 


TRACK FRAGMENTS:
1.) "Steelhammer" - This intro opens with a pick slide that leads into a simple yet mean rhythm guitar riff coming out of just the left speaker. After the first rhythm riff the second guitarist kicks-in coming out of the right speaker.  This rhythm riff with both guitarists really gave the guitar arrangements a huge sound.  After both guitarists play the rhythm riff twice one of them double-tracked several minor lead guitar solo licks.  Too me this was very reminiscent to the stuff  KK Downing and Glen Tipton (Judas Priest) done on Judas's 1990 'Painkiller' release.  It is at this time the drum and bass line kicks-in.  The drum line of the intro was very reminiscent to some of the stuff Scott Travis has played since joining Judas Priest.  There are several cymbal crashes connecting the musical intro with the musical verse.  The guitarists used the same rhythm for the musical verse as the one for the intro except underneath the vocal lines were they played half-notes.  At times for the drum line Francesco switches his right hand from the hi-hat to the crash cymbal.  There is a rhythm guitar change for the short chorus.  Underneath the first lyric line of the second verse one of the guitarist double-tracked several lead licks.  After the third chorus there is what sounded to be a twin lead guitar solo.   
2.) "A Cry Of Nations" - This intro opens with Francesco playing a sixteenth-note drum pattern.  At the end of the second measure there is a small drum fill.  After this drum fill for the third measure both guitarists kick-in playing two different rhythm arrangements.  When the guitars kick in Francesco switches his drum pattern from a sixteenth-note pattern to a standard 4/4 pattern.  It is also at this time he switches from the hi-hat to his ride cymbal.  There are three full tom-tom fills connecting the musical intro with the musical verse.  There is a rhythm guitar change for the musical verse this rhythm guitar change had a very simple feel to it.  For the musical verse Francesco not only switches time and begins playing a sixteenth-note hi-hat rhythm again he also opens and closes the hi-hat.  This gave the drum line a very nice groove.  There is a small snare fill connecting the musical verse with what you might as well call the second verse.  There is a small rhythm guitar change for the musical chorus.  Underneath the last lyric line of the musical chorus there is a lead guitar scale.  This scale lead to the lead guitar solo itself.  The lead guitar solo was very melodic which is something you don't hear much from the guitarists of U.D.O.  Before the second chorus there is a small musical rest.  Connecting the second and third chorus there is a second solo section both solos are minor solos.  After the third chorus there is a breakdown section that consisted of a spoken vocal.  This spoken vocal was of a TV reporter.  After the breakdown section there was a major lead guitar solo.  This major solo was done with Arabic scales which suited the song very well considering the lyrical content.  There was a rhythm change for the last chorus.  This rhythm guitar change was different than the other choruses.  There was a third minor solo over the top of the coda.  
3.) "Metal Machine" -This track opens with a heavily influenced modern Judas Priest intro section.  After two measures there was a small snare fill that lead to a musical rest.  After the musical rest there was a complete musical change for the major intro section.  The bass line of the major intro had a mean sound to it.  There was a rhythm guitar change for the musical pre-verse.  There was a second rhythm guitar change for the musical verse.  For the musical verse Francesco switches his hi-hat pattern to a sixteenth-note hi-hat pattern.  The chorus had a huge U.D.O. hook attached to it.  There is a lead guitar solo after the second chorus.  It sounded as if both guitarists play part of this solo section.  After the third chorus through coda the band speeds the beats per minute up leading into a second lead guitar solo   
4.) "Basta Ya" - Translated in English is "Enough Is Enough". 

  The song is performed in Spanish and is a call to arms against terrorism. Victor Garcia Gonzalez of Spain’s Warcry helps out on this track, and it’s a beast.
5.) "Heavy Rain" - Udo ballads are always good however this may rank up there as my favorite!
6.) "Devil's Bite" - This intro opens with a very strange keyboard effect.  As it progresses underneath it a tom-tom pattern and bass line lick-in.  When the guitar rhythm kicks-in the keyboard rhythm changes.  Though the keyboard is underneath the guitar in many it is the main instrumentation.  There is a rhythm guitar riff and tom-tom fill connecting the musical intro with the musical verse.  The rhythm guitar of the musical pre-verse was playing mainly fill-in rhythm chords.  The strange keyboard effect kicks back in at the end of the pre-verse.  There is a small musical rest connecting the pre-verse with the verse.  I believe the guys used the same rhythm for the verse as the one for the pre-verse.  There is a rhythm guitar change for the musical chorus.  Underneath Udo's vocals there are two different rhythm guitar riffs one atop of the other.  There is a small drum fill connecting the chorus with the second verse.  There is a twin lead guitar solo after the second chorus.  I could have done without the keyboard effect.
7.) "Death Ride" - Musically ear bleeding amazing!!!!  
8.) "King Of Mean" -This track opens with a short keyboard effect.  The main intro section consisted of a fairly basic U.D.O. style rhythm arrangement.  There are two different rhythm guitar arrangements for the musical verse.  Both guitarist switch to play the same rhythm for the chorus.  The choruses on this song were huge!  There is a minor lead guitar solo connecting the second and third chorus.  After the third chorus there is a breakdown section.  For the breakdown section the band drastically slowed the music rhythm down.  The breakdown section lead to the lead guitar solo section.  This solo was a minor lead guitar solo.  There was a second minor solo underneath the net chorus. 
9.) "Timekeeper" -This intro consisted of two different rhythm guitar arrangements.  There was a drum fill to connect the intro with the musical verse.  There was a rhythm guitar change for the musical verse.  Udo used a vocal effect for his vocals on this song.  he drops the vocal effect for the musical chorus.  In between the lyric lines of the second verse there is a small spoken vocal.  The second verse consisted of an acoustic guitar arrangement.  After the second chorus there was a huge drum fill that lead to the lead guitar solo.  The first part of this solo was one of the strangest I think I've ever heard. 
10,) "Never Cross My Way" - This was a great song!
11.) "Take My Medicine" - This was a fairly standard U.D.O. style song.
12.) "Stay True" -This track consisted of a very intense intro arrangement.  Udo sings several vocal accents over the top of the intro.  The drum line consisted of a double bass drum pattern.  There was a rhythm guitar change between the musical intro and the musical verse.  The first part of the chorus consisted of a rhythm guitar arrangement underneath a lead guitar solo type rhythm.  The lead guitar solo is after the second chorus and consisted of both guitarist doing a solo then a twin solo.  This guitar solo was the best one on the CD!!!
13.) "When Love Becomes A Lie" - Another masterpiece by the legend!!!!
14.) "Book Of Faith" - Though this may through some fans off musically it is a great song!


     'Steelhammer' is the fourteenth CD Udo Dirkschneider has release under the moniker of U.D.O. since leaving the band he co-founded with Michael Wagner, Accept. For the fans who have been complaining about the sound and direction of U.D.O.'s past few studio albums.  Well he corrected that by hiring twin lead guitarists Kasperi Heikknen and Andrey Smirnov who took a steel hammer and smashed right through U.D.O.'s critics!
     The songs on 'Steelhammer' are very reminiscent to early U.D.O and the Judas Priest release titled, 'Painkiller' which, should make all of his critics over the last few years shut their mouth.  If not then they should be hit with a 'Steelhammer'!
     Though there are minor aspects of some songs I could have done without.  I'm not about to nit-pick a great CD!  If you're into early U.D.O or good solid heavy metal then you must buy this CD!!!!