U.D.O. – DECADENT
RELEASED: February 3rd, 2015
I’ve mentioned in at least one past review my love of classic metal band Accept; how they’re arguably my second favourite classic metal band behind only Judas Priest. That band was of course once (actually three times) fronted by the short-yet-powerful Udo Dirkschneider. His unmistakeable voice is what made Accept’s classic metal hits like Balls To The Wall and Fast As A Shark nothing to sneeze at. For decades, however, he’s fronted his own band away from Accept, simply titled U.D.O. and has released a surprisingly large amount of albums with that band. His most recent recording, Decadent, drops in early 2015.
I’ll admit to only having listened to a few albums by U.D.O. 1997’s Solid is the only one that I actually own. U.D.O. has pretty much averaged an album every other year since its inception 28 years ago. However, if you’ve heard one U.D.O. album you’ve heard most of them. The song format has stayed pretty true to Accept, heavy metal with a touch of classical influence, only Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffman‘s classical guitar playing sounds much more genuine than the army of guitarists Udo Dirkschneider has hired and fired from U.D.O. over the years.
Decadent is no exception to all of this, as you’d hear on the album, the songs still follow that same larger than life classic metal sound with a surprisingly minimal amount of noticeable age added to Udo’s singing voice. All is apparent in opening track Speeder; a faster driving paced metal song. Andrey Smirnov and Kasperi Heikkinen, the guitarists playing for this go-round of U.D.O. do a fine job at keeping the U.D.O./Accept spirit alive with their unarguable professional guitar talent and they make the most of the opportunity they’ve been given, not just on this song but on the entire album.
The first few tracks of the album, for the most part, are a tad insignificant. I mean as I mentioned, if you heard one U.D.O. album you’ve heard them all. The title track has a maybe a hook or two that you can memorize and can stick in your head, but a song like House of Fake is not much more than another fast heavy song to listen to only when your music playlist is on shuffle, and Mystery is a song that I wouldn’t even find worth keeping on my music playlist beyond writing this review. It’s really just Udo growling into the mic while sounding like a deranged clown in between verses. That’s just about the entire song. It’s a failed attempt at trying to do something different.
A promotional video for the title track Decadent can be seen below and is worth giving a listen to.
My opinion of the album is changed entirely with the song Pain. By this point of Decadent it’s the most melodic song, and the first song where I feel any real effort was put in to anything other than the guitar playing. It starts a stream of better written and more well thought out tracks, and is immediately followed by a few soft-yet-dark song, similar to ones Udo has sung before with both U.D.O. and Accept. If you’ve listened to Accept songs like Can’t Stand The Night and Guardian of the Night (or an obscure one you may love called Writing On The Wall), then you’d enjoy Secrets In Paradise for the same reason. Udo uses his low singing voice to add to the feeling of the song before belting out his screams as the song picks up toward the end.
Even the remaining heavier balls to the wall (pun actually not intended, I swear) songs like Meaning of Life, Breathless, Under Your Skin, Untouchable and Rebels of the Night all sound a bit more rejuvenated compared to the earlier songs on Decadent. Each song sounds relatively different from one another, for instance Meaning of Life and Under Your Skin are the fast ones, Rebels of the Night is probably the hardest hitting of them while Breathless is what I find to be the most memorable of the bunch. Untouchable, unfortunately, falls a bit short in my mind. It feels as though it belongs with the insignificant tracks at the beginning of the album.
Decadent ends in epic proportions with the seven-and-a-half minute Words In Flame. It is how I’d expect an U.D.O. album to end, or any Udo Dirkschneider fronted album to end. Just look at albums such as Restless and Wild and Balls To The Wall, they all end with a track that was a little more significant than just another metal song. In this case, Words In Flame is a slow paced and well orchestrated tune, mixing slow melodies with heavy beats and enough changes to keep any metal fan interested throughout the entire song, including my favourite guitar solo on the album to cap it off.
I’ll say it again, if you’ve heard one U.D.O. album you’ve heard them all and Decadent is no exception. However, that only means Decadent won’t change the world of metal, which really doesn’t matter in the case of Udo Dirkschneider who already made his mark on heavy metal long ago. Even Accept with current singer Mark Tornillo haven’t tried to change metal with their last three albums. Udo is merely a man dedicated to heavy metal so much so that he doesn’t care to stop making music, and I’ll be damned to admit that most of Decadent is pretty enjoyable and completely worth the listen for existing fans, and I don’t even think the album would be a bad starting point for the odd listener who just so happens to stumble on to this album. Decadent starts of 2015 in metal strong.
“Pain” – It’s the true turning point of the album. The first sign that Udo can still make songs as well as he did 30 years ago, and yes I believe Pain is a song that can stand up with some of Accept‘s best songs. It’s undeniably heavy metal, but it is not just another song that was recorded for the sake of being a heavy metal song, as some of the songs to that point on Decadent were sounding.
Reviewed by Rock Review Phil
8 (Out of 10)
03: House Of Fake
06: Secrets In Paradise
07: Meaning Of Life
09: Under Your Skin
11: Rebels Of The Night
12: Words In Flame