U.D.O. is back! The diminutive Teutonic terror who’s gravelly cackle defined the sound of Accept for decades has resurfaced with yet another solo album (his thirteenth!). This time out however, he does so in the very large shadow cast by his former unit’s 2010 release Blood of Nations. That opus was a classic metal monster and ended up near the top of my best of 2010 list. Since Rev-Raptor will inevitably be seen by many as Udo Dirkschneider’s return salvo, the obvious question becomes, how does it measure up? Well, in all fairness, Mr. Udo has released far more records under the U.D.O. moniker than he ever released with Accept. That said, he’s still famous as the “voice” of Accept so the comparison is to be expected. In short, no, this isn’t on par with Blood of Nations, but its still a solid traditional metal album with some entertaining numbers that will make you bang your head the old fashioned way. If you’ve heard any of the prior U.D.O. albums, you know what to expect here since there’s been scarce variation across his long and storied discography. Its raucous 80’s style classic metal, much like classic Accept, with few frills but plenty of balls (to the wall) and the man’s trademark screech. If that sounds good to you, read on (AMG has already left the building and set it on fire).
Lead track “Rev-Raptor” is one of the album highlights and has a huge, crunchy main riff and a full throttle approach that perfectly compliments Udo’s famous snarl. He sounds nasty and venomous and its a very good classic metal ditty. Follow ups “Leatherhead” and “Renegade” keep the heaviness going with simple but heavy riffing and catchy choruses and “Renegade” even evokes recent Grave Digger with the extra heavy guitar tone. Later, we get to see the more sensitive side of the Udo with “I Give as Good as I Get” which is essentially a power ballad. Although the softer numbers like this were never Udo’s forte given his limited vocal range, this has a certain, boozy barroom charm and it works well. Other standouts include the testosterone filled stomper “Terrorvision” (which gets extra Angry Metal Points for the line “cyber-kinetic fuck machines”) and the classic 80’s flavor of “Underworld” which could have been on a 86′-88′ Ozzy album. Sadly, there are a few cheeseball numbers (Dr. Death” and “Rock n Roll Soldiers”) and some are decent but on the bland side (“True Born Winners”). That inconsistency drags the album down a few notches.
Besides Udo, who is in fine form throughout Rev-Raptor, the guitar tandem of Stefan Kaufmann and Igor Gianola acquit themselves well with a collection of simple, heavy but effectively memorable metal riffs straight out of the 80’s. They also uncork a few exceptional solos here and there (“Terrorvision,” “Underworld”). The production is big and loud and at times even gives the music a Rammstein/industrial quality which beefs up the heaviness factor. However, a nagging problem across the album are the lyrics, which range from cliche to cringe inducing. Not every metal song needs poetic and profound lyrics but there’s a point where they get so childish here it verges on laughable and it doesn’t help things.
Maybe U.D.O. lost out to Accept for best recent album, but if you enjoyed any of U.D.O.s prior works or traditional 80’s metal, there’s likely to be some entertainment value for you. He doesn’t stray far from his stylistic wheelhouse, but why should he? He’s a metal institution famous for exactly this style of music so why fuck with the winning formula? If the song level remained as solid as on the first four tracks, this would bump up closer to 4.0 but too much cheese contaminates the later proceedings. Still, its not bad and the guy deserves respect for his commitment to all things metal. Cheers, you little rock dynamo!