U.D.O. - Steelfactory

U.D.O. Steelfactory cover
AFM Records
You have to give it to Udo, at sixty six, he still wants to rock out, undertaking long tours and putting albums regularly, even at a time when half of his band’s line up got retired, during the long winding Dirkschneider tour (according to the press releases, allegedly his last time performing Accept material…) with new blood rejuvenating the band; “Steelfactory” is brimming with excitement, however it seems to be sometimes awfully close to the Accept blueprints of certain past hits…
Sure “Tongue Reaper” is a typical post millennial UDO hit, but as soon as follow-up “Make the Move” steps through the door, you can’t help but notice how similar it’s riff and drum beat is to “Living for Tonight”…
“Keeper of My Soul” is actually a pretty interesting and heavy, mid-tempo tune that has a quite eastern atmosphere and all the typical traits that make UDO great.
“In the Heat of the Night” is more melodic, with Udo trying to do all the vocals himself. Sometimes that did work to great effect, when Peter Baltes would do that with his nice, melodic voice in Accept. Here it works well enough, but sometimes when a third voice is introduced, the mix gets a bit confusing and I guess the song would have been just as effective, if it omitted most of Udo really “low” parts. Its solo is pretty spectacular too.
“Raise the Game” is heavy in a balls out way, but is somewhat unimaginable with the lyrics and melodies and Udos semi-spoken parts, don’t work that well, unlike some guitar licks that actually do.
“Blood on Fire” is different, more experimental, quite moody, with Udo trying out a bizarre troubadour-y sort of lower register, against his usual harsher mid highs.  It makes for a pretty interesting result.
“Rising High” is the bastard child of “Breaker” and “Aiming High” and this over-reliance in former glories, is somehow a little disappointing... when both parties seem to suffer because of the “divorce” with now the two camps – down to an original member each… maybe just maybe it’s time for both to wave a flag of truce.
“Hungry and Angry” doesn’t try to hide either its balls-y roots or its cliché ridden verses source, but it does somehow grow tiresome after a bit.
“One Heart, One Soul” despite opening with a lick that’s very Hoffman-ish, sees Udo managing to keep it building up nicely to antagonize Accept’s better moments, without having to rely on old melodies or references to the past. Genuinely impressive with a nice bunch of soloing thrown in there for good measure.
“A Bite of Evil” is a vampyric tale (?) that’s actually quite a nice song overall, but suffers a bit from Udo’s spoken parts being a little too sneery.
“Eraser” is a pedal to the metal, think about it later sort of double bass number, that’s what the doctor might have ordered, at this point. It’s not out of this world good, but does indeed inject the album with some much needed adrenaline.
“Rose in the Desert” is a quite more melodic mid-tempo, with a somewhat more contemporary (if such a term is applicable for UDO) sound, that’s however totally within the confines of their style.
Finally, “The Way” seems to be a great, semi-biographic half ballad that concludes the album in a very nice manner.
While it would be easy to take an easy shot at the “general” for you know, pilfering a bit of Accept here and there (whose legacy however he totally helped to forge), there’s quite a bit to enjoy on “Steelfactory”, making it one of the most solid releases of the German bulldog, this side of the millennium. With all the dear departed stars of our youth, slowly lighting up the sky, long life to the man and hopefully some more metal from him before he hangs it up – if he ever does, since not even a bad knee seems able to keep him from touring this one!