U.D.O. – “LEATHERHEAD E.P”

U.D.O. – “LEATHERHEAD E.P”
AFM RECORDS (2011)

Metal Church - The Present Wasteland

Udo Dirkchneider is a man that needs no lengthy introductions, if you have not found yourself navigating the pages of this site by accident, that is. Having been the frontman of the mighty Heavy Metal pioneers Accept for what has been generally described as the classic period of their career, this German, small of stature, but boasting a powerful and unmistakably characteristic voice, started carving his own musical path through the moniker U.D.O. with which he is soon to release his thirteenth studio album entitled “Rev-Raptor”. Prior to that, though, and in a typical U.D.O. fashion, the Solingen-based frontman is preparing the ground for us through a four track E.P, entitled “Leatherhead”, which has managed to impress me from the very first spin.

Udo’s approach to Heavy Metal has never been too remote from that of the mighty Accept, something that makes absolute sense considering that a) as a co-founder and their frontman for many years, he is responsible for having established their sound and b) his personal moniker features in its ranks ex-Accept drummer-turned-guitarist Stefan Kaufmann. What Udo has ensured however, and much to his credit for that matter, is that there is a modern touch to his Metal – one that speaks to a contemporary audience, but also keeps the old-school fans of the band happy. This is exactly the kind of attitude that is responsible for the creation of this four track E.P – a release that ought to keep our appetite under control while “Rev-Raptor” is going through its finishing touches.

The first song of this short musical encounter is the four minute same-titled opus “Leatherhead”. Moving at a mid tempo pace and based on a pretty straight-forward riff, the composition allows enough space for Udo to dominate the proceedings and remind us through an array of single and multi-layered vocal passages why he is rightfully considered among the legends of Metal; Stefan Kaufmann’s guitars lean towards the modern through an interesting and somewhat electronic sound. “Rock N’Roll Soldiers” is another typical Udo song whose main feature, apart from Udo’s leading vocals of course, is Kaufmann’s lead guitar harmonies which add much atmosphere to this simply-crafted composition. Every U.D.O. release features an anthemic pompous composition, right? Well, in this case, such a role has been granted to “Free Of Rebellion” – a composition whose main rhythmical pattern is terribly reminiscent of that of Accept’s classic “London Leatherboys” (see “Balls To The Wall” 1983). The one song that really touched me is the piano ballad “Run!” – a song which combines great emotional passages with Stefan’s simple but really heartfelt guitar solos.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is it – yet another U.D.O. E.P. Some people might think that in the year 2011, with the Internet as the main avenue for promotion, E.P.s ought to be a dying breed, however, based on what we are presented with here, you might want to re-consider. If the four tracks that put together “Leatherhead” are even remotely indicative of what Udo’s next studio release is going to be like, then we are all in for a treat! A friend of mine once said about classic Heavy Metal that “all the good riffs have already been written and performed”, to which my current response would be “nonsense – have you listened to the new U.D.O. E.P yet”? I cannot wait for the new album to come out!

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)


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