U.D.O. – Dominator (2009, AFM Records)
- The Bogeyman
- Black And White
- Heavy Metal Heaven
- Doom Ride
- Stillness Of Time
- Devil’s Rendezvous
- Speed Demon
- Whispers In The Dark
(NOTE — This is the U.S. release. The European digipak has a bonus track titled ‘Pleasure In The Darkroom’ and the Japanese version has a bonus track titled ‘Bleeding Heart’)
Udo Dirkschneider – Vocals
Stefan Kaufmann – Guitars
Igor Gianola – Guitars
Fitty Wienhold – Bass
Francesco Jovino – Drums
Producer: Stefan Kaufmann
Total Time = 44:48
Doesn’t it seem like there is a new U.D.O. album every year? It just seems like the band puts out record after solid record and there is never a break! Looking back at all the U.D.O. studio album, DOMINATOR is the band’s 12th studio album and, if you count live albums, their 15th. I could add in all the E.P.s with the excusive tracks but that would get a bit too much. One thing is certain: U.D.O. releases new material consistently and it’s always very good. I have to give Udo Dirkschneider a lot of credit for carrying on the Metal tradition he helped start with Accept back in 1979. His voice was an integral, and unique, part of Accept’s Traditional Metal sound and he has kept that sound alive with U.D.O. There are a lot of metalheads out there that would love to see Accept reunite (again) but U.D.O. is the natural continuation. Like I mentioned, the U.D.O. sound is the same as the Accept sound so, if you know Accept, then you basically know U.D.O. This new album picks up right where 2007’s MASTERCUTOR left off by providing pure heavy Metal of the highest order full of melody, thunderous metallic riffs, and Udo’s unmistakeable growl…..all in trademark German Metal style. If the formula ain’t broke, why fix it? U.D.O. has been giving us the same kind of Metal since 1988’s ANIMAL HOUSE!
DOMINATOR starts out with a short subdued piano intro to ‘The Bogeyman’ but it quickly kicks into the main riff and Udo’s grating vocals. I like the fact that Udo does his own backing vocals because it adds a bit more range when he puts his own scream vocal over his regular growl. ‘The Bogeyman’ doesn’t really surprise, it’s the same traditional style the band usually goes for but the chorus cauhgt me and had me singing along. Another thing U.D.O. does well: they put in enough hooks to grab the listener. The title track is definitely faster than ‘The Bogeyman’ with a more focused twin guitar attack and rhythm. Again, there really isn’t much difference here from other U.D.O. material but the simplicity and straightforward delivery is what makes this so good! It’s kind of like being an AC/DC fan! I like the lower vocal on the chorus (with me singing along again) and the guitars are blazing…..the solo trade-off between Stefan Kaufmann and Igor Gianola are awesome!
What to hear a trademark Accept style “balls to the wall” style riff? Listen to the opening of ‘Black & White’. Heavy but slower than the first two songs with that cool Udo drawl over subdued guitars before everything kicks into high gear. The only problem with this song is the repetitve chorus, I would have liked and different line or two. I did detect a melodic Scorpions-like quality to the guitar solo…..definitely a Teutonic Metal flavor. I know ‘Infected’ from the INFECTED E.P. (2009) that preceded DOMINATOR, the song is a speedy metal attack that sounds like METAL HEART (1985) era Accept. Listen to that pounding drum sound too, Francesco Jovino and Fitty Weinhold (bass) keep everything heavy. One thing you will always find on an U.D.O. album is one of those Manowar-esque “we love Heavy Metal” sounding songs…..that’s ‘Heavy Metal Heaven’. It’s a heavy mid-tempo track with melodic guitars and a gang chorus that really sticks in your head. A bit simple though but I could see this song getting played live to get the crowd involved in a sing-a-long. Moving along for a ‘Doom Ride’, the band uses another Accept styled riff for another heavy tune that gets the headbanging right away, the only drawback being the overly simple chorus.
You could probably call ‘Stillness Of Time’ the album’s ballad but it’s more of a guitar driven mid-tempo than pure ballad. It’s a melodic song and Udo sings in a very subdued melodic style. It’s hard to really call this a ballad but the opening piano, keyboard textures and pace of the song really grab hold. It’s definitely the most commercial song on the record, dare I say “radio-friendly”, with an ’80s Whitesnake style. I like the song, it’s something different among the straight forward Metal assault. U.D.O. always has a novelty song on their albums and ‘Devil’s Rendezvous’ sounds like something off Queen’s A NIGHT AT THE OPERA but metallic…..I keep thinking of ‘Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon’ and Freddie Mercury camping it up! Can you imagine Udo camping it up. The song is like a metallic showtune…..a throwaway for me. Things get back on track with the heavy as hell, pedal to the metal ‘Speed Demon’. Traditional Power Metal with blazing guitars, change vocalists and this could be a Primal Fear, Judas Priest or Hammerfall song…..the deulling guitars on this track are worth the price of the CD! The last song on DOMINATOR is ‘Whispers In the Dark’ and it starts with that ballad feel like ‘Stillness Of Time’ does. The song opens with a soft piano, melodic singing from Udo with soft background vocals and acoustics. Then the electric guitars kick in to bolster the sound but the song still has that sense of balladry…..I would call this a ballad more than I would ‘Stillness Of Time’. An odd way to close a heavy album.
You can always count on U.D.O. to deliver the goods and the band does it again with DOMINATOR. It’s another solid album in a long line of solid records made in the same style…..Udo Dirkschneider has been doing this for 30 years and he has stayed true to his sound. That’s what I like most about U.D.O., and DOMINATOR: you know exactly what you are going to get and the music is expertly done with high quality musicianship and songwriting. If you want solid Traditional Metal then this is the album to pick up. I followed Udo after the Accept breakup and I have been an U.D.O. fan since 1988, I always look forward to a new U.D.O. album and I rarely get disappointed. My only complaint is with the album cover (it’s terrible!) and the bonus tracks for Japan and Europe. Usually U.D.O. will include these bonus tracks on a preceding E.P. to give all the fans a chance to hear them. My copy is the U.S. version: no bonuses. No matter, DOMINATOR is easily one of my favorite releases this year.
‘The Bogeyman’, ‘Speed Demon’, ‘Stillness Of Time’, ‘Infected’, ‘Heavy Metal Heaven’