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U.D.O. - "Decadent" (CD)

U.D.O. - "Decadent" CD cover image

"Decadent" track listing:

1. Speeder
2. Decadent
3. House of Fake
4. Mystery
5. Pain
6. Secrets in Paradise
7. Meaning of Life
8. Breathless
9. Under Your Skin
10. Untouchable
11. Rebels of the Night
12. Words in Flame

Reviewed by on January 12, 2015

"'Decadent' presents a greater concentration on complete and continuous song structure rather than just sticking a cool riff in front of an otherwise mediocre setting."

When U.D.O. released “Steelhammer” in 2013, it was a rebirth of sorts for former Accept vocalist Udo Dirkschneider. With no disrespect towards any album released, U.D.O. had grown just a bit stagnant with “Rev-Raptor” and “Dominator.” The antidote is now presented in the new guitar attack of Kasperi Heikkinen and Andrew Smirnov, along with a renewed sense of songwriting and blistering perfect production. Any fan that foolishly takes sides in the Udo vs. Accept argument need only remember that prior to the release of “Eat the Heat,” the band had written a follow up to “Russian Roulette” that would eventually become the U.D.O. debut “Animal House.” It was supposed to be Udo carrying the torch of the classic sound of Accept. Petty squabbles aside, you won’t hear this author and fan complaining about simultaneous semi-annual classics! The silent one-upmanship keeps both on their games and the victor is the listener. As for “Decadent,” the depths of Udo’s god-like status have only deepened.

With the songwriting rebirth on “Steelhammer” for tracks like “Basta Ya,” “When Love Becomes a Lie” and “Book of Faith,” the material on “Decadent” presents a greater concentration on complete and continuous song structure rather than just sticking a cool riff in front of an otherwise mediocre setting. Riffs have never been U.D.O.’s problem, it was using them to prop lifeless songs. This was my main issue with the albums immediately preceding “Steelhammer.” In stark contrast, there is such rich depth in tracks like “Mystery,” “Pain,” “Untouchable” and “Words in Flame,” much more than just a fetching guitar chord. There are heaps of melody and well structured bridges to balance the catchy riff and big chorus deliveries. Quite honestly, Udo’s vocals have never sounded more diverse and youthful. A real fan really couldn’t ask for more.

For those seeking the faster paced U.D.O. style, check out the opening “Speeder,” followed up by the ridiculously catchy “Decadent” and further followed up by the bursting “House of Fake.” The opening salvo is a metal assault. Combine those with “Under Your Skin” (with its “Fast As a Shark”-esque gallop) and those would have represented the typical anchor songs on albums like “Rev-Raptor” and “Dominator.” Now with the combination of wide open songwriting and a dynamic and electric guitar duo enhanced by pristine production (with mighty Jacob Hansen mastering), the material is more diverse by a lineup that is far and away the best Udo has assembled. “Secrets in Paradise,” with its acoustic setup to a bombastic chorus and the epic ending track “Words in Flame” are perfect examples of just how diverse.

Some of the album’s more interesting little moments center around those times Udo decides to stray a bit from his patented gritty shrill. Examples include the bridge parts in “Mystery” sandwiched in between seriously potent riff laden verses, the little sigh of irony in “Breathless” at 4:24 and the hysterical (and indescribably beautiful) part in “Pain” where Dirkschneider soulfully emotes “Try eating some of your own shit for once, ‘cause I’m not taking it anymore” at 4:14.

“Decadent” is another step up in what is a new and more diverse era for the German metal legend. The band is younger, better, and the performance of the man himself is invigorated. The great riffs - always a staple - are no longer just a crutch, but stand like a flag bearer in front of a well trained army. With Udo himself showing no signs of slowing, I can safely expect many more albums before all is said and done...and there is nothing decadent about that.

Highs: Songwriting is more diverse, riffs not the sole standout.

Lows: If power metal turns you off, steer clear.

Bottom line: With its best lineup yet and more diverse songwriting, "Decadent" shines brighter than a smile of gold teeth!

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)