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UFO - "The Visitor" (CD)

UFO - "The Visitor" CD cover image

"The Visitor" track listing:

1. Saving Me (5:08)
2. On The Waterfront (3:50)
3. Hell Driver (4:28)
4. Stop Breaking Down (4:56)
5. Rock Ready (3:07)
6. Living Proof (4:33)
7. Can't Buy A Thrill (5:14)
8. Forsaken (3:57)
9. Villains & Thieves (3:35)
10. Stranger In Town (3:38)

Reviewed by on August 1, 2009

"Chances are if you’re under thirty, 'The Visitor' isn’t a CD you’ll be interested in."

UFO is a band that many readers under thirty likely have never heard of. Yet their mark on heavy metal has spanned a generation, and influenced great bands like Megadeth, Iron Maiden, and many other mainstays of the metal scene. Formed in 1969, UFO was part of the New Wave of Heavy Metal, and enjoyed solid, though not stellar, chart performance with several hits during the 1980’s.

After enduring a swinging door of band members, and a hiatus, UFO came back onto the scene in 2006, and just recently released another new album, "The Visitor," which offers the same trademark bluesy, gritty hard rock sound UFO has been playing for nearly forty years.

Having said all that, chances are if you’re under thirty, "The Visitor" isn’t a CD you’ll be interested in. Even though this bluesy music can be heard outside any of a dozen hot spots in New Orleans, and enjoyed a bit of a resurgence thanks to the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou," delta blues, even tinged with hard rock, just plain isn’t that popular anymore. Sure, songs like the opening "Saving Me" are good quality acoustic guitar and harmonica tracks, but the absence of any musical style more recent than thrash is very apparent.

This isn’t to say all UFO does is blues, but even the heavier tracks like "Hell Driver" sound a bit too much like early 80’s Van Halen. And probably the best track, "Villains & Thieves," is a mix of two equally outdated sounds of ZZ Top southern rock and Jerry Lee Lewis piano. Still, it’s a fun song, and those who like upbeat tunes will find themselves really enjoying this one.

The rest of the album is pretty much the same pattern, with the exception of a 70’s style acid rock synth in the closer "Stranger In Town," and a slight Foreigner sound to Phil Mogg’s vocals on "Stop Breaking Down." Unfortunately, Mogg’s voice is so flat on the repetitive line of the chorus that by the end, it becomes just plain painful.

For established, mature UFO fans, "The Visitor" is a comfortable album that resurrects the band’s classic style. But for those who grew up on heavier sounds, and have no interest in taking a stroll back in time to the days of open stringed acoustic guitars and harmonicas being played on a rickety old porch somewhere in the Mississippi Delta, UFO’s music sounds old and tired.

Highs: "Villains & Thieves" is a fun tune that mixes sleazy southern rock with great balls of fire style piano.

Lows: Moggs’ vocals on "Stop Breaking Down" are painfully flat.

Bottom line: If you like delta blues and southern hard rock, this album is probably right up your alley. If you’re looking for something heavier, better keep on looking.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)