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Sunday, June 05, 2011

Album Review: U.D.O. - Rev-Raptor

U.D.O. - Rev-Raptor
2011 AFM Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



You had to know Udo Dirkschneider was on his way with a new album. As much as the Udo-less Accept turned out to be the feelgood metal story of 2010 with Blood of the Nations, an answer from Dirkschneider was just about obligatory.

While the new incarnation of Accept fronted by Mark Tornillo has defied the odds with a new voice and broader-scoped songwriting, it's U.D.O. that keeps the throttle forward on its bread 'n butter power metal drive that has marked early Accept releases and every one of Udo Dirkschneider's solo efforts.

Along with fellow Accept escapee Stefan Kaufmann, U.D.O. is never going to pull the wool over your eyes. No false advertising, no shams. What you see is what you get. What you hear is what you hear. If you don't know what Udo and his steel posse are offering, seriously, get out from under the boulder, huh? Though 2007's Mastercutor might have a hair more swerve than the rest of Dirkschneider and Kaufmann's joint ventures, there should be absolutely no surprises coming to the table with this year's offering, Rev-Raptor.

Sometimes as silly as the album's title itself, Rev-Raptor nonetheless sticks to the script, mingling brisk and muscular thunder rock with borderline drippy power ballads. If Dirkschneider's critics at this point want him to compete against his former comrades, he's not taking the bait. "Renegade," "Rev-Raptor," "Leatherhead," "Dr. Death," "True Born Winners," "Terrorvision" and "Motor-Borg" are all unapologetically loud and nutty, serving only the band and U.D.O.'s loyal allegiance that expects the throbs and the knobs, i.e. shredding, amplitude, chiseled vocals and sparkly solos. As much as you want to laugh at "Motor-Borg" for its titular provocation (like you probably did with some of the songs on 2009's Dominator), guess what? You'll be too busy banging your head to give it much thought beyond a chuckle. Udo knows how to hook you, forget fighting it.

"True Born Winners" is Rev-Raptor's bona fide ass-whipper with its demanding pace that still takes pause for a reserved breakdown before resuming its heady course. On the flipside, do expect Udo and the boys to turn it down a notch on the near-wallowing "I Give As Good As I Get," while the pop-tweaked "Rock 'n Roll Soldiers" is still getting out of reveille for much of the ride. Otherwise, damn the torpedoes.

As ever, Udo Dirkschneider is an ageless wonder. Rev-Raptor is obviously his baby, even with a solid backing crew that knows every nook and cranny that goes into presenting a tried and true power metal canvas for Udo to shriek and wail against. All of it is way familiar and certainly the adage joy in repetition applies as ever. Even "Fairy Tales of Victory" is like a vintage era Def Leppard and Krokus drag given the boost of Teutonic testiculation.

Maybe that should go down as a nominee title for the next U.D.O. album.

Rating: ****

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