“Decadent” is a word that definitely doesn’t fit for the German Tank Udo Dirkschneider when it comes down to Heavy Metal.
After over 40 years on the road, either with his former band Accept, his solo career with U.D.O. or lending his one-of-a-kind voice as a special guest to bands like Lordi and Raven, one thing must be said about the iconic Udo Dirkschneider: the German Tank is indeed an unstoppable Heavy Metal machine. And now with Decadent, the fifteenth studio album by his solo band, despite the endless feeling of “been there, done that” found in the entire album, he proves once again that he’s far from being a decadent artist.
And how has this Teutonic metaller managed to stay relevant in the world of heavy music until today? Well, you might not be a fan of his raspy and screechy voice or the way he looks, but you have to admit he surely knows how to craft good metal music no matter what, just like other veterans such as Motörhead and AC/DC, always loyal to his roots and beliefs. Decadent might not be a masterpiece or something that will be an essential part of your playlist in a not so distant future, but it’s a decent display of old school Heavy Metal and, especially if you’re a diehard fan of his solo career, an album that will keep your faith in the German Tank.
However, it’s when Udo and his crew get down to business that everything makes a lot more sense, starting with the opening track, Speeder, a more-than-pure traditional Heavy Metal tune with no shenanigans, nothing new, just good old straightforward heavy music. Udo’s voice might not be as potent as before and the lyrics are as “generic metal” as possible (“It’s faster than the light / You better step aside / The speeder of the night”), but the song is very enjoyable anyway and one of the top moments of the album. The title-track, Decadent, talks about old issues that are still among us like greed, politics and violence (which by the way are themes many bands sadly forgot they existed, or simply ignored them in their most recent albums), and its extremely catchy riff and rhythm will please all fans of both U.D.O. and Accept.
The following track, House Of Fake, has a very promising start with fast and thrilling riffs, and its chorus is a lot fun. Unfortunately, the rest of the song doesn’t vary much from that, which hampers it from being a lot more interesting. Then we have what’s probably going to be the worst metal song of 2015 in my opinion, a horrible attempt of sounding “different” entitled Mystery: despite being a heavy track, it’s annoying as hell, with its bridge, chorus and everything else being such a joke it makes me wonder what Udo and the rest of the band really wanted to do in this song. They failed miserably, unless of course they purposely wanted it to sound so bad, and I dare you can listen to this song more than once like I had to. At least the excellent Pain erases that nasty impression left in the air with a journey back to the 80’s, where inspired by old school metal music each element found in this song works extremely well. Besides, Udo smoothly declaiming the beautiful words “Try eating some of your own shit – for once / Cos’ I’m not taking it – anymore” is one of the top moments of the song for sure, deserving to become one of those memes with famous quotes from celebrities. Well, why not doing that myself as a tribute to Mr. Dirkschneider?
A ballad with Udo on vocals is always a mystery, with the final result being either amazing or a more-than-epic disaster. Luckily, Secrets In Paradise doesn’t fail to deliver, mainly due to its decent solos and a chorus that suits Udo’s raspy vocals pretty well. The band speeds up things again in Meaning Of Life, which is nothing more than an average metal song that is far from being memorable, but that doesn’t do any harm to the album either; and in Breathless, which despite not being very creative, it’s a very good metal song, with highlights to the nice work on drums by Francesco Jovino, the adequate blend of Udo’s voice and the guitar riffs in the background, and its sing-along chorus (“We are so breathless all the time / So breathless / Cos’ we are restless in the mind”). The digipak version of the album has two bonus tracks inserted randomly amidst the other tracks, with the first one being Let Me Out, and let me tell you this song is a lot better than almost everything in the entire album. It’s a song for hitting the road with your bike, with those basic drumming, lyrics and riffs that together sound powerful and exciting.
Another great moment in Decadent is Under Your Skin, where the music flows nicely and enhances the overall quality of the album. It should be one of the chosen songs for live performances, especially due to its “Fast as a Shark” accelerated rhythm. Regrettably, the rest of the album is a collection of uninspired songs, starting with the tasteless Untouchable, which is so generic it could have had any other name and lyrics and it would have sounded exactly the same still, and the other bonus track, Shadow Eyes, completely opposite to “Let Me Out” so boring it is. Rebels Of The Night, despite its fast rhythm, is another average song where even Udo doesn’t have a good performance, and lastly we have Words In Flame, a huge “orchestral” failure that will make you beg for it to be over just a few seconds after it actually starts. Why such a tiring and shallow song had to go over 7 minutes is beyond my comprehension.
Anyway, as previously mentioned, do not expect the birth of a new metal classic with Decadent, but do not expect to be disappointed with it either. U.D.O. are still good in what they do, of course led by the one and only Udo Dirkschneider, and while they release decent and honest material like in Decadent, we can rest assured old school Heavy Metal will keep pleasantly piercing through our ears for many years to come.
Best moments of the album: Speeder, Under Your Skin and Let Me Out.
Worst moments of the album: Mystery, Shadow Eyes and Words In Flame.
Released in 2015 AFM Records
1. Speeder 3:45
2. Decadent 4:49
3. House Of Fake 4:26
4. Mystery 4:36
5. Pain 5:10
6. Secrets In Paradise 5:00
7. Meaning Of Life 4:34
8. Breathless 5:21
10. Under Your Skin 4:22
11. Untouchable 5:09
13. Rebels Of The Night 4:41
14. Words In Flame 7:36
Limited edition digipak bonus tracks
9. Let Me Out 3:56
12. Shadow Eyes 4:21
Udo Dirkschneider – vocals
Andrey Smirnov – guitar
Kasperi Heikkinen – guitar
Fitty Wienhold – bass
Francesco Jovino – drums