BW&BK Interview: U.D.O. – Nailed It!

By Carl Begai

udo2Udo Dirkschneider will tell you – and a host of press people and fans will agree – that his U.D.O. metal machine has been on cruise control for the past few years. Not that anyone was expecting the 62 year-old vocalist to abandon the sound he created with Accept a lifetime ago and kept alive with U.D.O. while Wolf Hoffmann and Co. explored their options before getting back into the game with a new singer, yet there was something painfully tired and all too predictable about U.D.O.’s last couple albums. As a result all but the diehard fans kept expectations low leading up to the new slab, Steelhammer, only to discover a vibrant in-your-face yesteryear U.D.O. pounding at the door. Gone are guitarist Igor Gianola and guitarist/producer Stefan Kaufmann, and along with the latter the compressed punch-card production and nigh-on-industrial tweakings have also disappeared. In exchange, Dirkschneider and his new bandmates have turned out an album worthy of the classic U.D.O debut Animal House (‘87) and over-the-top Timebomb record(‘91), proving there band has plenty of ammo left.

“I wasn’t really happy about the sound of the last two U.D.O. albums,” says Dirkschneider, singling out Dominator (2009) and Rev-Raptor (2011) as the guilty culprits in the band’s catalogue. “They were very cold. There are some great songs on those albums but there’s no feeling in there, no atmosphere. I think it was good that things happened the way they did. Steelhammer is a new start for U.D.O.”

Kaufmann’s departure was a surprise to folks outside the band, given that he and Dirkschneider came up together with Accept and have worked together pretty much non-stop since 1980. The decision to part ways was health-related, however, and not a typical music industry “creative differences” divorce.

“When we did the recordings for the Rev-Raptor album we had to stop for three months because he couldn’t move anymore,” Dirkschneider explains. “Then, on the tour he had to take painkillers, so he wasn’t in a good mood and the whole atmosphere in the band was bad. I’ve known Stefan for nearly 40 years or something, and after the last show in Kiev I told him we needed to talk about this, and I said that I thought it would be best if he stopped touring. Continue reading BW&BK Interview: U.D.O. – Nailed It!

AFM Records – 15 Years Of Metal Addiction: Feeding The Need

By Carl Begai

On November 25th and 26th, Hamburg-based AFM Records celebrated 15 years in the trenches. It was a remarkably well-organized weekend of work and play, featuring fine dining, an open bar (or two), great people, an early morning label showcase to introduce new AFM signings (that not everybody attended due to the late late late night), a hotel bar that never closed (and was abused accordingly.. all hail Motel One), culminating with a festival at the Markthalle in the heart of downtown. Rather than the usual cattle call of press hacks, the vast majority of folks invited to attend were in fact AFM business partners, responsible for keep the label in people’s faces over the last several years. Being one of the aforementioned journalists, it was an honour to be asked to come out on behalf of BW&BK for the whole knock-down-drag-out event, and it was certainly worth the time spent.

On the work end of things, the label presented priority releases for early 2012, including German glamsters Kissin’ Dynamite, Orden Ogan, Lyriel, Solution .45, Fear Factory, Buck Satan And The 666 Shooters (industrial country… really) and of particular note, Ministry’s comeback record, Relapse. This included a special video message from frontman / mastermind Al Jourgensen, and two tracks that are the closest Ministry will (n)ever get to a ballad.

As for the play side – other than the carrying on like kids in a candy store backstage – the Markthalle hosted 15 AFM bands on two stages, including U.D.O., The New Black, Voodoo Circle, Mob Rules, A Life Divided, Dark Age and Lake Of Tears. Doro Pesch, a former member of the label’s roster, attended in a strictly non-performance capacity but took plenty of time out for her fans backstage. As did Piet Sielck of Iron Savior fame, who soaked up U.D.O.’s show with us normal folk. And staff members from some of AFM’s international partners –, Soundforge Music Group, Scream Magazine, Tangra Mega Rock Radio to name a few – kept the good vibes up in the rafters from the first glass of champagne. Continue reading AFM Records – 15 Years Of Metal Addiction: Feeding The Need