2012 was a very successful anniversary year for U.D.O. and the way it was celebrated, with the release of Celebrator, the live record Live In Sofia and the whole back catalogue being available again as reissues, was definitely worthy of its occasion. It also shows that the band around Udo Dirkschneider still has its finger on the pulse of time and that a lot of fans are waiting for new songs by this legendary band. In May 2013 the wait is over and U.D.O. will deliver their next studio album. The title is Steelhammer and it is one of the most powerful outputs the band has created so far. Steelhammer marks a return to the band's roots, a return to real, organic drum sound and biting Metal guitars. This contemporary yet traditional mixture will definitely blow your mind.
The riffs kick in....the siren induced whammy echoes through the speakers like a armor plated ambulance ready to rescue you from the pounding you are about to receive on U.D.O.'s 'Steelhammer.' The album is the most fetching and headbang forcing album the former Accept vocalist has released since the phenomenal 'Thunderball' (2004). Rhythmic anthems like 'A Cry for the Nation,' 'Metal Machine,' 'Stay True,' and 'When Love Becomes a Lie' have all the hallmarks of all time U.D.O. classics that fans have enjoyed over the years, such as 'Thunder in the Tower,' 'Man and Machine,' 'Lay Down the Law' and 'Blitz of Lightning.' Fans are also treated to the softer side of the power biter in 'Heavy Rain' and perhaps his most interesting offering ever, the monumental 'Book of Faith.' The album is the first to feature new guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen (Ex-Amberian Dawn), who brings a fresh young exciting flare to the veteran act. 'Steelhammer' is an essential album to any metal fan's collection. --Metal Underground.com
'Steelhammer' gets it right from first to last; it's a fine dose of 'keep it true' heavy metal. There's a good variation in tempo across the songs, with lots of catchy melodies and hooks, and burning guitar solos. For pure heavy metal, some of the best tracks are 'A Cry of a Nation', a commentary on world financial politics, 'King of Mean', 'Steelhammer', the accessible 'Never Cross My Way', and 'Stay True'. The most curious song here maybe the final one. 'Book of Faith' is developed with a strong symphonic layer for an epic feel and has some interesting religious allusions.
Of course there's Udo's trademark vocal style. While that grizzly bear raspy growl remains, Dirkschneider can vary his approach. Probably the most notable is on 'Heavy Rain', a ballad where Udo is equally raw and smooth, not a contradiction for him. Then there's the audio effects applied in 'Timekeeper'. Then there's his true melodic metal side in 'Never Cross My Way' and 'When Love Becomes A Lie'. Or the Spanish language song 'Basta Ya', written and performed with Victor Garcia Gonzales of Warcry.
UDO's 'Steelhammer' is simply a very good classic melodic heavy metal album, with Dirkschneider at full strength and in fine form. Easily recommended. (4.6/5.0) --Dangerdog
One can randomly flick through any track on 'Steelhammer' and be guaranteed a blazing experience. Whether it's the piano-led starkness of 'Heavy Rain' - a magical swooning journey bereft of any metal - or the pounding bulldozer that is 'Stay True', one can only marvel at the staying power of U.D.O. Simply put, this German five-piece are going nowhere, and long may they remain tattooed on our psyche, because without these sort of veterans metal would be truly dead and buried. (8/10) --Metal Forces