U.D.O.
"Mastercutor"

(Candlelight)

01. Mastercutor
02. The Wrong Side of Midnight
03. The Instigator
04. One Lone Voice
05. We Do – For You
06. Walker of the Dark
07. Master of Disaster
08. Tears of a Clown
09. Vendetta
10. The Devil Walks Alone
11.Dead Man's Eyes
12. Crash Bang Crash

RATING: 6.5/10

You don't get mad when AC/DC or MOTÖRHEAD put out umpteen records with the most minor adjustments made to their sound, right? You like 'em dependable, you wanna be able to count on them churning out the rockers in their inimitable style, and you'd be weirded out if they tried anything really new. So why should it be any different for an equally big (in platform shoes, maybe) legend like former ACCEPT mainman Udo Dirkschneider?

The aging Teutonic terror has been bawling out metal anthems that sound a lot like his former band for almost two decades now, on a raft of solo records that tend to blur together into one phlegmatic, defiant (if generic) snarl. The magic isn't gone, but it's definitely on autopilot — no one's gonna convince anyone that "The Wrong Side of Midnight" kicks anywhere near as much ass as "London Leatherboys" or "Breaker". But for the devoted cult that still worships Udo and his camo pants, that's not the point — they want some new choruses to bellow in St. Petersburg and at Wacken, on those token new tracks played before he and the U.D.O. band bust out "Restless and Wild" for the nine millionth time.

I mean, there are a few quirks — the faux-Arabian hook in "The Wrong Side of Midnight", the surprisingly subdued "One Lone Voice", the silly double-kick-happy "Master of Disaster". And there are some clinkers — "We Do – For You" is the obligatory "for the fans" paean, but the chorus it's so stupid, it could be the slogan in a local radio ad for a furniture store ("we do/for you/anything you ask for/we do/for you/now you're gonna get more!"). And of course, as with so many of these coasting modern-day franchises, the whole "Mastercutor" record has a slick, plastic, ProTooled feel to it, with no real bite to the guitars or drums to indicate that this band is about anything but turning in an hour of nostalgia metal and collecting a paycheck.

But again — does any of that matter? If you don't buy into the U.D.O. experience, this will be another in a long line of ignored and futile albums. If you do, you'll pick out your favorite song or two, give it a few listens, and watch as the sprawl of the U.D.O. section on your CD shelf grows — as you go back to your deservedly well-worn copies of "Restless and Wild" and "Metal Heart". "Mastercutor" is as good as it has to be, and it's enjoyable in a low-calorie, pleasantly nostalgic way, because everyone involved knows that even if the band did knock out a classic on par with Dirkschneider's past glories, who'd notice? If you're downloading, get "The Wrong Side of Midnight" and "Master of Disaster" and call it good enough.

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