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U.D.O. Live in Bulgaria 2020 – Pandemic Survival Show

By George Mihalovich, Pure Rock Patroller
Tuesday, March 23, 2021 @ 1:17 PM


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U.D.O.
Live in Bulgaria 2020 – Pandemic Survival Show

AFM Records




Live in Bulgaria 2020 – Pandemic Survival Show is U.D.O.’s latest addition to a fairly extensive catalog of live CDs/DVDs, following Navy Metal Night (2015) and DIRKSCHEIDER LIVE – Back To The Roots – Accepted! (2017). So why is this release noteworthy? First, it reflects the current lineup, composed of Udo Dirkschneider, Andrey Smirnov (guitars) and Sven Dirkschneider (drums), with the two newest members — Fabian “Dee” Dammers (guitars) and Tilen Hudrap (bass) —replacing the departed Kasperi Heikkinen (guitar) and Fitty Wienhold (longtime bassist) in 2018. That’s a fairly high turnover rate, particularly considering that Sven also took over Francesco Jovino’s vacant drum chair in 2016. Second, this concert was a very ambitious undertaking based on extensive logistical and hygiene requirements — and the fact that it was their only 2020 performance and a single chance to capture the magic after a long hiatus.

Fortunately, this two-CD set (25 tracks total) documents a band that sounds road-worthy and battle-tested (notwithstanding that it’s never entirely clear how much work was done in post-production to tighten things up). Udo's razor-blade wail doesn't quite have the strength of the past, but considering his age he's still in good form as they tear through a collection of material from U.D.O.’s catalog. There is also a selection of ACCEPT classics, which contradicts previous statements that U.D.O. would “never play ACCEPT songs live again” while ACCEPT is still a functioning band (after the extensive DIRKSCHEIDER tour devoted to this legacy). The justification was that this was a special event and they did it for the fans; opinions may vary on whether or not this was necessary, as U.D.O.’s volume of output surpasses his recorded work with ACCEPT. The quality of the U.D.O. material is undeniable, but it hasn’t reached the legendary status of the ACCEPT tracks — and fans certainly always prefer to hear the songs with the original vocalist. Discerning consumers can make the call on whether or not this was the right decision. That said, they certainly do a more than adequate job on the ACCEPT classics, particularly “Princess of the Dawn” and “Metal Heart”, both of which feature some well-played excerpts of famous classical pieces and extensive lead work — with the requisite “Balls to The Wall” as the closer.

There is an understandable focus on 2018’s Steelfactory (the last record they supported on tour), specifically “Tongue Reaper”, “One Heart One Soul”, “Rising High”, “Rose in the Desert” and “Hungry and Angry”. “Metal Machine” (Steelhammer), “Vendetta” (Mastercutor) and the title tracks from Timebomb and Animal House were excellent choices and amongst the disc’s highlights. There are also bass and drum solos to complement the numerous guitar interludes (“Prologue: The Great Unknown”, written and performed by new guitarist Dee Dammers); surprisingly they are both entertaining and end before they wear out their welcome.

The crisp production was handled by former bandmember and longtime U.D.O. associate (drums/guitar/songwriting/production) Stefan Kaufmann. The official live videos for "Man And Machine" (Man and Machine) and "Wrong Side Of Midnight" (Mastercutor) are solid representations of this set of tight, precise and thoroughly German heavy/classic/power metal. Live in Bulgaria 2020 – Pandemic Survival Show captures a positive moment in time during an unprecedented and difficult year for the music industry and the world.

3.8 Out Of 5.0


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