SKULL280

U.D.O., Timebomb  (1991, BMG Ariola)

The skull:
“Hey guys, check it out! I can balance this warhead on my forehead!” All lit up, as in
drunk, and literally lit up (eye sockets aglow with radiation), the pale orange skull that
all the other skulls try their best to avoid is at it again. Fuckin’ Rodney. Such
a jerk. Always hamming it up at the Big Dumb Skulls Christmas party, and here he goes
again. I mean, god, the nerve, especially with that arsenal of missiles behind him…one
false move and this is the last BDS Christmas party, ever. We were never really sure what
the tubing was all about, or whatever’s hanging from his left eye, but we’ll never find out either. BLAM-O! went the place, with a number of casualties, even more injured, and a hell of a mess to clean up. The sad post-script to all this is that U.D.O.’s record label wouldn’t allow his concept album about the event be titled Warhead On My Forehead. They used the skull’s posthumous nickname instead. R.I.P. Rodney “Timebomb” Schmidt.

The music:
When Udo Dirkscheider left Accept and formed U.D.O., he started out strong: debut Animal House was basically an Accept album in all but name. It slowly devolved in a dire direction thereafter. Eventually all the nuance, class and intelligence of prime Accept was gone. But it’s not all bad — if you are a fan of the first Accept run (1979-1986) you’ll find a few songs on each of U.D.O.’s first handful of albums that do his legacy and former band proud. As full albums, though, most don’t hold up to repeated listens. The lyrics started getting stupider with each new release, and by the late ’90s U.D.O. became a dumbed-down Accept and a redundant bore. What about Timebomb? It’s considered one of the best in U.D.O.’s long and ongoing slog, and while I appreciate its intensity and the fire that went into its making (much more inspired than dull trudges like Mean Machine) some of this makes any IQ I have tumble into the single digits. There really is a fine line between stupid and clever, and a lot of this is the stupid to Accept’s clever. Like “Kick in the Face.” And check out the song titles: “Metal Maniac Master Mind,” “Powersquad,” and “Thunderforce,” with lines like “Thunderforce, thunderforce, striking the universe / thunderforce, thunderforce, getting attacked, I’m fighting back.” What is this, a Power Rangers soundtrack? “Powersquad” sounds like a damn Jackyl b-side. Then there are the high points, noteworthy moments like the solo sections of “Back in Pain” and the title track, which are certifiably awesome; not just the solos, but the majestic passages underneath. Still, even if Timebomb is near the top of the pile by the stunted measuring stick we measure U.D.O. albums by, it still has that assembly-line vibe which permeates all U.D.O. albums. Set ’em up, knock ’em down, next…set ’em up, knock ’em down, next…set ’em up, knock ’em down, next…and so on.
— Friar Wagner

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