Finnish guitarist Kasperi Heikkinen has left U.D.O. and DIRKSCHNEIDER — the two bands fronted by former ACCEPT singer Udo Dirkschneider — for personal reasons.

Says U.D.O. in a statement: "There is no bad blood or drama in this departure. The band and especially Udo wanna thank Kasperi for his great support and many fantastic shows on this planet. All the best, Kasperi!"

Heikkinen adds: "I want to thank everyone, especially the fans, for these great four years I was in the band. I also wish all the best for the band with their future endeavors. From now on, I will focus on my other music projects and some different outlets of creativity. You will surely hear from me again when the time is right. Stay metal and tsönk all the way!"

Heikkinen just completed a massive North American tour with DIRKSCHNEIDER.

The 36-year-old Kasperi was the founding member and the songwriter of the Finnish heavy metal band MERGING FLARE. The group's debut album, "Reverence", was released in 2011 and was highly praised among the critics. His past activities include four studio albums and international touring with symphonic metal band AMBERIAN DAWN, two studio albums with the progressive death metal outfit ELENIUM, one studio album with traditional hard rock/heavy metal combo CONQUEST, and various smaller releases such as EPs and singles. Besides that, Kasperi has worked with various tribute bands, including GUARDIANS OF MANKIND (GAMMA RAY), VICARS OF HELL (JUDAS PRIEST) and MACDETH (MEGADETH). He has also toured Europe and Russia with German power metallers GAMMA RAY.


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