U.D.O. – Touchdown (Atomic Fire Records)Wednesday, 23rd August 2023
Omnipresent as a force of metal, Udo Dirkschneider is a legend as a vocalist through his decades of work in Accept as well as U.D.O. There seems to be no desire to retire even as he turned 71(!) this year. The latest studio album Touchdown features the return of ex-Accept bassist Peter Baltes to the fold – and an array of material that showcases an artist willing to keep one foot in his conventional traditional, old-school wheelhouse, while also encouraging his younger musical compatriots to develop songs that contain some modern angst, power, and bite.
With no shortage of current events topics or experiences to pull from, you can expect content that touches on the COVID-19 pandemic through opener “Isolation Man”, the German flood for “The Flood”, as well as the Ukraine/Russia war in “Fight For Your Right”. The opening machine gun Painkiller-esque drum assault from Sven Dirkschneider allows the dual rhythms and harmony guitar possibilities of Andrey Smirnov and Dee Dammers to shine for the aforementioned “Isolation Man”, while the mid-tempo stomp plus circular anthem atmosphere surrounding the driving rhythms pushes “Punchline” to fist waving highlight status, the large Teutonic gang-oriented choruses a delight as well. The heavier, darker overtones keep Udo’s unique screams, devilish groans, plus sinister bite sharper than ever – check out “The Betrayer” and “Better Start to Run” for examples of his voice never wavering even this deep into his illustrious career. Thirteen tracks that move in a workmanlike fashion at 3:31 to 4:51 timeframes, by the time the thunderous, almost speed metal title track finishes things off, most will be ready to press play from the beginning again, thirsting for more adrenaline-laced heavy metal.
In terms of the previous discography, Touchdown has a lot of qualities that combine the atmosphere of Timebomb and Steelhammer, put through a blender of more modern attacking methodology to achieve prime results. U.D.O. certainly combine the right songwriting, performances, and production values to appeal not only to the current generation getting into the genre for the first time, but their older family members who may have missed keeping up with the band for a little while.