Whereas some traditional Heavy Metal acts have honestly had a dropped off in quality with their new material, Germany’s U.D.O. clearly have not. Formed back in 1987 by Udo Dirkschneider after he exited the well-known Accept, since that time U.D.O. has been as consistent as any. In fact, the band has released a massive 19 studio albums, with their most recent being 2023’s Touchdown.
Released back on August 25th through Atomic Fire Records, Touchdown comes a year after Dirkschneider’s solo album My Way, and 2 years after U.D.O.’s Game Over. Clearly lacking no inspiration even as he approaches 72 years of age in 2024, Dirkschneider has lined the walls of U.D.O.’s fort with contributors that assure quality outputs. This lineup consists of highly talented Guitarists Andrey Smirnov and Dee Dammers, Udo’s son Sven Dirkschneider on drums, and most recent entry, founding Accept Bassist Peter Baltes. Really a diverse group of musicians, spanning generations, their work on Touchdown is second to none.
Now, if you have followed U.D.O. through the years, it has been clear the band is dishing out some of the best new Heavy Metal music of all the bands that began in the ‘80s. Not a knock on other legendary acts from this golden age of Metal, but U.D.O. are not only prolific, but really creating some inspiring songs. Touchdown follows this trend and offers you tracks that are lively, catchy, and full of exceptional guitar work. Beyond this, they are well-written, and that is really the factor that wins you over. Not dull, lackluster, or self-indulgent, they actually grab your attention and keep it for the near hour long stretch of music that Touchdown offers.
Complete with speedy riffs, powerful drums, ever-present basslines, and impossible to mistaken vocals from Udo Dirschneider, it is a challenge to single out just a few favorite tracks here. Although, if you were between a rock and hard place, bold moments would have to include “Isolation Man,” “The Flood,” “Fight For The Right,” “Better Start To Run,” as well as “Punchline.” Although, there really are no tracks here that require you to hit the skip button.
Overall, it is truly impressive what U.D.O. have put together with Touchdown. It has the feel of classic ‘80s Metal, production that is not excessively loud, and songs that stand strongly on their own. Moreover, there is a positive energy amidst everything with lyrics about honor and individuality; ranging from standing up for yourself and fighting for what is right, to turning inward for more self-awareness. And if you are someone who lost track of U.D.O. over the years, and really enjoyed the Udo Dirkschneider era of Accept, Touchdown would be a great starting point to relaunch your interest. One of the best pure Heavy Metal records of 2023, Cryptic Rock gives Touchdown 4.5 out of 5 stars.