Review by Vladimir on August 16, 2023.
Ever since my early teens, I’ve been a big fan of the legendary German heavy metal band Accept. The reason why I love their music so much apart from the energy and the heaviness were the vocals of Udo Dirkschneider, who is still to this day the definitive voice for Accept, with no disrespect to David Reece or Mark Tornillo. Sadly, I have not been able to catch up with Udo’s solo career with his own band U.D.O. after the departure with Accept, but I was very reluctant to give myself a chance with their new album Touchdown, which is set to be released on August 25th via Atomic Fire Records. Whatever may be the outcome of this album upon its release, I am sure that millions of fans will never turn their back on U.D.O. even if they end up having lukewarm feelings towards the album, but I personally doubt that will be the case.
If what you came for was headbanging heavy metal, then the first track 'Isolation Man' already delivers your deepest desires. The song immediately gives you an impression that this album is going to be packed with tight and heavy riffs, which along with Udo’s signature singing, backing vocals and the powerful drumming form thunder and lightning. If you were by any chance hungry for some catchy and melodic guitar work on this album, then you’ve got it friend, because the third track 'The Double Dealer’s Club' is hot rocking all the way through. One interesting bit that made me chuckle was the segment that appears on the fourth song 'Fight For The Right', which is when the band suddenly started playing the classic composition “Turkish March” by Mozart. Of course, this isn’t anything unusual considering the fact that bands like Helloween and Savatage both included “In The Hall Of The Mountain” by Edvard Grieg in their songs, but it was awesome to hear U.D.O. briefly cover Mozart in their own song. The general songwriting is straightforward in-your-face heavy metal with mighty “balls to the wall” that shine like pure steel all throughout the album. Some of the songs like 'Heroes Of Freedom' for example opt for a more uplifting approach, while others tend to lean on a heavy metal breakdown that wants nothing more than to crush the speakers and bring the walls down. Even though the heavy riffs and sweet guitar solos certainly deliver, what I consider to be the strongest point on this album is definitely Udo’s vocal performance. The man himself is 71 years old, yet he still sounds as great as he did back in the prime days of Accept, which is just incredible and unbelievable at the same time. I had no doubt whatsoever about Udo’s singing, because even though he does age physically, his vocals stay fresh and strong as always. It’s not so common these days to find a famed heavy metal vocalist who keeps their vocals in good shape, but Udo is certainly one of the few rare examples that in my humble opinion deserves more than words of respect. What’s also a great thing about this album is that it doesn’t feel too long and that it’s not getting weaker at some point like many albums tend to do on the other half or once it’s nearing its closure. I must say that this is indeed an impressive feat considering that there are a total of 13 songs, which were successful in keeping my constant attention. I personally found it very hard to tell which are some of the strongest songs on this album, because every song is great in their own way and each one of them delivers. Some of the stand out songs I could name for you are definitely 'Isolation Man', 'Fight For The Right', 'Punchline', 'Better Start To Run', 'The Battle Understood' and the title track 'Touchdown', but I still think it’s unfair to just name a few songs on this album since every song is worthy of attention and praise. I understand that Accept and U.D.O. fans are divided in terms of how they treat each of these bands, but I still believe that one can be a fan of both and simply enjoy the music, without the need to undermine one or the other, certainly if you have something so good such as this. The modern sound production does the album justice by giving a good treatment to the guitars with a heavy tone, but also making the drums and the vocals stand out as well.
Although I wouldn’t go as far to consider Touchdown to be my number 1 heavy metal album of the year, I think it still deserves to be on the top of the metal charts along with many other albums that were released this year. Despite the fact that I didn’t follow up on other U.D.O. albums up until this point, going back to hear the almighty man sing on 'Touchdown' was absolutely enough for me, but all the great songs on this album was what made me stay all the way through this incredible joyride. I can’t say for sure that others will enjoy this album as much as I did, but I can definitely guarantee that a diehard fan of Accept or U.D.O. will find plenty to admire in these songs.
Rating: 8.7 out of 10717