There can be no doubt, no doubt whatsoever, that Dorothee Pesch‘s place in metal’s pantheon of greats is fully assured. A true trailblazer, her forty-year plus career at the top of a male-dominated genre is something to truly be marvelled at and revered.

However, that doesn’t give her a free pass to release any old tat she pleases, and there are moments on her twenty-track long new album, Conqueress – Forever Strong and Proud, where you find yourself wishing she’d given the game up in favour of any number of other more suitable ‘retirement pastimes’… The duet with Sammy Amara (apparently of German punk band Broilers), Bond Unending, for instance, is awful. A poorly-produced stab at alt.rock – never a good idea for someone who’s entire schtick rests on being as metal as they come – it completely halts the momentum built by excellent tracks like I Will Prevail, where Doro gets into her wheelhouse and does what she does best with a fire in the belly and a fist in the air – rock out.

Actually, Bond Unending isn’t the only track where the sound of the album is a sticking point; Big ballad Fels in der Brandung is hamstrung by it’s cheap sound, and the album’s second best track, the superb anthem Drive Me Wild, never gets going, mired in a poor sound that neuters the guitars when they really need to be roaring up front with our heroine’s vocals.

Rise, with it’s immediate chorus, clanking bass and slashing guitars, is another highlight, easily the best thing here, and you find yourself thinking that a ten song album packed with headbangers like this would see the metal world sitting up and banging it’s head approvingly at what would be considered a ‘return to form’; Unfortunately the need to release aimless, toothless tracks like Lean Mean Rock Machine and well meaning covers – A duet with Rob Halford on Living After Midnight and Total Eclipse of the Heart – means that listening to the album becomes an exercise in sorting wheat from chaff. And who’s got time to be doing that in these helter-skelter, madcap days?

If you get the version with the bonus tracks, you’ll also get to hear Doro’s take on Metallica‘s The Four Horsemen; Whether that is enough incentive to go out and buy this album is a decision I’ll leave up to you. I’m off to dig out my copy of Triumph and Agony

Conqueress – Forever Strong And Proud releases on October 27th.