It beggars belief that, after a staggering fifty-five years in the game, Germany’s Godfather of metal Udo Dirkschneider  would want to go anywhere near a microphone, let alone participate in the recording of an album as consistently impressive as Touchdown, his latest offering and first for new label home Atomic Fire.

This is Udo’s eighteenth full-length studio outing under the U.D.O. banner, and I’m not lying when I say he sounds as fresh now at the age of seventy one as he did way back in 1987 when the first U.D.O. opus, Animal House, was unleashed upon the ears of the world. Of course he doesn’t do this alone, and it has to be noted that the current band he has surrounded himself with – son Sven on drums, Dee Dammers and Andrey Smirnov (guitars) and former Accept colleague Peter Baltes on Bass (throw in Stefan Kaufmann, who assisted in the recording and mastering process and you’ve got sixty percent of the Accept lineup that recorded Balls To The Wall here!)  surely ranks among the best he has assembled; to hear them firing on all cylinders on the riotous title track and other standouts like opener Isolation Man and The Double Dealers Club is an absolute joy, whilst Smirnov and Dammers’ cheeky excursion into Wolf Hoffmann territory on Fight For The Right, where they plunder Mozart‘s Rondo Alla Turca midsong is sure to bring a smile to the face of mischief-minded fans everywhere…

To say that Dirkschneider is enjoying a late-career renaissance is perhaps overstating things a little, as the man simply never puts out a sub-standard record, but it is remarkable that he is able to keep up such consistently high standards so deep into an association with music that started, in band terms at least, in 1968; Udo is on of heavy metal’s crown jewels and should be revered as such. The fact that he’s able to still come up with thrilling albums like Touchdown makes that reverence a very easy service to pay.

Touchdown is out now.