July 17, 2020 U.D.O. – We Are One (Album Review)
Working towards the greater good as a collaborative team is key in this day and age. It is about rising above the destruction which surrounds everyday lives and doing something right. On planet Heavy Metal, U.D.O., led by Vocalist Udo Dirkschneider, is one band which has achieved quite noble accomplishments, and they are back at it again on Friday, July 17th with their latest album, We Are One.
Since 1987, after leaving Germany powerhouse Accept, Dirkschneider has been a staple in the Heavy Metal world with his die hard classic approach. With U.D.O. he continued to carry that Metal torch and it shows with We Are One. Released through AFM Records, all 15 new songs were created and organized by U.D.O. along with German Armed Forces Concert Band, Musikkorps der Bundeswehr, led by Christoph Scheibling. In addition, two former Accept Musicians Stefan Kaufmann and Peter Baltes were also involved the songwriting, as well as the German Armed Forces´ Composers Guido Rennert and Alexander Reuber.
Their seventeenth studio album, We Are One features a 60 piece orchestra enhancement that includes guest vocalists as well as an extreme unusual result for a universally accepted album. This odd pairing actually reveals its comfortable collaborative efforts united in such a way that you would even question it being a first attempt at such a feat. The current core line up of U.D.O. today of course begins with aggressive voice of Udo Dirkschneider himself, along with the incredibly skilled Guitarist Andrey Smirnov, who has proven his worth as a great fit for the style of Heavy Metal at hand since 2013. Other core team players are newest Guitarist Dee Dammers, Bassist Tilen Hudrap, along with Udo’s son, Sven Dirkschneider on the drums for the last five years. All this laid out, adding in the wonderment of the 60 piece orchestra leaves no room for mediocrity.
Starting things off is a powerful orchestral crescendo leading up to a typical Heavy Metal based U.D.O. tune called “Pandemonium.” The guitars blend excellently with the direction the orchestra takes on, and the shift in leadership between the two is arranged in a magnificent way. Then the title-track features an enthusiastic chorus singing “we are one, we are free, and we need a place to be“… and it seems to resonate just as well as all previous U.D.O. anthems. Moving forward, “Love and Sin” features a strong flute solo which repeats in multiple sections later on as a unique and stylish tool.
While other Heavy Metal bands, such as Therion, have attempted the dominating orchestra addition with much success, U.D.O. holds their own with the sheer wit of mixing intense guitar solos, drum beats, and hard vocals with a natural symphonic blend on We Are One. And with that in mind, breaking down all 15 songs to do each piece justice would take a novel, but certain highlights must be pointed out and summed up none the less.
For example, “Blindfold (The Last Defender)” takes you to another world that features a unknown female vocalist along with a marching drum beat, and an intense orchestral backbone spiked with a creative flute medley. Following this is a serene sound that hits crescendo into more crafted guitar riffs throughout “Blackout” which is a pure instrumental ending in piano. Jumping off into “Natural Forces,” there is once again a fantastic exchange between the guitar parts, and the orchestral performance. This is as “Beyond Gravity” brings in a new dynamic of unique sounds to the table that enables the world to appreciate what U.D.O. is selling them. Next up, a complete opposite approach ensues with “Here We Go Again” with a strong guitar domination that falls into a catchy vocal trap with enthusiastic lyrics. Settling into a more recognized approach, “We Strike Back” then segues into the final frontier with “Beyond Good and Evil” which transports the essence of the orchestra to the frontline once again.
Throughout We Are One you are reminded just how important Heavy Metal can be to the well being of the world. Creating a positive and peaceful future is not a simple accomplishment, yet U.D.O. finds a way to expresses this through their complex unified approach. Taking vastly diverse instrumental qualities, and weaving them together in such a way that they actually thrive off one another, U.D.O.’s We Are One is inspiring and magical. If only the whole world could envision and manifest this dream turned reality into their everyday agenda, then perhaps depression and unethical division could dissipate forever. For all of the above reasons Cryptic Rock gives We Are One 5 out of 5.