Published on August 7th, 2020 | by Justin G.
U.D.O: We Are One (AFM, 2020)
I have to confess I was a bit disappointed when German metal legend Udo Dirkschneider announced that the new U.DO album would be a symphonic collaboration with the German Armed Forces Band (Musikkorps der Bundeswehr). The last U.D.O album (2018’s Steelfactory) was such a killer straight-up heavy metal album that I was really hoping for another album in that vein. Still, the idea of U.D.O plus a 60-piece symphony orchestra is pretty tempting, so I had to give We Are One a fair shot.
Unlike other bands’ symphonic releases (and indeed previous U.D.O performances with this symphony), We Are One isn’t just another U.D.O live album with a symphony backing the band. These are all brand-new songs written with that symphonic accompaniment in mind and with the direct participation of the symphony’s commanding officer. Lyrically, there’s a greater focus on social and environmental issues, which is something new. Everything comes together surprisingly well here. Sure there’s less teutonic headbanging than Steelfactory, but there’s still plenty of metallic power to balance out the grandeur of the orchestral elements. There are some speedy passages, some hard rocking songs and this overall epic vibe throughout the album that makes this more than “just another U.D.O album.”
“We Are One,” “Children Of The World,” “Mother Earth” and “Beyond Gravity” are standouts, but We Are One is really strong front-to-back. “Blindfold (The Last Defender)” deserves special mention due to the guest vocals from Manuela Markewitz. That’s a soundtrack-worthy moment for sure. You have to have a decent tolerance for/appreciation of symphonic music though, because that part isn’t just an accent, it’s a dominant feature of the album.
Just when you think you know exactly what you’re going to get from U.D.O, he hits you with something completely unexpected (and completely unforgettable). It may not be another Steelfactory, or another throwback to the old Accept sound, but it’s still a powerful album and an impressive partnership between a heavy metal band and a symphony orchestra.
Summary: Metal + Symphony