Album review: U.D.O. and the Musikkorps der Bundeswehr “We Are One”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

German metal vocalist Udo Dirkschneider takes the collaboration between his band U.D.O. and the German armed forces concert band to a new and unexpected level.

Vocalist Udo Dirkschneider is one of the most recognisable voices in heavy metal. Following a great career fronting Accept, Dirkschneider formed his own band, U.D.O. in 1987 and has soldiered on ever since (including a few reunion stints with Accept). “We Are One” is U.D.O.’s seventeenth studio album and it takes the band into new territory.

The new album is a collaboration with the Musikkorps der Bundeswehr which is the official concert band of Germany’s armed forces. Accept fans will be delighted to find that Udo has brought in former Accept band members Stefan Kaufmann and Peter Baltes to help with the songwriting. The result? It’s different and very good. The collaboration has taken Udo into some kind of fantasy symphonic metal soundscape. A bit like Avantasia and Nightwish mixed with classic Udo Dirkschneider and some Broadway musical touches thrown into the mix. It is rather refreshing hearing Udo doing something different from what we’re used to. His characteristic voice is intact, but here it gets used somewhat differently and some of the music takes him in a new direction. It’s different, it’s good and I like it. It is also great to hear the combination of, and contrasts between, Udo’s voice and the other voices that appear on the album, not least the magnificent choirs. What is different about this album from many other collaborations between rock acts and orchestras is that this is an album consisting of new material, not old hits. It’s a brave move and it pays off. If you like Udo Dirkschneider and have an open mind, chances are that you’ll enjoy this album. It’s a bit of a political concept album, focused on the many threats the world faces today, such as climate change, pollution and the refugee situation. There is even a song, “Rebel Town”, that is a celebration of three decades of German reunification. The album opens very strongly with the epic track “Pandemonium” and it’s a rollercoaster of great music from there until the album ends with “Beyond Good and Evil”. “Love and Sin” is a powerful and terrific symphonic metal track, while “Children of the World” is a whirlwind of a song that would not be out of place in a Broadway musical and “We Strike Back” sounds like classic Accept-style heavy metal. As you can tell, it’s a very varied album and it will surprise some fans.

U.D.O. and the Musikkorps der Bundeswehr’s album “We Are One” will be released on 17th July via AFM Records.

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