|Review: U.D.O. - We Are One|
|We Are One|
Label: AFM Records
Year released: 2020
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: July 31, 2020
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
for:We Are One
Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (6 Votes)
It's kind of funny to think that Udo has been doing his solo band, U.D.O., for over 30 years and yet many people still think of him first as the voice behind many Accept classics, a band that he was part of for a much shorter period. It's not like he hasn't had more than his share of solid (and a few not-so-solid) albums under the U.D.O. moniker. In recent years U.D.O. have occasionally thrown us a few curve balls on their albums, songs that were partly or completely different from what the band usually does. Why not go further? We Are One sees U.D.O. go for a full-on symphonic cooperation with the Musikkorps der Bundeswehr (Concert Band of the German Armed Forces).
I'll say right off the bat that I didn't like this much on the first couple of listens—hell, I hated it the first time I listened to it. It sounds over the top and the pomposity can blow off the roof, so you kind of have to be in the right mindset to appreciate what they're doing here. The lyrical subjects are largely about current socio-political topics and I'm sure some people will be butthurt, but what the hell—if it wasn't that it would be something else.
"Grandiose" and "epic" come to mind when thinking of most songs here or even the album as a whole. The sound here is powerful and loud and the anthemic nature of many songs will just sweep you off your feet. Cooperation like this, I've found in the past, often sounded off as if the metal band and the orchestra were each doing their own thing as if the other party did not exist. Here, it's obvious that great care was taken in crafting the songs for this project and everything just flows seamlessly, and you simply don't run into those cringeworthy moments that often plague such musical cooperation. The melodic heavy metal U.D.O. are known for is the foundation for the album and you'll find all those catchy melodies and rocking moments the band is known for, but all augmented by the power of the orchestra and a few songs completely stray away from the U.D.O. trademark sound, which is what we have grown used to hearing from the band on the last few albums, so no surprise there. Udo himself does most of the singing, but there are also female vocals and choirs aplenty, and with every listen I'm always amazed at how they managed to bring all this together and make it work so seamlessly. There's a lot of variety on display, yet it all gels. One or two songs are weaker than the others and I find that the album ends a little abruptly, but that's just a tiny scratch on an otherwise great album.
Your mileage may vary, but for me this is one of those albums that turned me off at first and I had to put it aside and give it another try later when I was in the mood for this kind of stuff and willing to give it the attention it deserves. The end result was repeated plays and a lot of fun—air guitar, air drums, singing along (in my head-wouldn't want to traumatize the neighbours) and playing conductor were all part of that repeated listening experience. We Are One was an ambitious project that few bands would dare attempt, and U.D.O and the Musikkorps der Bundeswehr pulled it off with flying colours. I'd say this sets the tone for how to do a metal/orchestra cooperation project.
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