Ever since his departure from Accept, Udo Dirkschneider has been consistently delivering product with his band U.D.O (they went by the name Dirkschneider for a bit too). The last few years have been rather eventful; particularly with Udo’s official “closing” of his life chapter with Accept by embarking on a final tour featuring their tunes in his setlist before permanently retiring them. What’s Udo’s latest move? For his newest release, We Are One, U.D.O teamed up with Das Musikkorps Der Bundeswehr (The Bundeswehr Music Corps) for a symphonic collaboration that ultimately plays out like a 007 soundtrack with an 80s metal tinge.
One can understand the mighty, world-sized intention behind the four-on-the-floor orchestra mash on the likes of “Pandemonium”, “We Are One” and “Future Is The Reason Why” to a slightly lesser extent, though it does come off pretty overcooked and ridiculous with the mass of strings, violin, guitar or what have you abound past the point of excess. “Love And Sin” executes the orchestral concept a bit more logically, while “Children Of The World” and “Blindfold (The Last Defender)” fall more heavily on the symphonic side and provide fitting, monumental moments of power. “Blackout” flows along a similar line, marvellously incorporating a glorious guitar lead over an epic, suspenseful foundation.
Having gone fully symphonic and back, “Mother Earth” sees the overblown hybrid dynamics of the album’s early tracks become more refined and restrained to an acceptable standard, though “Rebel Town” threatens to throw off that balance in its energetic peaks. “Natural Forces” proves to be a colourful reprieve; evoking images of great heroism and battles of ancient peoples throughout its duration. “Neon Diamond” comes into its own over time, but it’s hard to get over the choice of a sax solo at the beginning rather than a guitar; it throws the vibe off entirely.
“Beyond Gravity” is an intriguing tune to say the least; a cornucopia of genres and instrument choices melding into an eclectic mix that gels quite well in comparison to some of the album’s previous twists and turns in this direction. “Here We Go Again” is a total 80s rewind, and not even into Accept territory per se: it sounds like Ratt’s “Way Cool Jr.” with more horns; though whatever its throwback value may be it doesn’t mesh at all with the topical subject matter Udo lays over it. This is to be redeemed in the last two tracks, however: “We Strike Back” provides a healthy shot of old-school speed metal, while the Nietzsche nod “Beyond Good And Evil” builds up the band pit and the mosh pit up to a brimming peak then spills them over and out.
We Are One was created with a noble concept in mind that has been successfully pulled off by a number of metal greats, and undoubtedly it has its strong moments. Nevertheless, it is a flawed attempt at a commendable venture, the problem mainly laying with U.D.O and the Music Corps generally taking their orchestral metal experiment past excess and throwing off the mise en song of the record in the process. Perhaps this wasn’t the band to do this with, perhaps there’s things that can be worked out next time that can make this a more measured and listenable partnership down the road. If it is the latter, it will be worthwhile to see what comes of anything that U.D.O may do in this vein down the road. The diamonds are there- with a bit more of a polishing job, We Are One 2 could shine like mad.