There is a bit of confusion in some circles about what this actually is. Well, I’m treating it as an U.D.O. album. Some people who don’t like orchestras (etc) are already trying to practice historical revisionism and say this is not a ‘true’ U.D.O. album but a collaboration. Well, if it has Udo Dirkschneider on vocals, his band performing, his logo and is on his record label, it’s an U.D.O. album.
The reason that some people are trying to redefine this release to make it more palatable is because U.D.O. has recorded a symphonic album with an orchestra. I can see why that would annoy or even piss off some die-hard U.D.O. fans. I must admit even I raised an eyebrow when I first heard of the concept, it seemed odd. Just before I wrote this review (July 2020) I just finished writing an essay for Metal-Rules.com called STILL THE ORCHESTRA PLAYS, about the history of symphonic/orchestral Metal albums. You can go to our ‘Hell’s Heart’ section to check it out if you wish.
The basic thrust of my essay is that these types of albums are very rare. However, this is not without precedent for U.D.O. because he had previously hired an orchestra back in 2015 for his NAVY METAL NIGHT Double Live album in 2015. For WE ARE ONE he takes it to the next level and instead of having an orchestra just back his songs, they wrote new songs together. So how good is it?
I’ll preface my comments by saying I am not opposed to bands working with orchestras. Not at all. In fact very often, I quite like it. However, I’m not completely convinced it works in the U.D.O. environment. This album is long, 75 minutes long which is pretty solid. There are small pretty glaring low points in the execution of this. ‘Neon Diamond’ with a 70’s yacht Rock saxophone solo is pretty poor. Udo for some reason dabbles in some ill-advised rap/hip-hop type vocal delivery in the song, “Here We Go Again’ (not a Whitesnake cover) and again with the saxophones. ‘Blindfold (The Last Defender’) featuring female vocals (I can’t seem to figure out who is singing) which sounds like a James bond theme song. It’s not a bad song, gentle and stripped down but not very U.D.O.-like. It’s not even a duet. There are a few straight up instrumentals as well, which don’t add much. ‘Beyond Gravity is basically a folk-inspired piece with tons of bag-pipes! It is not terrible but so different it takes a bit to get used to. The other negative for me is it is loaded with political messaging, a far cry from his usual fare, a lot of hippie, ‘save the earth’ nonsense.
About half of this album is quite Metal and if you stripped away the fluff, you would have yet another rock-solid UDO album that could run about 40 minutes. There are some killer classic Metal cuts such as ‘We Strike Back’ and the symphonic sound add a lot of power so the album is by no means a total loss. The big booming tuba’s sound pretty cool in certain places.
This is forever destined to be a black sheep in the family, or if you prefer another animal (house) analogy, a dark horse in his long and illustrious career.
2. We Are One
3. Love and Sin
4. Future Is the Reason Why
5. Children of the World
6. Blindfold (The Last Defender)
8. Mother Earth
9. Rebel Town
10. Natural Forces
11. Neon Diamond
12. Beyond Gravity
13. Here We Go Again
14. We Strike Back
15. Beyond Good and Evil