October 15, 2020

U.D.O. is a German heavy metal band that was formed by the larger than life vocalist Udo Dirkschneider in 1987 after he left fellow German rock band Accept. Dirkschneider did subsequently return to Accept between 1992 and 1996 but that is another story completely. His new band has released many very high quality hard/power metal albums over the years with the main feature being huge swathes of guitar and the truly distinctive vocals of Dirkschneider that are in the Alex Harvey, Bon Scott, Brian Johnson range but are so deep and grizzled that he may even gargle with razor blades!

Previous albums have become renowned for the in your face, loud and strutting metal delivery although he is prone to the odd power ballad but these often take a back seat compared to the usual direct metal approach. It therefore came as a surprise when album number sixteen was announced and that it would be collaboration with the Musikkorps der Bundeswehr or the Concert Band of the German Armed Forces under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Scheibling. This truly is a combined affair rather than simply being a rock band backed by an orchestra as the fifteen new songs were developed and arranged by U.D.O. and Scheibling and with the two former Accept musicians, Stefan Kaufmann and Peter Baltes, also being part of the song writing process along with the German Armed Forces´ composers Guido Rennert and Alexander Reuber.

Of course, rock bands working with orchestra’s is nothing new and some have worked better than others but few, I would imagine, will have been put together like this one as a concept from the very beginning on which band and 60 piece concert orchestra worked as one to produce the music. Rather unsurprisingly, given the grand scale of the project, it is a concept work based around the principle that we are one people facing many issues and problems, of which most if not all are created by mankind be it political or geographical and we need to do something quick to sort it out. U.D.O. has history in these joint ventures with the ‘Navy Metal Night’ that held in Tuttlingen in 2014 and the Concert Band of the German Armed Forces performing at Wacken in 2015 so this album was logically the next step for the band. In many respects, this is a typical U.D.O. metal album as the concert band adds further power to the proceeding rather than softening the edges with swathes of stringed instruments which is what often happens. The intention here though was to show both bands working in harmony but still producing classical metal with the odd power ballad too but with the addition of the orchestra using instruments you wouldn’t normally associate with U.D.O. including a delightful choir, military drumming and bagpipes of all things but it really works to perfection.

The band has had many, many changes with the team responsible for this project being Udo Dirkschneider on vocals, Andrey Smirnov and Fabian Dee Dammers on guitars, Tilen Hudrap on bass with Sven Dirkschneider on drums. Sadly, we do not have details on the other performers particularly the absolutely wonderful female vocal on The Last Defender a song that truly is a moment of absolute majesty. The whole album has a rather special ‘sheen’ to it which is down to the added orchestration and it works so well with the bombastic metal associated with U.D.O. In many respects, this is a typically untypical U.D.O. album in that it is so obviously them but seen in such a different light. The military band brings an added level of power and might to the band which is complementary rather than at odds with the basic sound of the group and to that end the result is a truly remarkable heavy metal album. Each play truly does reveal a new level of intricacy to the music and it has been produced superbly. A larger than life and a 60 piece military orchestra, how could it not be a marriage made in heaven?

All For One track list

  1. Pandemonium (5:27)
  2. We Are One (4:52)
  3. Love And Sin (7:12)
  4.  Future Is The Reason Why (5:03)
  5. Children Of The World (6:35)
  6. Blindfold (The Last Defender) (4:20)
  7. Blackout (2:40), Mother Earth (4:10)
  8. Rebel Town (5:31)
  9. Natural Forces (3:29)
  10. Neon Diamond (5:46)
  11. Beyond Gravity (4:34)
  12. Here We Go Again (5:07)
  13. We Strike Back (3:53)
  14. Beyond Good And Evil (6:30)