Written by Alex Stojanovic
We Are One
Love & Sin
Future Is The Reason Why
Children Of The World
Blindfold (The Last Defender)
Here We Go Again
We Strike Back
Beyond Good & Evil
Release Date: July 17, 2020
Label: AFM Records
Udo Dirkschneider - Vocals / Andrey Smirnov - Guitars
Fabian Dee Dammers - Guitars / Tilen Hudrap - Bass
Sven Dirkschneider - Drums
Many of the riffs might be very meat-and-potatoes, but the orchestral accompaniment locking in with the riffs and the big anthemic harmonized vocals, whether the songs are fast, mid-tempo or slow, really make you feel the vibe of positivity and unity coming through in the songs. Plus, the orchestral accompaniment give the riffs that extra bit of intensity, and also make for some pretty sweet and captivating melodies. Some prime examples of this include "We Are One", "Love & Sin", "Children Of The World", "Mother Earth" and "Neon Diamond". Lyrically, many of the songs tackle some of the biggest issues in the world today, like pollution, refugee movements and climate change.
There's a small handful of instrumentals that sort of serve as interludes during a lengthy play or musical (because it's a long album, with 15 songs). Examples include "Blackout", "Natural Forces" and "Beyond Gravity". The closing track "Beyond Good & Evil" is also an instrumental, with the exception of the small choir section in the middle. When we arrive at "Here We Go Again", we get something that I never thought we would ever hear, and that is..... Udo rapping. Needless to say that I was taken aback by it, because I did not see that coming. I love the driving feel on "Rebel Town" with the sixteen-on-the-hats drum approach, and the main riff is one of my favourites on the album. Just about the entire album's pace is mid-tempo to slow, but if you're looking for something faster, "We Strike Back" is the only track that goes into speed metal territory.
What really blows my mind is just how tight the music is. Everything is timed to perfection, and you don't hear one single note that was even slightly off, which just goes to show the mastery of the musicians in the 60-piece orchestra. I don't really have anything bad to say about this album, except that I like some songs more than others. The other thing is that if you're not a fan of when metal bands collaborate with an orchestra, you most likely won't like this album. However, like I say with everything I review, whether it's good or bad, just give it a shot, because even if you aren't a fan of something, there's always the possibility of you finding something that may actually end up sticking with you. After releasing a string of great albums in the 2010s, U.D.O. enter the 2020s with one of the best albums of their entire career.
Highs: Huge classic sounding metal riffs accompanied by powerful orchestral elements is a huge win.
Lows: If metal mixed with an orchestra turns you off, then steer clear.