We Are One

(AFM Records/Soulfood Music)

     Let's face it; in a time when the already much-maligned Heavy Metal genre is being almost continuously re-defined (let's face it; the artists and groups of our rapidly-fading youths aren't exactly getting any younger, now are they?), the efforts of the proverbial 'Old Guard' have become increasingly important. A prime example of this is the alarmingly sprawling discography of former Accept frontman/co-founder Udo Dirkschneider. Having already helmed a series of bona fide classics (“Balls To The Wall”, “Fast As A Shark” and Metal Heart, 1985, to name only a few), the notoriously diminutive, fatigues-clad vocalist issued a series of universally-heralded solo efforts in rapid-fire succession while further solidifying an already well-deserved reputation as a creative force not to be ignored. Fortunately, this continues to be the case with the highly-anticipated release of the mighty We Are One, his latest--and quite possibly greatest--auditory offerings to date. The question is, are you really ready?

     On the brilliant We Are One (2020), an expertly assembled fifteen song collection of orchestra-laden Heavy Metal, each track, beginning with the fist-pumping--albeit delightfully majestic--'wake-up call' “Pandemonium” and the maddeningly infectious, all-too-urgent call-to-arms “We Are One”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Co-written, arranged and recorded in a truly groundbreaking collaboration with the Concert Band Of The German Armed Forces (i.e., Musikkorps der Bundeswehr, via the command of Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Scheibling and composers Guido Rennert and Alexander Reuber), the earliest excursions serve as an oft-grandiose testament to their combined prowess. Laying the foundation for the once unthinkable 'pairings' that await, the groups seamlessly meld the respective tonalities into a single cohesive tidal wave that serves as an idealistic representation of their combined strengths.

     Continuing with the galloping, environmentally-charged “Future Is The Reason Why” and the seething, self-explanatory lament “Mother Earth”, the steadfast--to say the very least--combination of ex-Accept vocalist Udo Dirkschneider, guitarists Andrey Smirnov (Epidemia, Blaze Bayley, Paul Di'Anno) and Dee Dammers, bassist Tilen Hudrap (Keller, Paradox, Thraw) and drummer Sven Dirkschneider drive home each key focal point via what can only be described as a seamless blend of orchestration, Power, Speed Metal and Classic Metal. Boldly eschewing the stereotypical content so often employed by the crème de la crème of the genre, the group offers an unprecedented lyrical focus that addresses an array of Global interests. Accomplishing this while avoiding the 'reinvent the wheel' mentality (i.e., despite everything, the gritty essence of Dirkschneider's delivery remains intact) such a union could otherwise elicit, they tirelessly deliver the proverbial goods to their rabid constituents.

     The ideal studio follow-up to the equally ingenious Navy Metal Night (2015), other standouts, including the overwhelmingly thunderous, yet thoroughly thought-provoking, “Neon Diamond” and the equally impressive, uniquely-exhaustive closer “Beyond Good And Evil”, further re-enforce the notoriously prolific Dirkschneider's reputation as a bona fide creative force. With Scheibling augmenting his already depth-defying orchestrations via a solo singer, a drum line and various oriental percussions, the group at long last finds itself on the cusp of a creative awakening. Ultimately succeeding by abandoning many of the tropes that propelled him to the dizzying heights of international acclaim, what ultimately elevates this collection to 'instant classic' status is the group's overall conviction. The end result(s), as you have undoubtedly already deduced, are entirely worthy of the highest of accolades, making We Are One a fine addition to both their repertoire and many mid-year best of lists.

     Easily Dirkschneider's most adventurous release to date (which, in all honesty, is a statement unto itself), the majority--if not all--of the decidedly grandiose wares contained herein are fueled by a sense of authenticity few of his few legitimate contemporaries are capable of replicating. Daring, inventive and perhaps most importantly deftly executed, what ultimately separates the often mighty We Are One from the veritable wealth of well-heeled contemporaries that preceded it is a true focus on cohesive arrangements, a much-welcomed and increasingly characteristic that will leave both die-hard completists begging for mercy. Needless to say, if you've once again found yourself in search of refreshingly thought-provoking and, for that matter, outright musically-challenging, alternative to the painfully mindless din and clatter that masquerades as 'mainstream'/new Metal, then this, my friends, might just be the high-octane counterirritant for whatever ails you. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Select Discography

We Are One (2020)

Steelfactory (2018)

Navy Metal Night (2015)

Decadent (2015)

Steelhammer (2013)

Live In Sofia (2012)

Rev-Raptor (2011)

Dominator (2009)

Mastercutor (2007)

Mission No. X (2005)

Thunderball (2004)

Man And Machine (2002)

Live From Russia (2001)

Holy (1999)

No Limits (1998)

Solid (1997)

Timebomb (1991)

Faceless World (1990)

Mean Machine (1989)

Animal House (1987)


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