U.D.O.’s Latest LP Will Unite Music Lovers Around The World

Courtesy: AFM Records

Veteran rock band U.D.O. returns Friday with its 17th full-length studio recording.  Titled We Are 1, the 15-song record features the band performing its new compositions with the Concert Band of the German Armed Forces.  While rock bands performing and recording with non-rock organizations is anything but out of the ordinary nowadays, the fact that the entire record is composed of new songs is itself interesting.  The arrangements that make up the album’s body offer audiences plenty to appreciate, as do the lyrical themes that accompany that musical content.  Each item will be addressed in itself here.  When they are considered with the record’s sequencing, all three elements make the album in whole a truly unique presentation that rock and metal fans alike will appreciate.

U.D.O.’s latest album We Are 1 is an impressive new entry from the veteran rock band.  There is no doubt in listening through the 75-minute record, that it will resonate with rock and metal fans alike.  That is due in part to the album’s musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question are full-on rock meets classical compositions that bear their own unique identity separate from the works that acts, such as Metallica and KISS have crafted.  These new, original works are such unique orchestrations.  One actually could argue that they are stylistically more similar to works from Devin Townsend’s latest album Empath (2019).  That comparison stems from the use of the choral element, the strings, the brass and woodwinds together.  Each arrangement sounds so epic even in a more reserved moment, such as in ‘Blindfold (The Last Defender).’  Now not having liner notes to reference, it is not known who the female vocalist is in this song, but her vocals, along with the bells, drums and harp make this song feel cinematic in its own right, especially with all of the attention to the dynamic changes throughout the song.  ‘Blackout’ — which immediately follows ‘Blindfold (The Last Defender)’ — is another example of how powerful the arrangements are in this record.  This nearly three-minute song’s brass and percussion come together to make the song sound like something that would be a perfect fit in the soundtrack for some military movie from the 80s and 90s.  That huge opening that leads into the immediate softer, more contemplative sound, is so powerful especially as that noted softer sound crescendos back into something more constant throughout the rest of the song.  On yet another hand, the use of the bagpipes, tympani, snare drum and standard rock elements come together in ‘Beyond Gravity’ to make this song yet another notable addition to the album that shows in its own right, why these arrangements are so important to examine.  There’s no attempt here to rip off AC/DC or any other band that uses bagpipes.  There’s not even any attempt to copy any other act.  It is its own unique presentation that is certain to become a favorite on record and in a live setting when and if music can ever go live again.  It’s just one more way in which the album’s musical arrangements prove so important to its general presentation.  When it and the rest of the album’s arrangements are considered together, the album’s diverse musical styles and elements collectively build a strong foundation for the LP’s presentation.  In themselves, they make a clear argument as to why this record is one of the year’s top new rock albums.  It might not even be a stretch to call it potentially one of the year’s top new overall albums if only for its musical aspect.  Of course the musical aspect is just one reason to take in this record.  The album’s lyrical content adds to its appeal.

The lyrical content featured in We Are 1 runs through one general topic, that topic being concerns about the state of the world.  Band founder and namesake Udo Dirkschneider talked about that overarching theme in a recent interview.  He said of the album’s general theme, “We all live on this planet.  No matter who we are or what we do, we all just have this one planet.  There is no planet B.  When I see the pictures of all the plastic in our oceans and when I hear about the next climate catastrophe in the news, I really start wondering how respectless and irresponsible we sometimes are.  It’s not just about us.  It’s also about all the others and last but not least, about our children!”  That concern that he voiced in the noted comments is shown throughout this record in a variety of fashions.  ‘Here We Go Again,’ for instance takes on concerns over how the Trump administration has handled the issue of immigration.  Dirkschneider notes in this blues rock based song’s lyrical side, “Who has got the right to decide/Who’s gonna live and who’s gonna die/People on the street and people on the sea/Always on the run/Trying to be free/People on the left/People on the right/Everywhere you look/Uptight/Living in a cell/Living in a cage/Fairy tale is over…Everybody’s…longing for a new way/Everybody’s got the right/turning darkness into light/here we go again…Time to show again.”  From here, the song makes mention of corrupt elections and trump’s cries of “fake news” every time that legitimate news agencies call BS on his lies in the song’s second verse.  Given, this is hardly the first time that any musical act has taken on the corruption of the Trump administration and Trump himself, but it is still approached in a unique fashion here that is certain to keep listeners engaged.  It is just one of the ways in which the album’s lyrical themes prove pivotal in their own right to the album.  The album’s title track, which comes early in its run, is clearly another way in which the record’s lyrics show their importance.

‘We Are One’ is a call for unity.  Again, referencing Dirkschneider’s noted statements, the song’s lyrical theme makes crystal clear sense.  He, his band mates and the choir that joins them sings in the song’s chorus, “What are we waiting for/Before we lose control/We are one/We are free/And we need a place to be/We are one/We will rise/Gonna be no compromise/We are one/We are free/And we need a place to be/We are one/We will rise/Never be a compromise.”  This comes after Dirkschneider makes note in the song’s lead verse, of people dealing with all the negativity that is on television nowadays and the impact thereof.  He continues the commentary in similar fashion in the song’s second verse, asking “Do you enjoy watching people die?” before reminding listeners again that “We are one.”  It’s that call to unity and action that is just as needed and welcome today as ever, and just one more way in which the album’s lyrical themes prove so pivotal to this album.  ‘Rebel Town’ is yet another example of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes.

The lyrical theme at the center of ‘Rebel Town’ is a celebration of the 30th anniversary of East and West Germany’s unification.  The song makes mention here of revolution and people sacrificing, and indirectly of people tearing down the Berlin Wall.  Dirkschneider even goes so far as to state at one point, “Chase away the leaders/Let them rot in hell/Believe in what you’re fighting for/Let them hear the rebel yell.”  This is that call again, this time about people coming together to remove the barrier between the two Germanies “in this little town.”  The use of the horns and overall orchestral elements here really paints such a vivid picture of that key moment in history.  This is unique if not original in terms of songs’ lyrical themes from one to the next.  This critic in particular is hard-pressed to find another band that has ever written a song about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the unification of Germany.  Keeping that in mind, the song is yet another example of what makes the album’s lyrical content so important to its whole.  When it is considered along with the other noted themes and those in the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of the album’s lyrical content works with the album’s musical content to make the LP’s body overall such that it will guarantee listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  Even with all of this in mind, there is still one more item to note in examining the album’s presentation – its sequencing.

The sequencing of We Are 1 is important to note because it displays the time and thought that went into maintaining the album’s energy throughout.  Seventy-five minutes is a long span.  Given it isn’t the length of a full concert, but it is still a long run time for a standard studio recording.  To that end, the sequencing plays a key part in ensuring listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  The album opens just as strongly as it closes and vice versa.  In-between, the energy rises and falls at all of the right points from one to the next and even within each of the songs.  Some of the songs start, stay and end strong while others, such as ‘Love and Sin’ and ‘Children of the World’ open with a semi-mysterious tone before launching into a full-on cinematic approach that is a fit for any epic blockbuster’s soundtrack.  ‘Blindfold (The Last Defender)’ and ‘Blackout’ serve as solid break points for the album’s sequence, giving listeners something soft, and then fully orchestra in the vein of movie soundtrack composer Hans Zimmer before the album returns to its initial approach.  ‘Natural Forces,’ which comes late in the album’s run, is another good break point, giving listeners more of the Hans Zimmer style presentation.  From here on out, the album’s energy switches direction, rises and falls at all of the right moments, ensuring just as much as ever, listeners’ engagement and entertainment right to the album’s end.  When all of this is considered along with the impact of We Are 1’s musical and lyrical content overall, all three elements come together to make this album a truly outstanding offering from U.D.O. that will appeal not only to rock and metal aficionados but to music lovers in general.

U.D.O.’s latest full-length studio recording We Are 1 is one of the most pleasant musical surprises of 2020 so far.  While it features a rock band working with an orchestra, it can’t be compared to those rock-meets-classical records from the likes of Metallica and KISS by any means or any other band that has taken this approach.  This collection of new songs really is its own, unique presentation that shows more similarities to works from Devin Townsend, composer Hans Zimmer, Epica, Judas Priest and even Joe Satriani (yes, that seems like an odd mix, but it works) than to the noted other acts’ works.  What’s more, the socially conscious lyrical themes that accompany the musical arrangements solidify the album’s presentation even more.  The record’s  sequencing puts the final touch to the album’s presentation.  Each noted item is important in its own way to the LP’s presentation.  All things considered, they make this record not only one of the year’s best new rock and hard rock albums, but potentially one of the year’s best new overall albums.  We Are 1 is scheduled for release Friday through AFM Records.  More information on the album is available along with all of U.D.O.’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.udo-online.de

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/udoonline

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Anvil To Perform Live Online This Weekend

Courtesy: Asher Media Relations

Veteran rock band Anvil will perform live digitally this weekend.

The band will hold a live streaming performance at 5 p.m. EDT Saturday.  The performance, which is in support of the band’s latest album Legal At Last (2020), is produced by District 7 Production and L’Anti Bar & Spectacles.  Legal At Last is a celebration of the legalization of recreational cannabis use in the band’s home nation of Canada.

The stream will run at 10 p.m. (UK) and 11 p.m. (Central European Time) Saturday.  Audiences in Japan in Australia will get to see the stream at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. respectively on Sunday.

Tickets for this weekend’s streaming shows are available here.  The show will stream here.

The concert’s organizers had the following to say about the event in a collective statement:

“I was wondering how to make L’Anti Bar & Spectacles live again in the midst of a health crisis,” the statement reads.  “I’ve been presenting virtual live shows with a ticket office since May 9. The first shows were appreciated by the spectators, we sold hundreds of tickets across Canada and in Europe during our first virtual shows. I wanted to present the first virtual metal show in Canada. I thought Anvil would be the perfect band for this show. I have an excellent relationship with them; the members of Anvil accepted without hesitation. Spectators should expect a virtual show with impeccable production quality in terms of sound, image, and lighting.”

More information on Anvil’s upcoming live stream show is available at:

 

Websitehttp://my.tbaytel.net/tgallo/anvil/

 

Facebook: http://twitter.com/anvilmetal

Twitter: http://twitter.com/AnvilMetal666

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

 

‘Firewind’ Shows The “Fire” Still Burns Bright Each Firewind’s Members

Courtesy: AFM Records

Veteran hard rock band Firewind has been entertaining audiences for more than two decades with its own brand of hard rock and power metal.  The band, founded by famed guitarist Gus G. has released eight albums, all of which have helped to earn the band legions of fans the world over.  That is even with what seems like constant lineup changes throughout the course of its nearly 25 year life.  Now with the forthcoming release of its ninth album Friday, the band’s success will continue even longer.  The self-titled release is a work that will appeal to the band’s longtime fans just as much as old school hard rock and metal fans in general.  That is proven in part through the record’s musical arrangements, which will be addressed more at length shortly.  The sequencing of the arrangements adds even more impact to this record.  It will be discussed a little later.  The record’s production rounds out its most important elements, and will be discussed later, too.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the album.  All things considered, they make Firewind without argument, one of the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums.

Firewind’s new forthcoming elf-titled album – its ninth album to date – is a powerful new offering from the veteran hard rock/power metal outfit.  It is one of those rare records that would make it so easy for audiences to take in from start to finish without skipping even one song.  From beginning to end, audiences are taken back to Firewind’s early days while also giving audiences plenty of hints of more modern work and mixing in influences from the likes of Judas Priest and others along the way.  Gus G. puts his full range of talent on display throughout the album, putting out riffs that are precise and cutting from one song to the next, and solos that few other guitarists could rival.  New front man Herbie Langhans’ vocal delivery is so full of its own fire (pardon the pun), adding even more to the impact of the album’s arrangements.  Johan Nunez’s time keeping is solid in its own right throughout the record, while also adding in just the right number and kind of flares with the cymbal crashes and fills.  Bassist Petros Christodoulidis’ work couples with Gus G’s melodies to create some very rich harmonies in each song.  Even as the album reaches the ballad that makes up its midpoint – ‘Longing To Know You’ — each musician’s talent is just as much on display as ever, proving the group can do more than just play fast and loud.  The string arrangement incorporated into the overall work adds to that song’s impact in the bigger picture of the album.  Between that “reserved” moment and the record’s higher-energy moments, the record in whole is to be applauded if only for the musical arrangements that display so much talent from the band members and that offer so much engagement and entertainment.  Luckily, the arrangements are just one part of what makes this record such a hard-hitting new presentation from Firewind.  The record’s sequencing strengthens the band’s new record even more.

Firewind’s sequencing is important to address because of its own ability to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  Over the course of the 47-minute record, audiences will note that it is comprised of three very distinct segments.  The first segment runs from the opener up until the aforementioned ballad that serves as a break point of sorts for the album.  That break point is the album’s second segment.  It immediately gives way to the song’s third segment, whose energy is just as powerful as that in the album’s first segment.  What is so interesting to note in examining all three of the record’s segments is that in the first and third segments, the energies remain extremely high.  It doesn’t lift at any point in either segment.  From the album’s opener – ‘Welcome to the Empire’ – right up to ‘Orbitual Sunrise,’ the energy never lets up at all.  What does change is the stylistic approach and lyrical content within each song.  So it’s not like the album gradually decreases its energy as it reaches its midpoint.  Rather, that midpoint is just a brief moment that allows listeners to catch their breath, and it is just brief enough, as the record’s energy picks right back up in ‘Perfect Strangers.’  The band keeps listeners pumping their fists and putting their horns up high from that point right to the album’s end.  Simply put, the album’s sequencing shows it has two settings – high and low.  There is no middle ground.  The closest that the album comes to that middle ground even begins to come is in ‘Overdrive,’ which comes immediately after ‘Perfect Strangers.’  Even as the energy in the song is slightly pulled back, the song is still heavy in its own right, providing just the briefest break in the album’s energy while keeping things moving forward.  Again, the short and simple here is that the album’s sequencing of the songs does just as much as the songs themselves to keep listeners engaged and entertained.  Those responsible for the sequencing are to be commended in their own right for their work.  Between the constantly changing of stylistic approaches in the songs to the stable energy throughout, the sequencing clearly plays its own crucial role to the whole of the album.  It still is not the last of the record’s most important elements.  He record’s overall production and mixing puts the finishing touch to its presentation.

The production and mixing are key to the record’s presentation because if not for that work, the songs would have been little more than a bunch of masses of metal noise.  Instead, audiences get such clear balance between each musician’s part in each song.  The result is 11 songs that each stand on their own musical merits.  The rapid fire work that is ‘Devour’ is a prime example of the payoff of that attention to detail.  Gus G.’s machine gun-fast shredding is a powerhouse to say the absolute least.  Had that been allowed to take center stage, none of his band mates would have had the opportunity to shine.  Luckily, that didn’t happen.  Nunez gets the chance to display his expert ability behind the kit.  Langhans’ powerhouse operatic vocal ability also gets to shine, thanks to the production here, while Christodoulidis’ low end is added just subtly enough, fleshing out the arrangement even more.  ‘Longing To Know You’ is another example of the importance of the record’s production and mixing.  The keyboard line in here serves as the song’s center point, ad shines so well against the drums, bass and even the guitar, which get their own attention, but keep their place as “supporting lines” here.  Everything is handled so well here that the overall impact is a deeply moving work.  ‘Space Cowboy’ is another example of the importance of the record’s production and mixing.  There is a lot going on here, between the drums, the vocals, the guitars and vocals.  It’s not the full on fist pumper that much of the record’s other work is, but there is still much happening.  Gus G and Langhans seem like they are competing for the limelight, but in reality, the two work together so well.  He gets his moment in the solos while Christodoulidis provides the primary support in the verses.  For everything that is going on here, the whole comes together quite well to make this a mainstream style work that audiences will enjoy just as much as the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s works.  Keeping all of this in mind, the album’s production and mixing and its impact on the album’s general effect plays its own crucial role to the whole of Firewind.  When it is considered along with the record’s songs and their sequencing, the whole of these elements makes Firewind a presentation that every hard rock and metal purist will agree is deserving of being called one of this year’s top new titles in said categories.

Firewind’s ninth new album is a work that shows this band still has quite a fire under its collective backside.  That is proven in part through the songs that make up the album’s body.  They will keep listeners engaged and entertained in their own right.  The sequencing of those songs adds even more power to the record, as they keep the record’s energy stable while switching up the songs’ stylistic approaches from one to the next.  The production and mixing that went into the record rounds out its most important elements, as it ensures each of the band members gets his own moment in the limelight throughout the record’s body.  All three noted items are important in their own way to the whole of this album.  All things considered, they make Firewind one of the year’s top new hard rock and metal albums.  It will be available Friday.  More information on the album is available online along with the album’s latest news at:

 

 

 

Website: http://www.firewind.gr

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/firewindofficial

Twitter: http://twitter.com/firewindmusic

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.