Words: Craig Hartranft
Someone once said that, "Heavy metal is classical music with electricity." Wait. That was me. Just now. So here we have U.D.O., more properly Udo Dirkschneider, the legendary gruff German metal vocalist and his band, performing some of their hits with a full orchestra, namely the Marinemusikkorps Nordsee. And so the album title Navy Metal Night, a DVD/2CD set. We'll consider the video recording alone.
Alright. A heavy metal band accompanied by an orchestra in a live performance is hardly new. We all remember the somewhat groundbreaking S & M. But, as far as I know, this is a first for Dirkschneider. And it's pretty darn terrific as it fits the U.D.O. sound, which can have an epic, melodic, and powerful sound at times. The symphonic orchestration merely brings this out, then embellishes it in the very best and grandiose sense. The band, the songs, sound more bold and immense with full orchestra. Additionally, even with his well-known raspy vocals, Udo always brings harmony and melody to his vocal arrangements. These are also enhanced by a significant nine voice choir, the Gospelchor Chocolate of Schorndorf. All these things make for a very power melodic heavy metal presentation.
The show may be about U.D.O., and it is, but the Marinemusikkorps Nordsee shines brightly as well. It begins with the instrumental of Das Boot arranged by Walter Ratzek, a smashing piece. Also, they perform the famous The Hall Of The Mountain King, nicely at that. Touching on the metal angle, they add a rich texture to the anthem Dancing With An Angel, with guest Doro Pesch. As an aside, it's interesting to watch the orchestra members during a song like Future Land or Animal Instinct. Some members sit still, while others bang their heads (though mildly) to the heavy metal.
Yet, of greater interest are two arrangements. One is Cut Me Out, turned from a heavy metal rocker to a big band jazz number (without the U.D.O. band, mind you), complete with a saxophone solo, a freaking awesome sax solog (which Udo barely acknowleges. German asshat). The other song is the following Train Ride In Russia, with it's wonderful start combining acoustic guitar with a large accordion, then moving into the bounce and rhythm of German beer hall polka music. How metal is that? Very. Hey, it's all good.
A few final words of commentary. Visually, the camera work is well done, though the framing of the concert is rather flat due to the small venue, mostly focused forward. Still, you're definitely given close views of both U.D.O. and Marinemusikkorps Nordsee members, a very nice touch. Also, it should be noted that everything said by Dirkschneider, outside of the songs, is in German. I know he's not doing this, but he could be telling me, while smiling, to "kiss my ass" and I would be none the wiser. But I doubt this album was done for his English speaking fans. Nevertheless, U.D.O. and the Marinemusikkorps Nordsee's Navy Metal Night is excellent: orchestrated heavy metal at its best and a whole lot of fun. Easily recommended.
U.D.O. and the Marinemusikkorps Nordsee's Navy Metal Night is excellent: orchestrated heavy metal at its best and a whole lot of fun. Easily recommended.
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