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Dirkschneider & the Old Gang - Arising Award winner

Dirkschneider & the Old Gang
by Kevin Lewis at 05 October 2021, 1:16 PM

DIRKSCHNEIDER & THE OLD GANG is exactly what old school Power Metal fans think it is, former ACCEPT and current U.D.O. front man Udo Dirkschneider and some of his favorite musicians. This is further proof that German metal is alive and kicking and still a creative force. Their debut EP, Arising, released on August 27, 2021, via AFM Records.

First, the bad news. There are only three songs on this EP. The good news is that you can listen to it over and over, on loop, without getting tired of it, so there seems to be more than just three songs. The songs are layered with guitars, three vocalists and a killer rhythm section. There is a lot to unpack in each tune. You have to listen to them a lot just to make sure you catch everything they manage to put in each offering.

Face Of A Stranger” kicks the disc off. There is a single guitar and a keyboard to open, then the drums start, then the song really begins. Udo sings first and there is just no mistaking his voice. Peter Baltes comes in next, then Manuela Bibert finishes out the first verse. They harmonize through the chorus. The guitars are melodic and eloquent. The bass is subdued and an absolute metronome for the band. The drums are more complex, not just a track for the guitar riff. The guitar interplay is playful with classical influences.

Every Heart Is Burning” comes next. The guitar riff is more straight-forward, power metal based. The bass and drums are more in sync at the opening of this song. Again, there are the tradeoff vocals in the verses, though there are also harmonies heard prior to the chorus this time. They continue through the chorus, then separate back out. There are additional vocalizations in the between verses. The differences in the vocal styles and sounds are a pretty stark contrast.

Where The Angels Fly” starts with a Spanish guitar. Once the electric guitar kicks in, the melody is gentle and subdued through the first verses, then starts to escalate leading into the first chorus. The guitar work is again somewhat classical in sound and feel. The rhythm is solid. The bass and drums don’t just hang out under the guitars, they build a sonic pedestal for them stand upon. Again, the vocals are a wonder to behold.

Manuela Bibert is the pleasant surprise on this record. Peter Baltes is an interesting contrast to Udo’s gruff natural voice, but Manuela is something altogether different. Her ability to drop lower or soar above them both adds something intangible. She softens the tone enough to really make a difference. The music is heavy, but not the hardest I’ve heard from the various incarnations over Udo’s storied career. This is the melodic end of power metal and is a really good listen.

The instruments that wrap around the vocals are so well done. The guitars move through classical passages, then rock with abandon. The bass and drums ebb and flow, lifting the guitars and the voices, then enter the fray and move to the forefront when necessary. This is a new sound, yet familiar. This band doesn’t stray far from their power metal base, but they do move to a more melodic tempo and tone. It works well and fits the vocals incredibly well. One can only hope that these are only the first three of many songs they will grace us with.

Songwriting:  9
Musicianship:  10
Memorability:  9
Production:  9

4 Star Rating

1. Face of A Stranger
2. Every Heart Is Burning
3. Where the Angels Fly
Udo Dirkschneider – Vocals
Manuela Bibert – Vocals
Peter Baltes – Bass/Vocals
Sven Dirkschneider – Drums
Stefan Kaufmann – Guitar
Mathias Dieth – Guitar
Record Label: AFM Records


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