ULI JON ROTH - Under A Dark Sky

Uli Jon Roth - Under A Dark Sky

10 songs
63:39 minutes
***** ***
Steamhammer / SPV


Uli Jon Roth is best known as having been Michael Schenker’s replacement in the Scorpions in the mid-Seventies. He left disgruntled with the more commercial direction the German hardrock institution was heading into. Ever since then, Roth has been something of a legend, inventing a six octave guitar, painting oil pictures, writing poetry but most of all composing scores that combined classical music with hard rock. Actually Uli Jon Roth was neo-classical before that term was even invented.

It’s been quite a long time since he came up with a regular album. Apart from classical adaptations, his last foray into rock music dates from the mid-Nineties. Now he’s back with Under A Dark Sky, an ambitious work he created with his Sky of Avalon project. Seventies hard rock music is enriched by real orchestration, choirs and opera soloists. The vocals are shared by Liz Vandall (ex-Sahara) and Mark Boals (ex-Yngwie Malmsteen, Royal Hunt), and it’s especially the latter who impresses the songs with his characteristic organ. The songs range from short instrumentals to long suites likes the eleven minute Land Of Dawn and the concluding twelve-parted Tanz in die Dämmerung (nineteen minutes), which is a tour de force of every possible symphonic rock idea. Roth is still a classy guitarist whose playing combines virtuosity and feeling in an unprecedented and inimitable way.

Of course there is also pathos, something probably inseparable from this idiosyncratic German artist. The question begs to be asked: is this art or overblown garbage? Were this some aspiring newcomer, I might opt for the latter, but I am convinced that Uli Jon Roth really believes in what he is creating, and that deserves respect. Compared to other recent albums by Seventies legends (Uriah Heep, for instance), Roth is still a master of his craft, and even three decades after leaving the Scorpions, he may be light years away from their fame, but at least he kept his artistic integrity. This is symphonic progressive hard rock at its purest.

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