ULI JON ROTH – Under A Dark Sky

ULI JON ROTH - Under A Dark Sky
  • 9/10
    ULI JON ROTH - Under A Dark Sky - 9/10


Bad Land Records
Release date: September 26, 2008

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Uli Jon Roth does not need an extensive introduction, as the certain widespread source of information on the Internet already lists a lot of helpful things. Within a review for his next album it is impossible to do him justice with regards to his career as guitarist of the German Metal icons The Scorpions, inventor of the Sky Guitar or any of his other artistic endeavors which include poems and painting. And that he inspired virtually legions of young guitar players and is considered one of the greatest Neo-classical guitar heroes is used as a base for this review.

“Under A Dark Sky” can only be judged adequately when one knows the background information. The album is nothing less then the synthesis of classical arrangements performed by Roth’s “Sky Orchestra” combined with Sky guitar and vocals, also taken from both worlds: classical and contemporary. A name dropping of the classical singers is surely quite useless, so we can concentrate on the Rock voices present of which several are known to many. First, there is Elizabeth Vandall, who fronted the band Sahara and recorded two excellent Melodic Rock albums; as a male voice we hear Mark Boals, who changes bands like others their underwear and can look back on collaborations with many bands, including Yngwie Malmsteen, Royal Hunt and Ring Of Fire.

In order to enjoy this album, one has to like classical music and epical compositions. If one leaves the room screaming when a Therion album is played or uses the orchestra-records of Deep Purple, Metallica, Scorpions and others as beer coasters, can stop reading now and do something more useful like request a song if a DJ is on. Also, if you like Metal mostly because it is straight and aggressive, this one is not for you.

Now, the sensitive souls are left, the ones who can be delighted by the elaborate compositions on “Under A Dark Sky”. Uli Jon Roth created a wonderful piece of music which picks up the thread left 10 years ago with Roth’s last album – not completely without friction, as the new compositions seem more mature, but he continues down the same road stylistically. And there is not very much Metal audible, rather Strauss, a bit of Mussorgsky, Grieg and Rock ’n’ Roll, and guitar melodies like we enjoy in Gary Moore’s “Parisienne Walkways” or Schenkers’s “Couvoisier Concerto”.

While the purely orchestral beginning builds up suspense, already in track two “Tempus Fugit” (Time Flies, what do you mean, you don’t know Latin?) an early highlight waits in which Roth plays his guitar in wondrous harmony with the classical instruments. While the vocals seem rather unnecessary, it all builds up towards the first outstanding piece on the album: the three parts of “Land Of Dawn”. True epos, exuberant sound collages and gripping melodies set the stage for the three main characters: Elizabeth, Mark and the Sky Guitar. On this album Mark can even silence the skeptics, and although many may have rather wished for Bob Catley, Ronnie James Dio, Pasi Rantanen or Jorn Lande, who would probably have made a great album even better, Boals does a good job.

Several good tracks follow, and although Uli picks up the microphone himself in “Letter Of The Law” and “Light And Shadows”, the best part of the work is still to come. “Tanz In Die Dämmerung” (Dance Into The Dawn) with its twelve parts is the fantastic, majestic finale and climax. Uli Roth shows one more time all his skills and lets Boals, his daughter Akasha Dawn Roth and tenor Peter Ewald draw the listener deep into this emotionally moving album, and even with a duration of nineteen minutes and its excessive arrangements the composition grips one constantly. Afterwards “Under A Dark Sky” leaves one emotionally exhausted but happy, in the tradition of “Peer Gynt Suite”, “Pictures At An Exhibition”, or “The Planets”.

As a summary, this album can be described with only one word, one that is not unconditionally applied to the musical style this site is dedicated to often, but in this case reflects the very essence of this opus… Beautiful!


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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