Uli Jon Roth – Under a Dark Sky

rothUli Jon Roth is best known as former guitarist for the German heavy metal band Scorpions from 1974-77. Obvious details aside, Under a Dark Sky is Roth’s sixth solo release and his thirteenth including his work with other bands. This album is mostly a mixture between mid-’70s pop and progressive metal sensibilities mixed with well-orchestrated symphonic passages. Roth attempts to convey a sense of grandiose by melding the emotional wail of arena rock with neo-classical guitar acrobatics and stirring symphonic backdrops. While the classical instrumentation is carefully executed, well-produced, and effective in creating an epic landscape, the more pop-influenced passages can come off as dated plastic. As “The Magic Word” morphs into a biting guitar riff and dramatic stops, the operatic wails are ill-placed, badly executed and naively produced. One can actually hear the vocalist back away from the microphone as he sings. At times stirring and effective, Under a Dark Sky is altogether abrupt in its conception and transitions and it fails to conjure the same revelatory imagery that the album cover exhibits. (SPV GmbH Records, www.spv.de) Dustin Danyluk