Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Uli Jon Roth-Under a dark sky


As I scanned the back of the CD case before listening to this disc my eyes took in the listing of ten tracks and then one of those was broken down into three chapters and the final track was broken down in no less than a dozen chapters or parts. Suddenly I felt like I did back in college when my professor plopped down copies of Moby Dick on every one’s desk and informed us that we had four days to read it and write a ten page paper. Yes, I was expecting to be a bit overwhelmed by this album just due to the number of tracks and the number of musicians contributing as well. I am most familiar with Roth for his time with the Scorpions back in the 1970’s, but now he plays a rather neo-classical style. There are a number of people contributing to this album including vocals from Mark Boals, currently of Royal Hunt, and Liz Vandall, ex Sahara. Roth plays all guitars, bass and keyboards on his creation. I am sure that the attention here was to build moods and no doubt there are some definite ideas behind this release. Listening to this album would be kind of like doing a long dot to dot puzzle but finding out in the end that it doesn’t really form a picture. The vocals and orchestral and choir parts do a great deal of floating and wandering around yet they never quite contribute enough to really construct anything very definite to latch on to. Much of this album just swirls about with sounds coming and going although it’s very light and spacey at times with far more fog than substance. At times I wasn’t sure if I was listening to many songs or just one long, giant track that was going to meander on forever. Now Uli Jon Roth does tip in with some guitar passages of course and some are quite stunning because he far more about tones and feeling than about flash and dash. Yet the length and format of this album sets it up to be a huge creation and what’s really inside is a lot fluff and go around with only a few assorted moments that really accomplish much. I can appreciate having grand ideas, but you should only do so if you plan or seeing through the entire project and to me this album just a bit too thin and long-winded for my liking.

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Blogger rock_of_ages said...

We seem to agree on this one Mark!


4:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uli John Roth writes history once again with this new album!

I would not carry a gun if I couldn't handle it and I wouldn't either write a review about something I'm not interesting to learn to understand.
This album is a true Masterpiece but it took me at least 10 listenings to get a grip about it.
And funnily when You once learnt it, You'll suddenly see that it wasn't that complished as You thought at beginning. And it will grow for each listening. Some titles on the album are worth the price of the whole cd, as for example Land of Dawn, absolutely brilliant !!
Buy this cd, turn of Your mobile and put on your headphones. Prepare for the best music released in a very long time, if ever !!


1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Peter. I actually saw the band three times live before I listened to the album so I knew where the songs were going and how complex and powerful they are. Definitely one of the best cd's I have ever listened to.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised also that the main review on this page seems to be by a person that doesn't know or care to know much about music. Under a Dark Sky doesn't "meander" or "float", it's a remarkably cohesive work. It just requires someone that looks for more than just a heavy beat, or fashionable apparel, in music. No offense.

9:18 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

anonymous 1- "I wouldn't either write a review about something I'm not interesting to learn to understand."
That line just flows along about as nicely as this album. I gave this album a chance and it actually became more boring with each play. Roth can play. I already knew that, but the arrangements are the main problem. The direction is not there. It's plain and simple. That's great that you got into this, but it didn't happen for me.

anonymous 2-I can't imagine standing through this live, but I apprciate you chiming in.

anonymous 3-I can appreciate the above reviews. However you choose to attack me in line 1. Give a weak defense of your own views on line 2. Try to insult me again on line 3. Then put forth a pathetic line at the end to try to make yourself feel not so bad for getting upset at someone that had a view different from your own.

If you like an album. That's fine, but give some reasons like the posters above. Trying to rip the reviewer is lame. You used broad terms about my motivation because you just can't deal with it. Grow up and wise up, but thanks for adding to my hit count.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like some of your other writings just fine, Mark, but you would have been better off just admitting that you don't understand this album.

From a musical composition standpoint, this album is one of the best Rock releases of the past 15 years. Roth has completely integrated the orchestra and operatic voices into his guitar based music.

This album makes Yngwie and the rest of the legions of heartless shred heads sound like unmusical trash. It makes Yngwie and Metallica's attempts at "orchestrating" their music look like Prehistoric fumbling.

Maybe I hear things differently because I'm a musician. To my ears, only the beginning collage could possibly be a bit confusing, the rest of this album is quite cohesive, though again highly advanced from a compositional perspective. After a couple of listens, it should have clicked for you. Or maybe you just want to stick to your original review at any cost, which is even worse.

Easily one of the best, and most important releases in the history of the Progressive Rock genre. Listen again, and this time forget your review. Really listen.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

"Mark, but you would have been better off just admitting that you don't understand this album."
Sorry not the case. I know what I hear and it dull. I even gave it a few plays to be sure and I was sure.

"After a couple of listens, it should have clicked for you."
Your opinion.

"Or maybe you just want to stick to your original review at any cost, which is even worse."
I am always willing to admit when I am wrong on a judgement and have done so on the is blog. I stick by my original judgement because I know it to be my current opinion and I believe in it.

"Listen again, and this time forget your review."
I may at some point just to be fair as I do with every CD I give a negative review too.

I respect your opinion, but do you respect opinions that differ from yours?
You seem to be thinking you are right and all others are not getting it or it is over everyone's head. You gave some reasons for liking it and that's great, but you could not get past making accusations towards those who disagree you.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a valid set of points, Mark. I probably was too opinionated and presumptuous. I guess music can have that effect on people. I apologize for that.

However, I fully stand by my earlier comments. Under a Dark Sky is a brilliant work of art. Maybe you did take a focused listen to it, and still didn't like it. I respect that. But the amount of time and inspiration that went into that cd is quite apparent to me. With this cd, Uli vaults up there with Blackmore, Schenker, and Beck, easily. In other words, up there with the best of the best, in my opinion.

Again, I concede to your opinion with respect, and apologies for being so presumptuous.

12:19 PM  

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