Under a Dark Sky is the latest release from legendary guitarist Uli Jon Roth. The former Scorpions axe-master takes his Sky guitar to new heights of classical/prog/metal mayhem here, creating a very interesting album that will take a few listens to really appreciate, but over time will prove to be quite rewarding.
While there are a host of guest musicians & vocalists joining Uli here, the most notable is former Yngwie Malmsteen, Ring of Fire, and current Royal Hunt belter Mark Boals, who appears on five tracks here, and really does a fine job. After the grandiose opener "S.O.S.", Boals and his powerful pipes lets the listener know he means business on the following songs "Tempus Fugit" and "Land of Dawn", the latter featuring a great duet between himself and Liz Vandall. Roth makes his presence known on this one as well, dropping in some of his trademark fills and crying solos. Up to this point, it's mostly a mix of classical and prog, with plenty of vocals, choirs, and the Sky Orchestra. The guitarist kicks into some funky, Hendrix inspired riffs on the rocking "The Magic Word", Boals and Vandall once again trading off on vocals, Mark really putting on a show on this one, eventually giving way to some wild wah-wah guitar explorations from Roth.
It's all Uli on the intro to the stunning "Inquisition", as he blisters with some jaw-dropping arpeggios before the song segues into the operatic rocker "Letter Of The Law ", featuring layers of vocals from the Sky Choir and Boals' leather lungs. "Stay in the Light" is an uptempo symphonic rocker, once again highlighted by powerful vocals and some tasty guitar harmonies, while "Benediction" is a gorgeous solo from Roth, showing not only his technique but his taste as well. This one leads into the Blackmore's Night-ish "Light & Shadows", a song that lets Vandall & Gwen Adams really shine on vocals. You are then led into the 12-movement "Tanz In Die Dämmerung", a real tour-de-force of classical/opera/prog styles, and the piece that probably best encompasses what Roth is trying to do here with this Sky of Avalon project. A long suite made up of many movements, this one goes through many costume changes, as bombastic orchestral passages give way to ripping Roth guitar excursions, to symphonic sections featuring plenty of vocals.
If you are expecting non-stop Uli Jon Roth guitar heroics, then you'd better look elsewhere. While there is plenty of tasty playing from the former Scorp, this is a much more majestic & orchestral affair, and one that really needs to be sat down with and digested as a whole work. Give Uli credit for coming up with something this grandiose, a true work of art that probably has much more appeal to the prog rock audience than his hard rock & metal followers.
2. Tempus Fugit
3. Land Of Dawn Techno Man / Land Of Dawn / Lion Wings
4. The Magic Word
6. Letter Of The Law
7. Stay In The Light
9. Light & Shadows
10. Tanz In Die Dämmerung - Destination Twilight / Morgenrot / Searchlights From Hell / Seelenschmerz / Inside The Titanic / Fama Errat / Requiem For The Nations / Morituri / Rex Tremendae / Star Peace / Tanz In Die Dämmerung / Silence