Ulrich Roth is, along with Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore, the progenitor and pioneer of the movement to fuse Art Music with Heavy Metal/Hard Rock. The impact of his music is monumental: without Uli, there would have been no Randy Rhoads or Yngwie Malmsteen. As hard as that idea might be for the legions of Rhoads and Malmsteen clones, anyone taking a concentrated listen to any of the ’70’s Scorpions or early Electric Sun output would make the same judgement. One of the biggest differences between Uli and the Malmsteen/Rhoads factions is the fact that Roth has been more serious in integrating the distorted electric guitar into the orchestra, as opposed to writing Paganini-worshipping, lead guitar fixated “concertos” with silly orchestration. With this album, Roth has reached the peak of his compositional powers, incorporating most successfully operatic, chorale, intricate piano, and authentically symphonic variables into the Rock/Metal genre. No other artist or release has done this as effectively, up to this point in time. I should also mention that, from a purely lead guitar playing perspective, Uli’s overall tone, attack, and sense of dynamics has become at least equal to the best Rock/Metal players in history, such as Jeff Beck, Blackmore, Schenker, etc.
When I first bought this cd, I had to prepare myself for a listen that would be almost entirely non-Metallic. Once I got past that, I was floored by how advanced that Uli’s writing has become. He really is a legitimate composer that happens to play guitar, instead of a lead guitar player struggling to arrange heavy metal music for an orchestra. The guitar playing, like the first Sky of Avalon cd, comes in bursts for the most part, showing up at the best time to enchance the effect of it against the other instruments. He perfected the place of the guitar among the other orchestral instruments, unlike others whom just rewrote the cello cadenza parts for electric guitar.
I realize that alot of people here wouldn’t be wild about the arty nature of this cd: the choirs, the length, etc. The fact is, the great majority of folks don’t like to have to focus when they listen to a Rock/Metal cd, preferring to listen to the same song structures ad infinitum. For them, music is mostly entertainment, which of course is fine. But, as a musician and composer, I can’t help but declare my profound admiration for what Uli has accomplished here. I think this is by far the best Rock release in well over 10 years.
I have read where people compared this to the old ’70’s releases of ELP, King Crimson, etc. This doesn’t sound anything like those artists, in fact this sounds like something completely individual. That’s the highest compliment I can pay any work of art.
I give this an easy 5 out of 5. This is one of those cds I know I’ll get more out of each time I listen to it, and that is so rare for cds today.
I’m very grateful that this release exists: I find it tremendously inspiring and affirming. Most highly reccomended.