Scorpions Guitarist Uli Jon Roth Trashes Heavy Metal: “I Felt It Was, In a Way, a Step Back”
Despite the fact that every hesher with half a brain loves Scorpions, guitarist Uli Jon Roth doesn’t share the same love for the genre. In a new interview with BraveWords, the guitarist discussed the influence of the blues on his playing. When the interviewer pointed out that blues is the root of hard rock and heavy metal, Roth praised hard rock bands—specifically Deep Purple and Black Sabbath—while claiming that heavy metal didn’t bring things forward from there.
“There would be no heavy metal without bands like Cream and Led Zeppelin up front. But all of these are completely different from what metal is nowadays. They were a lot more daring, they were a lot more dangerous in the true sense of the word, because all that stuff had never been done before. It felt that way. I remember what it felt like to listen to Jimi Hendrix back then, it was revolutionary, the sound. Now, the metal of the ‘80s and ‘90s became a lot more corporate. It became – they used more aggression, louder, faster, whatever – thinking that this would make it more ‘dangerous’. But, to me, it isn’t. These other elements are more in the field of being creative and coming top with something really new. So, metal actually didn’t really bring that much new. I felt it was, in a way, a step back. Because all these bands like Cream, Hendrix, these trailblazers, Led Zeppelin… Of course, the Yardbirds very early on. But also then, later, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, they all had one thing in common, they were playing loud, wild – The Who – but extremely dynamical within that.”
Roth went on to explain that he feels heavy metal is just always going at a balls-to-the-wall pace with no room for nuance or space to breathe.
“Now, this dimension of dynamics, in metal it doesn’t exist. The foot is always, the pedal is, always at 120. Not at 110, at 120. The speed is very often, like, totally over the top, and everything is hyper distorted and hyper aggressive, down to the last minute detail. So, it’s almost like a caricature of what it once was, and that is what it sounds like to me. That’s why I’m not a fan of metal, never have been. But, then again, what is metal? Like, if I speak to Bruce Dickinson, for instance, and we had this discussion once. I said, ‘You’re not really metal, you’re a hard rock band’, and he completely agrees, you know? Because Maiden is still old-school. They still play with these dynamics. Yes, they play distorted, but they still have this old-school kind of organic touch, this organic feel, which you can touch with your hands almost. Metal always has an abrasive edge that I don’t like. So, that’s why I’m not a big fan of metal. Never have been, never will be. Are there good bands in metal? Of course there are. Are there some great pieces? Yes, of course there are, I don’t deny any of that. It’s just, most of it doesn’t speak to me.”
This is the first I’ve heard of Dickinson considering Iron Maiden to not be a metal band, but the Scorpions guitarist is set on his definition of metal.