Scorpions’ Uli Jon Roth is not a fan of metal: “Metal actually didn’t really bring that much new”
“The speed is very often, like, totally over the top, and everything is hyper-distorted and hyper-aggressive, down to the last minute detail.”
Image: Neil Lupin / Getty Images
Scorpions guitar legend Uli Jon Roth has claimed that he’s “not a big fan of metal”, arguing that the genre is “a caricature of what it once was”.
Discussing heavy metal’s bluesy roots in a recent chat with BraveWords, Roth declared: “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,” the guitarist said. “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.”
Roth continued, “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.”
Arguing that such dynamics doesn’t exist in metal, he said, “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.”
Despite his lack of love for the genre, Roth went on to sing praises of bands like Iron Maiden — whom he considers more hard rock than heavy metal.
“But, then again, what is metal?” the musician said. “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.”