Late Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads is routinely hailed as a revolutionary guitar player in heavy metal, whose style helped define a standard for the genre as it rose to prominence in the '80s. Still, there are some who believe Rhoads was not the best guitar player even in the hallowed ranks of Ozzy's band and Necrophobic's Sebastian Ramstedt has called Jake E. Lee a "much better" guitarist.
Ramstedt, who was a member of the Swedish blackened death metal group from 1996 through 2011 and rejoined again in 2016, spoke with Micha Kite of V13 Media about Necrophobic's latest release, 2020's Dawn of the Damned.
The band's sound expands beyond black and death metal tropes, enveloping elements of goth rock/metal and defiantly catchy guitar melodies, which brought the conversation to the standout heavy artists of the '80s and prompted the Necrophobic guitarist to offer his opinion on his favorite Ozzy guitarist.
Not surprisingly, Ramstedt mostly rejected glam, stating, "In the '80s, I hated all hair metal except for early Motley Crue and W.A.S.P. You would watch '80s MTV, and there would be Cinderella, but you were waiting for Sepultura, and you hated it."
Now, his stance isn't as dug in, as he continued, "But I don't have my guard up like that anymore, and those bands have very good guitar players. It takes a lot to write a great love song or an '80s metal song."
As for who directly influenced his playing at the time, Ramstedt, who also played on Swedish black metal group Nifelheim's 2007 album, Envoy of Lucifer, noted, "The greatest guitar players at that time for me were Eddie Van Halen [Van Halen], George Lynch [Dokken], Warren DeMartini [Ratt], and so on. But Jake E. Lee was my favorite, and his work on Bark At The Moon and The Ultimate Sin is the ultimate lead guitar work ever."
Cognizant of the controversy surrounding his opinion, the Necrophobic axeman offered, "I think Jake E. Lee is much better than Randy Rhoads, and you can't say that out loud, but I believe that."
Lee joined the Ozzy Osbourne band in 1983 as the permanent successor to Rhoads, who died on March 19, 1982 in a tragic plane accident. Prior to his instatement, Both Brad Gillis and Bernie Tormé substituted on a live basis as Ozzy finished up his tour in support of 1981's Diary of a Madman. Lee was later replaced by Zakk Wylde in 1987 after a tumultuous exit.
Speaking to the appeal of Lynch, Ramstedt beamed, "Other guitarists like George Lynch, who wasn't always heavy, had more fun in major keys, and they used the guitars in an unlimited way, which I admire. They didn't have to do fast songs or slow songs, evil songs or happy songs; they could do whatever they liked. If you only use one mode, like the gothic mode, it's very narrow what you can do with your music."
Lee currently serves as a live guitarist in the controversial group The Mentors (under the alias 'Licks Muffstuff') and last released the album Petina with his band Red Dragon Cartel in 2018.