Into The Wild
Heavy Metal/Hard Rock
April 15th 2011
There is something simple and reassuring about a new album by Uriah Heep, they may not be the newest ‘hypercar’ on the block, but like Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes or BMW, you are assured of build quality, class, style, and unfettered reliability...they are luxury cruisers...not circuit day racers! Well much like the aforementioned quality ‘marques’, Mick Box and co are back with yet another fine model for your aural delectation. Okay, so enough with the automotive allegories...
It’s little wonder that UH make it look and sound so very easy, as four of the five current members have been together since the early 1980’s - Mr B (obviously), Trevor Bolder (bass guitars), Phil Lanzon (keyboards), and the inimitable vocalist Bernie Shaw, with ‘newbie’ drummer Russell Bilbrook ‘only’ replacing Lee Kerslake four years ago now. The chemistry is undeniable, so few other bands can make it look and sound so very easy, so languid, so effortless, and so uniquely themselves...as let’s face it, no-one anywhere else sounds remotely like the ‘Heep!
So here we are, album number 23, and (in my opinion), the band has never sounded better. I’m going to commit heresy now, but i never ‘got’ the band until first John Sloman, then Pete Goalby took the vocal ‘reins’. The first ‘Heep album i truly loved was “Abominog”, and I was never a fan of early ‘heep, absolutely hating David Byron’s era, and totally believe that Bernie Shaw was a Gods send to the band. I was already a huge fan of his work in Praying Mantis – his wonderful voice and commanding presence has given the ‘Heep a whole new level of assured confidence ever since his studio debut on “Raging Silence” back in ’86! Here Bernie sounds beautifully soulful, the Canadian wizard (bad pun i know) vocally swooping and soaring with consummate ease!
As much of a cliché as it sounds, there is no ‘weakest link’ here, the eleven songs offered here are all uniformly excellent. Mick’s fretwork is classy and majestic, i’m as guilty as the next person of forgetting what an accomplished guitarist he is, his lead -work here is a delight, he proves time and again what a sublime ‘axeman’ he is...i think one day we’ll all finally ‘get’ just how special he is, i just hope it’s soon, so he gets to be honoured in his own lifetime! The rhythm team of messrs Bolder and Gilbrook are elegantly tight, providing a lock tight backdrop, to which keyboardist Phil Lanzon adds swathes of depth, texture, and colour, enriching ‘Heep’s sound immeasurably.
This uniquely British (and Canadian of course) band are in vintage form here, releasing an album that i feel has something for everyone. To highlight certain songs for extra praise seems almost churlish, but if pushed, i’d direct you to opening salvo “Nail On The Head”, and “I Can See You”, then to “Trail Of diamonds”, “Believe” and finally the album coda “Kiss Of Freedom”, these songs representing a wonderful cross-section of Uriah Heep at their stand alone finest... This is a simply lovely album, whether you’re a ‘Heep purist or a total ‘newbie’...come taste the band...you will be left sated and very happy. Job done guys...nice one!
Satanic "Wild Boy" Muttley