A good addition to the Heep catalogue and one fans of the band should enjoy.
Uriah Heep belongs to that plethora of British metal and rock bands that came out in the glory days of the 60s and 70s. With a career that has spanned some 23 albums, ever changing line-ups and multiple sounds, Heep are one of rocks great survivors. The band started out in 1970 with the heavy rocking album 'Very 'eavy ...Very 'umble' but their sound was soon to change. A more progressive rock sound with lyrics buried firmly in the fantasy world and more complex compositions soon followed. Throughout this period the line up change many times and it wasn’t until 1980 that the sound began to revert back to the hard rock sound originally promised.
With the exception of Lee Kurslake who had to be replaced due to ill health in 2007 by Russell Gilbrook, the line up has remained unchanged since 1986. Gilbrook is joined by Bernie Shaw (vocals), Phil Lanzon (keys), Trevor Bolder (bass) and Mick Box (guitar) to complete the current Heep line up. The band continue to tour constantly having played some 53 countries and 250 regular dates annually, but have still found time to record and release their latest and 24th album "Into The Wild" with Frontiers records.
The new album is very much ingrained with that 70s Hammond organ classic rock sound. This by no means sums up every track but certainly the majority. The album is book-ended by two more modern sounding tracks which sandwich a majority of classic rockers. Some tracks such as 'Trail Of Diamonds' and 'I’m Ready' lend themselves to a very Purplesque comparison. There are certainly a couple of tracks on the album that could make their way into the Heep concert repertoire including 'I Can See You' which is a singable, catchy number. The album also boasts a couple of tracks where the band clearly try to stretch themselves and add a little something more to the album other than straight up guitar driven hard rock. That said, with the likes of Believe there is still plenty of that on offer. And it seems they still found time to have a little fun with one of the later tracks, 'T Bird Angel'. This is the happy, bouncy track that musically gives a nod not only to that 70s sound but also to 80s hair metal in its guitar solo. One for the air guitarists without doubt and would not be out of place on any GuitarHero game.
This is one of those albums that neither sets the world alight nor crashes and burns. It is one of those that lands firmly in the "Does what it says on the tin" camp. If you are a fan of that 70s classic organ-filled rock you will find everything you expect and enjoy. Purple, Rainbow and Magnum fans will all find something on here that will tickle their soft spots. However those that find nothing of interest in this style of rock will find nothing neither new nor unexpected here. This might be especially true of the younger generations who feel this is "dad rock". Whilst one of the more current sounding tracks like 'Nail On The Head' might prick some interest, the majority of the songs are rooted too firmly in the established sound to change an opinion.
On the production side, the album is well mastered and clearly put together. The drums and bass never over power the guitar and the keys are always clearly heard. Vocally, Shaw offers some nice variation and keeps the songs interesting. There is a distinct lack of any actual ballad, power or otherwise, which is a shame. Although the pace of the tracks varies a little, a complete drop of speed would have given the listener a chance to catch their breath. It would also have allowed the band to showcase more of their talent with a complete change of direction for a song. The band's ability to slow things down is hinted at in 'Diamonds', but all too briefly.
This album is a good addition to the Heep catalogue and one fans of the band should enjoy. Those that love their rock classically sounding will also find plenty to appreciate, especially those that still think incorrectly of Heep being rooted firmly in the Progressive Rock bracket.