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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Uriah Heep

Into the Wild

Review by Gary Hill

Whenever someone reviews an album by a band like Uriah Heep with a rich back catalog, comparisons to that catalog are obvious. Generally, those comparisons, at least at Music Street Journal, are designed to inform fans of how the new music is similar and how it is different from the stuff they know. That, to my mind, is the true purpose of a review, explaining what something sounds like by comparing and contrasting it to something the reader has heard. In this particular case, though, with a few songs the movement away from the traditional Uriah Heep sound is a weakness. That’s not because the band is stretching out beyond their earlier territory. It’s because the direction they are taking it in (on one song toward pretty basic heavy metal and in another towards more pop oriented fare) is not as interesting as the traditional Heep sound. For most of the album, though, the band manage to pull the best of that classic sound and bring a modern sensibility to it. Isn’t that really what the growth of a band should be about, taking the strengths from the past and adding new elements to keep it fresh? Overall, this album should please long time fans of the band. It’s a great disc that has a couple tracks that fall short of that mark.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Nail On The Head

This pounds in with a crashing riff that’s very metal. As the vocals are added it’s closer to traditional Uriah Heep territory, but it’s only when the keyboards join on the chorus that it feels less like metal and more like Heep. While it may not be a traditional Uriah Heep sound, this thing rocks. The biggest problem, though, is it goes on a little too long with the chorus without having a lot of depth to it. It definitely suffers from redundant redundancy.

I Can See You
There’s more of a pronounced keyboard presence here and the arrangement is less redundant and less stripped than the opener. In many ways this is a great way to bring the classic Heep sound into the current day. The chorus, though, feels a little too mainstream pop. The driving rhythm section and keyboards combine on the verses, though, to scream “Uriah Heep!”
Into The Wild
As this pounds in, I’m reminded of Deep Purple’s classic “Burn.” Of course, Heep and Purple always occupied an area of music that wasn’t too far removed from each other's space. This is definitely the best cut to this point. It’s got a lot of character and a real driving powerhouse arrangement. The vocal arrangement is both awesome and classic Heep. This is certainly one of the standout tunes. Of course, a title track should stand above a lot of the other music on the set.
Money Talk
That retro Heep keyboard and vocal sound is all over this, but in some ways the overall song structure makes me think of a cross between AC/DC and Uriah Heep. It’s a high energy tune that works better than the first two pieces, but not as well as the title track. There’s a killer instrumental section mid-song that’s a bit like Vanilla Fudge. Of course, again, Fudge and Heep weren’t that different.
I'm Ready
Now, here’s a song that shows what can be gained by a successful melding of newer sounds with a vintage Uriah Heep character. The keyboard and vocal arrangements, along with the catchy yet fairly complex song structure conveys a vintage Heep sound. The instrumentation and harder edge seems more in keeping with modern music, though. This is another that sounds a lot like Deep Purple at times, but on the prog-like instrumental section, Dream Theater might even come to mind.
Trail Of Diamonds
A balladic side with lots of drama, mystery and layers was always a big part of the Uriah Heep charm. This cut fits into that school. It’s also a great example of how that trademark sound can be updated without losing anything. This is a rather progressive rock oriented piece that’s complex and has both a great keyboard sound and killer vocal arrangement. In a classic Uriah Heep arrangement, it powers out to harder rocking territory for the second half. There’s another movement later in the piece that’s very progressive rock oriented. This is the most dynamic number on show, and arguably the strongest.
Southern Star
Based on a classic sounding hard rock riff, this is a cut that works nicely between heavy metal and a classic Heep sound. There are sections that are more melodic and sections that are heavier. The vocal arrangements are classic and there are some great riffs here. That sort of contrast between heavier and mellower music was always a Heep trademark, and it’s one that’s easily infused with modern elements.
Believe
Here we get another with a lot of metal built into the arrangement. They alternate with more melodic sounds, though, and this is classic Heep brought into the 21st Century.
Lost
The killer riffing that drives this reminds me of Rainbow. It’s another that presents a great combination of classic Heep sounds with more modern metallic musical elements. It’s another great tune.
T-Bird Angel
With that title one might have expected a Heep take on 1950s music. That’s not what we get, but this is one of the more straightforward cuts on show. At times it wanders a bit too far towards mainstream pop, but overall it’s a great tune that rocks out nicely.
Kiss Of Freedom
In some ways this number is the most modern piece on show. Yet, with it’s part melodic, part hard rocking arrangement, this is certainly all classic Uriah Heep. That contrast along with the potent vocal arrangement and some great instrumental performances from all involved makes this tune a great choice for album closer.
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