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Uriah Heep will be 40 years old next year.... and this is one 40 year old where the old "life begins at" cliche holds true. They've just released this, their first studio album in 10 years (after a run of live albums). Was it worth the wait? You better believe it! This album holds up very very well in comparison to the classic Heep of the early 70's, and the then rejuvenated early 80's line up. This is possibly the best album they've made since 1982's Abominog, and maybe even the best since that early 70's heyday.
Soundwise, all the hallmarks of a great Heep album are there, the huge hammond organ sound, Mick Box's fantastic mastery of the guitar and wah-wah pedal (how many bands use one of those nowadays?), the multi-layered harmony vocals, and of course the main vocal performance itself. Singer Bernie Shaw has now been with the band since 1985, and I'd say this is his best set of vocals yet... his voice has deepened a tad with age so it sounds more resonant, more powerful, just, well, better than it has in the past.
The tracks start with the manic rocking opening title track which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the album! From then on it's a mixture of out and out classic style Heep rockers interspersed with the usual lighter moments that Heep have always done so well. Final track War Child is possibly the best song they've done since 1971's epic July Morning!
Make no bones about it, this is one of the best rock releases of the year, if not the decade! If you're an old Heep fan and are dithering about whether or not to buy this... get moving - it's a beauty of an album, incredibly well written, performed and produced. I've listened to it a dozen times in thelast week and can't wipe the grin off my face - it's that good! Roll on the tour!
1. Wake The Sleeper 2. Overload 3. Tears Of The World 4. Light Of A Thousand Stars 5. Heaven's Rain 6. Book Of Lies 7. What Kind Of God 8. Ghost Of The Ocean 9. Angels Walk With You 10. Shadow 11. War Child
'Sea Of Light' has to be in there in the years between 'Sleeper' and 'Abominog' though.
n13roy 09.07.2008 11:43
Good Grief......Uriah Heep, now THATS a blast from the past, I can tell you. Didn't know they were still going. I actually bought their VERY first album, on actual VINYL ( remember them ) a LONG time ago, called " Very Eavy, Very Umble " Saw them live a few times too !!!!..........Roy.....
manlybeach 06.07.2008 20:11
I haven't heard July Morning for years! It was one of my favourites. Good review
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Wake the Sleeper
Rock & Pop
Although Uriah Heep is known for its extensive personnel changes, its lineup has been stable since the mid-'80s; unfortunately, that stability coincided with the band's commercial decline (its last album to chart in the U.S. came in 1983, its last in its native U.K., 1985). So, no one outside the group's fan base noticed that the quintet of founding member and guitarist Mick Box, drummer Lee Kerslake (1971-1978, 1982-2007), bassist Trevor Bolder (who joined in 1977, left during the band's hiatus in the early '80s, and returned a couple of years after its re-formation), singer Bernie Shaw, and keyboard player Phil Lanzon (both of whom joined in the mid-'80s) remained in place through numerous world tours and the studio albums Raging Silence (1989), Different World (1991), Sea of Light (1995), and Sonic Origami (1998). Since then, a series of live albums have testified to Uriah Heep's continued existence. In January 2007, Kerslake bowed out due to health problems and was replaced by the capable Russell Gilbrook. Wake the Sleeper, Uriah Heep's first studio album in ten years and 21st overall, finds the group attempting to reclaim its original glory. It has had time to gather some quality material and to assess its long-term musical approach, and the album is both consistent with its sound over the years and a statement of purpose for the present and the future. As if to blow away the cobwebs, the album begins with three consecutive quick-tempo rockers, the title song (which has no lyrics except for that title), "Overload," and the socially conscious "Tears of the World" ("The tears of the world keep falling until we stand together.") Things slow down only slightly with "Light of a Thousand Stars," which, like much of the rest of the album, sounds like it could have been made in 1978 instead of 2008. The guitar/organ/bass/drums instrumental lineup often recalls Deep Purple, and Shaw's clear tenor is reminiscent of Journey's Steve Perry and Boston's Brad Delp. This, of course, is one of the problems with Uriah Heep. Thirty-eight years into an artist's career, critics should not be falling back on the "sounds like" game to describe the music. And yet those comparisons are hard to avoid; one hears a little Led Zeppelin here ("Book of Lies"), a little Deep Purple there ("Angels Walk with You"), and sometimes just a generic '70s prog rock style ("Heavens Rain," "What Kind of God"). But maybe that's just to say that Wake the Sleeper isn't going to change anyone's mind about Uriah Heep. The album is true to the band's legacy, and the songs should please longtime fans who come out to the shows, juxtaposed with more familiar old songs in the set list. ~ William Ruhlmann
Record Collector - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] veritable treasure trove of visceral melodic hard rock that will have fans salivating and should by rights convert many more."