Review by Rob Broom for MPM
Uriah Heep light it up with a furious return after the restrictions of the pandemic with an essential new album full of power and joy.
Having finally seen Uriah Heap live for first time as special guests of Saxon in January 2022, it was a suitably jaw dropping moment that I will always remember. I was mesmerised and blown away by the sheer enjoyment the band were having on stage. Therefore, the opportunity to review this album was most welcome, as my Heep collection is surprisingly small compared to other bands of the same era (Deep Purple and Black Sabbath specifically).
‘Save Me Tonight’ kicks off the album and is a suitably full on opening number. This does not sound like a band going through the motions, but more like a band throwing down a challenge to all comers. A catchy tune and lyric fully justifies it’s use as the debut single. Expect the airwaves to be lit up as this blasts from your radio or listening device and shame on any radio stations that don’t play it!
‘Silver Sunlight’ keeps the pace going, Bernie Shaws vocals are tremendous (as they are throughout the album) and the whole song screams ‘second single’! The challenge to other bands is still there, but this a band sounding triumphant and there is no point in resisting, just let the sound wash over you.
‘Hail the Sunrise’ has plenty of keyboards from Phil Lanzon swirling throughout a song about stone circles and the solstice. This is classic Heep and if your stereo is not turned up by now then you know what to do – turn it up to 11! Mick Box delivers a great guitar solo and this song should be fantastic live.
‘Age Of Changes’ kicks off with vocal harmonies and canters along at a fair pace that would put many other bands to shame. Keyboards and guitar breaks are superb. Drumming from Russell Gilbrook and bass from from Dave Rimmer underpin the song. Whilst I am repeating myself this should also be fantastic live and its certainly one of my favourites on the album but I should warn you now, this is an album chock full of great music!
Mick Box gives us a great guitar riff as ‘Hurricane’ opens up. This is pure rocker of a song. Sometimes less is more, and this song is fits that perfectly.
‘One Nation, One Sun’ is described as ‘ a journey of soaring balladic contemplation’. I have little to add to that except considering it is over 7 minutes long, it holds the attention in the most delightful way.
‘Golden Light’ picks up the pace again with those keyboards from Phil Lanzon pumping out the riffs alongside Mick Boxes guitar. This is one of those majestic Uriah Heep songs and guess what – I bet it sounds fantastic live!
‘You’ll Never Be Alone’ clocks in at just under 8 minutes, the song ebbs and flows whilst it tells its story. An album highlight, this is another classic Uriah Heep piece, really kicking into gear at about the 4 minute mark when heads should shake and fists punch the air before dropping back again to round out the song.
‘Fly Like An Eagle’ gives us guitar, synths, drums and bass driving a mystic tale of meditation powered by Bernie Shaws vocal. Synth and guitar breaks intertwine and the song almost ends too quickly. It is just under 4 minutes long and so perhaps live we will hear a longer version or maybe I am just getting greedy!
‘Freedom to Be Free’ is however, over 8 minutes long, and fills that time with great vocals and fantastic instrumental breaks from the band. In places the song really motors along (but elsewhere drops away to almost silence) and quite honestly, yes, it will be a fantastic live set piece to highlight the individual members of the band.
‘Closer to Your Dreams’ is the final track on the album, and its a full on rocker in the mold of ‘Easy Living’. Keyboards pump along and the song – like the entire album – is full of optimism. There’s a great guitar solo and you can visualise the band throughly enjoying themselves as they hammered this one out in the studio.
Having been around for over 50 years, it is unsurprising that Uriah Heep are able to produce a new album, but perhaps what will be exciting for existing fans is that they are able to to produce dramatic new material like this. The album is full of familiar sounding songs, yet they capture a sense of urgency and freshness that still keeps the band relevant for a potential new audience. The band capture that pure enjoyment of making music perfectly. It is an excellent album that rewards repeating playing, ideally at a decent volume!
Staggeringly, on top of all that, the entire album could be played in the live environment, theres no filler anywhere to be heard!
So don’t delay, get on and order or buy your copy now, although leave one for me!
It is only January, yet 2023 has opened with 3 tremendous albums – ‘Chaos and Colour’ from Uriah Heep, Iggy Pops ‘Every Loser’ and King Krakens debut ‘MCLXXX’.
Each one is a potential contender for album of the year, yet each is musically diverse from the other. It is truly fantastic to be able to soak up all this new music and of course it is brilliant that bands are still actually producing new music rather than resting on their laurels.
With albums from Metallica and Rival Sons (among others) due this year, 2023 could be another golden year, comparing with the early 70s and early 80s when the album ruled.
Pre-orders available from November 8thon this site
Chaos & Colour Track List:
- Save Me Tonight
- Silver Sunlight
- Hail the Sunrise
- Age of Changes*
- One Nation, One Sun
- Golden Light
- You’ll Never Be Alone
- Fly Like an Eagle
- Freedom to Be Free
- Closer to Your Dreams*
- Save Me Tonight (Demo)**
*CD and Digital only
**Deluxe CD only
MICK BOX – Lead Guitar / Vocals
PHIL LANZON – Keyboards / Vocals
BERNIE SHAW – Lead Vocals
DAVE RIMMER – Bass Guitar / Vocals
RUSSELL GILBROOK – Drums & Percussion
Produced by Jay Ruston
Engineered by Pieter Rietkerk
Recorded at Chapel Studios UK
Mixed by Jay Ruston at TRS West, Sherman Oaks, California
Additional Engineering by John Douglass
Mastered by Paul Logus
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