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Uriah Heep - Wake The Sleeper (CD)

Uriah Heep
Wake The Sleeper
by Grigoris Chronis at 23 June 2008, 11:43 AM

With the new URIAH HEEP album finally being released, plus it will also be pressed in vinyl format, we surely have good news regarding old rockers' anticipation. Wake The Sleeper, already from the first spins in my CD player, shows it was worth the wait. And - bear in mind - this is not out of the blue for the legendary British band, for everyone having already seen them onstage the last years. To be more strict in words, it's kinda electrifying to eventually have the new URIAH HEEP album available.
The first album in the 21st century, and - for those still remembering the feedback the previous studio album, Sonic Origami, had in 1998 - it seems that the quintet has not lost any more ground; in opposite, Wake The Sleeper should prove to be a way much better step, since it combines the 70s/80s feeling and songwriting featuring some 90s 'polishing' in sound. The 21st(!) studio album by the Birmingham-based rockers was on hold - whoever can recall - due to various label issues out of the scope of this review. In any way, it's final release sees the best possible effort someone would expect from a band responsible for a great portion of the Hard rock/Heavy Metal style.
New drummer is pounding, really pounding; Russell Gilbrook replaced longtime 'teddy bear' Lee Cerslake and his contribution is rapidly seen from the album-titled opening track, a 70s HEEP-trademark …ahhh, ahhh… semi-instrumental fast-pace runner creating high expectations regarding the album's volume. In a remaining set of ten equally interesting tunes, we see URIAH HEEP's mood being fine, with some great guitar work by Mick Box, with lots of wah wah use and a clear tension to honor both '70s' and '80s' soloing. Phil Lanzon's performance is just as immense, too. You'll certainly bring Ken Hensley's hammond sound in mind (again), while it would be not of real justice to stick to this fact and only, since Lanzon - as the co-writer of nearly all the songs in this album - has implemented enough of his (anyway) great 'back up' behavior in the URIAH HEEP style. Trevor Bolder carries on being a 'silent force' for the band while - Last but not least - Bernie Shaw is in fine mood, delivering some impressive and well-structured vocals throughout the whole release. The choir vocals are again present allover, not to forget.
I dig Tears Of The World cause it's an up-tempo melodic HEEP-rocker, I fancy Heaven's Rain with its majestic 70s structure/vibe, I vote for Book Of Lies due to its 80s DEEP PURPLE-alike attitude and I would not forget to place  Ghost of The Ocean in the top list, mainly regarding the 70s British breeze it does let loose. Still, apart from maybe What Kind of God's average (in my opinion) nature, the whole album stands really tall and proud, making it quite surprising URIAH HEEP has return in such full speed, nearly after 40 years in the music business.
Wake The Sleeper is stable and solid, integrated and 'hard'. With 4/5 of the lineup playing for 20 years now, it was expected that in terms of performance everything would be intact. Still, the songs themselves are really good, really really good. Surely, it's been worth the wait!

 

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Wake The Sleeper
Overload
Tears Of the World
Light Of A Thousand Stars
Heavens Rain
Book Of Lies
What Kind Of God
Ghost Of The Ocean
Angels Walk With You
Shadow
War Child
Lineup:
Bernie Shaw -    Lead Vocals
Mick Box - Guitars, Vocals
Trevor Bolder - Bass, Vocals
Phil Lanzon - Keyboards, Vocals
Russell Gilbrook - Drums, Vocals
Record Label: Sanctuary/Universal
     


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