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Uriah Heep - Sea Of Light CD (album) cover

SEA OF LIGHT

Uriah Heep

 

Heavy Prog

3.70 | 102 ratings

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SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars It is a bit of a challenge to rate this album since it includes some of Uriah Heep's very best songs ever, but also a couple of quite average ones. Notably, the two worst ones are written by bassist Trevor Bolder who gets to include as much as four cuts on this album. Still, it is worth pointing out immediately that this 1995 album, despite its few weak moments, easily was Uriah Heep's best album since the 70's.

The line-up involved here consists of Bernie Shaw on vocals, Mick Box on guitars, Phil Lanzon on keyboards, Trevor Bolder on bass and Lee Kerslake on drums. This particular band had been together since 1986 (and remained unchanged until recently when Lee Kerslake was replaced, but the others are still going strong today!). This is by far the longest standing Uriah Heep line-up, but also, in my opinion, the best! The voice of Bernie Shaw is distinctive and emotional and gives this band an identity and self- confidence that they rarely had before in their long history. The band is in top form here with guitars, keyboards, bass guitar and drums all being played very well. And not to forget - the vocal harmonies! The two previous albums by this line-up, Raging Silence and Different World, had been very weak and the expectations for this follow-up were not very large, to say the least. In that perspective 1995 really was a time of revelation (to paraphrase one of the song titles), since Sea Of Light showed a strongly re- energized Uriah Heep.

Against All Odds opens the album and it immediately becomes clear that the band is back in business again. But we are a bit let down already by the second track, the Bolder-penned, generic rocker Sweet Sugar. Time Of Revelation picks up the pace and is the first great track of the album with a strong melody and great harmony vocals. Mistress Of All Time follows and this is the only number written by Lanzon on his own, with all other tracks (apart from the four Bolder compositions) being co-written by Lanzon and Box. It is surprising that such a poignant composition could be found on a Uriah Heep album. Mistress Of All Time instantly feels like a classic song. It could have been even better with genuine flute instead of keyboards sounding like flutes, but this is minor criticism.

Universal Wheels is another powerful hard rock song, good but not great. Fear Of Falling is the second Bolder composition and this time the lead vocals are not handled by Bernie Shaw. I suspect that it is Bolder himself singing, the album credits don't say. There is nothing wrong with his vocals, but the song feels a bit out of place here.

Spirit Of Freedom brings the album back on track yet again. This is another piece that somehow feels like a classic already the first time you hear it. Logical Progression has a title that makes you believe that it is a progressive track, which is quite right. It has some nice keyboards, some very good bass guitar and a strong chorus line. But the best is yet to come; Love In Silence is one of my favourite Uriah Heep songs ever. July Morning seems uninspiring compared to this excellent composition. But I must point out that I strongly prefer the more powerful live version on the Magic Night DVD where Heather Finlay of the band Mostly Autumn sings this as a duet with Bernie - what a powerful moment on that great concert! This DVD is highly recommended, by the way. Again, Love In Silence has great bass guitar and very strong vocals.

Words In The Distance is yet another good rock song, albeit with very simplistic lyrics. The album ends with the remaining two Bolder compositions and luckily these are far better than his first two. Fires Of Hell (Your Only Son) being a fierce hard rock song and Dream On an acoustic ballad with some very nice guitar play and harmony vocals. Bolder is not at all a bad song writer after all!

Overall, this leaves Sea Of Light as a bit uneven, with some great moments and some not so great moments. Not until we had the follow-up Sonic Origami could we finally say that this line-up had made their triumph in the studio. But, Sea Of Light is still very good. Indeed, together with Sonic Origami this is one of the best ever Uriah Heep albums. And it has a very nice cover art too by none other than Roger Dean.

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |

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