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Uriah Heep - Demons and Wizards CD (album) cover

DEMONS AND WIZARDS

Uriah Heep

 

Heavy Prog

4.03 | 526 ratings

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semismart
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Uriah Heep has been around since 1969 and have had some thirty musicians over the years playing under the banner of Uriah Heep. They have recorded some twenty albums in the intervening thirty-four years of which the first four were extremely good, the following two were very good but the quality of the next two mediocre, at which point I stopped buying their albums. If any of their newer albums are good I do not know, though I suspect not.

Heep was a very prolific band at first, having released five albums from 1970 through 1972. This was when Heep was at their peak. After one more decent release in 1973, when Heep got their first top twenty hit, "Stealin" they seem to have hit a brick wall. Whether musically the public's tastes changed or Heep had a creative block, they never again reached the peaks they had achieved in the early seventies.

Of course they had plenty of material from those first five years and continued to tour in one form or another, mostly on the strength of the material their first six albums, including the fourth and most Heep fans favorite, Demons and Wizards.

Demons and Wizards

Demons and wizards is the album that secured Uriah Heep's reputation as a master of gothic-influenced heavy metal. From short, sharp rock songs to lengthy, musically dense epics. With Demons and Wizards, Uriah Heep appears to run the gamut, seemingly covering all the bases with style and power, from soft rock to hard rock to progressive rock, while embarking on a voyage into fantasy and mythology.

The lead off tune "The Wizard": sets the stage by starting as a simple acoustic tune, building into a melodic rocker that surges forth on a wall of sound built from thick guitar riffs, churchy organ, and operatic vocal harmonies, often giving chills along the way. "The Wizard" is a gentle semi-acoustic ballad that recounts a night-time meeting with "a wizard of a thousand kings... he told me tales and he drank my wine." It is only as the song progresses that we realize that the wizard is within us all, the wise "voices in our hearts" that so few people listen to, but which whisper the secrets of happiness and freedom regardless. This may be the most popular of all UH's music. It's just too bad it's not longer than three minutes.

Other highlights include "Traveller in Time," a fantasy-themed rocker built on thick wah- wah guitar riffs, UH's very first top forty single, "Easy Livin" peaking at #39 in July 1972, a punchy hard driving number that left fans breathless on their tours and "Circle of Hands," a noble sounding power ballad with a gospel-meets-heavy Hammond meets heavy metal feel to it, a six and a half minute masterpiece.

Some think However, the top highlight of the album is the closing medley of "Paradise" and "The Spell", the first part of the medley starts in an atmospheric, melancholy, acoustic mode and slowly adds layers of organ and electric guitar until it becomes a forceful slow-tempo rocker, eventually segueing into part two, a punchy, organ-led rocker that includes an instrumental midsection where choral-style harmonies fortify an exquisite, Floydian style guitar solo from Mick Box.

CONCLUSION

Demons and Wizards works well both as a showcase for Uriah Heep's instrumental prowess and a a primary display of their songwriting skills in a variety of rock styles. Demons and Wizards is considered by many fans to be their finest work and is definitely worth a spin for anyone with an interest in 1970s heavy metal with prog influences.

Although it was an immensely popular album among HEEP/Heads, Demons and Wizards is not, in my opinion, a particularly great album. It is, an average to good album with several average songs but happening to contain three of HEEP's all time best songs (some would say four or five with Easy Livin and Paradise)

Even so, the presence of three to five of Uriah Heep's best songs makes it a must have for HEEP fans or even Quasi-Heep fans.

semismart | 4/5 |

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