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Uriah Heep - Into The Wild CD (album) cover

INTO THE WILD

Uriah Heep

 

Heavy Prog

3.58 | 100 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Phil's on fire!

"Into the wild" is effectively the follow up to the 2008 album "Wake the sleeper", notwithstanding the fact that the band did release a selection of new recordings of old songs on "Celebration-40 years of rock" in the interim. The line up is the same as that which recorded those albums, the current quintet having remained intact for well over 20 years now (apart from the enforced retirement of drummer Lee Kerslake a few years ago).

While very much a band effort, it is Mick Box who appears to lead the band's strategic direction these days. This means that the epic numbers which were largely responsible for the band's listing on this site are confined to the past, the main emphasis now being on songs which rock. That said, Phil Lanzon appears to have had more influence on the arrangement of the songs this time, leading to his keyboards enjoying greater prominence. To his credit, he uses the opportunity to instil a classic Uriah Heep sound (I hesitate to say a Hensley like sound, Lanzon is well established in his own right) in many of the tracks here.

The album opens with the band's obligatory but invariably futile attempt to write a hit single, "Nail on the head" being a mid-paced slice of anthemic rock with a catchy and slightly funky hook. Bernie Shaw's voice sounds a bit harsher than usual, perhaps indicating his willingness to push it more now that his problems with his vocal chords are behind him. "I can see you" reminds me at times of a song from the Byron era called "So tired". In its own right though this is a meaty number with some fine harmonies and a mighty sound.

Lanzon's opening Hammond organ on the title track take us way back and while the song is a bit by the numbers with rather prosaic "little sister" lyrics, it does have an instant appeal. "Money talk" is not unlike the opener, a strong quasi-funky basis supporting a toe tapping sing-a-long-anthem. Lanzon closes the track with a fine organ solo.

Five tracks in to the album already (each runs to just over 4 minutes) and "I'm ready" sees no letting up of the pace. Without wishing to labour the point, Phil Lanzon really is in his element this time, his keyboards contribution here being wonderfully over the top. To be fair, his efforts do transform tracks such as this from basic rock numbers to retro (Heep) classics.

The 6 1/2 minute "Trail of diamonds" is the first of the tracks where the band move into more adventurous areas. Opening as a semi-acoustic soft song where Bernie Shaw displays his strong vocal talents, the song later develops into a louder epic number. Structurally, there are similarities with the classic "Stealin'". As with that song, "Trail of diamonds" boasts a strong melody and some classic Heep ah-ah harmonies. Towards then end of the track Mick Box adds some great chiming guitar, something I would have liked to have seen developed further (Perhaps this will be done in the live environment, along the lines of "Circle of hands"?).

"Southern star" seeks to find the sort of hook which made "Lady in black" so popular, the chorus lines being appended with "oh-oh-oh" tags. "Believe" opens with another burst of Hammond" leading to a song which feels like "Between two worlds part 2". Once again, a strong melody underlying a song which I expect to become a live favourite. "Lost" is perhaps a bit "Rainbow demon" like, the driving organ sound underpinning a strong mid- paced number. Given that this is the only track on the album not written by Box and Lanzon or Lanzon alone (it is written by Trevor Boulder) it would appear to be Mr. Boulder who takes on lead vocal duties here. He does a good job of it too.

"T-bird angel" may not be the most appealing title, but once again we have a fine melodic rock number. The album closes with its second 6+ minute track. "Kiss of freedom" is reminiscent of "Sweet freedom" Phil Lanzon, who wrote the song, emulating Ken Hensley with a wonderful anthem which positively swims in organ.

Overall, while "Into the wild" finds the band continuing to work well within their capabilities, there is an obvious effort here to embrace the band's proud heritage. Phil Lanzon especially displays an admirable propensity for recognising the sound the band made their won in the early 1970's, while writing songs for the twenty tens. Mick Box is perhaps a bit less overt on this album in terms of lead guitar solos, but his trademark guitar sound is still very much in evidence. While I would dearly love to see Uriah Heep once again creating the odd epic track, "into the wild" is a highly enjoyable album of songs which will please the band's loyal following.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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