Uriah Heep - Wake the Sleeper (Noise/Sanctuary Records)
By: Justin Donnelly
Following a lengthy nine month wait after announcing the initial release date (brought on by the purchase of Sanctuary Records by Universal Music), Uriah Heep’s highly anticipated new album Wake The Sleeper has finally arrived.
Despite numerous live albums and consistent touring across the globe, Wake The Sleeper is the UK act’s first studio album in ten long years, the last being 1998’s highly acclaimed Sonic Origami. But if Uriah Heep’s 21st studio effort is any indication of where the band is heading in the new millennium, then it’s safe to say that classic rock legends never die.
Proving they’ve lost none of their progressive edge in their time away, the band open up the album with the powerful and fast paced title track “Wake The Sleeper.” Drenched with Phil Lanzon’s huge keyboards, Mick Box’s heavy guitar work, Russell Gilbrook’s rapid fire drumming (Lee Kerslake’s replacement after he took ill in early 2007) and the group’s trademark five way harmonies (which aside from the above mentioned members, are filled out with vocalist Bernie Shaw and bassist Trevor Bolder), Wake The Sleeper is Uriah Heep at their progressive hard rock best.
The hard rocking “Overload,” although a little different sounding for the band, is no less impressive as Box injects some heavy guitar work into Uriah Heep’s trademark sound, while “Tears Of The World,” “Book Of Lies,” the heavy blues-tinged “Angels Walk With You” and “Ghost Of The Ocean” are all fantastic rocking efforts (especially in regards to Shaw’s powerhouse performance out front), and bring to mind the class and quality of Deep Purple’s output in recent years.
Elsewhere, the band tone down their progressive tendencies on the mid-paced “Light Of A Thousand Stars,” the slow “Heavens Rain,” the thought provoking “What Kind Of God” and the riff heavy/catchy “Shadow,” before finishing things up with the powerful epic anthem “War Child.”
While the band haven’t had a hit single in years (or an album for that matter!), or had the media coverage of some other well known classic rock acts, Uriah Heep prove that time has not wearied them one bit. If anything, after close to thirty years, Wake The Sleeper shows that Uriah Heep can still write classics and are still well and truly on top of their game.