Released: 2011, Frontiers Records
It’s almost unbelievable that the venerable Uriah Heep is still going strong after over 40 (!) years, but here we are in 2011, and Mick Box and the boys have a brand new album for our consumption. Over the course of their career, the band has had more than its share of line up changes, but they’ve been incredibly stable since the mid-‘80s, with only one change of drummer to speak of. This has helped the band stay relevant as Canadian Bernie Shaw fronts the band with aplomb and Box is as capable as ever on guitar. Some folks still can’t get over the loss of Ken Hensley on keyboards, but Phil Lanzon is more than able to fill his shoes, and the rhythm section of Bolder and Gilbrook is as solid as they come.
It’s safe to say that INTO THE WILD won’t come as shock to fans of the band, as it is chock full of the driving hard rock overlaid with grinding keyboards that the band is known for. Lead song & single “Nail on the Head” is exactly the type of song that will bring a smile to the band’s following as Shaw leads the band through a stomping sing-along. The highlight of the album for me is “Southern Star” which is a slower, almost doomy song with some excellent interplay between guitar and keyboard. It’s catchy as hell and really allows Shaw’s strong vocals to shine. The band picks up the pace with both “I can See You” and the title track, which comes across as a speed metal song that Deep Purple should have written. All told, the band has done a fantastic job of capturing a very powerful, live feeling on the album.
As good as most of the songs are, there are several filler tracks on the album that drag it down. “Money Talk” features song great playing from Box and Lanzon but ultimately goes nowhere, “Lost” is a slow grinder that never really grabs you, while the last song, “Kiss of Freedom” is a lengthy ballad that ends the album on a whimper. However, a good three quarters of the album is absolutely top-shelf hard rock.
It’s unbelievable the Uriah Heep is still as vibrant and vital today as they were in the ‘70s, but INTO THE WILD is more than ample proof. Just listen to the performances on this album and its difficult to fathom that half of the band is 60 years old or more. Respect.