Deep Purple are one of the founders of Hard Rock and Metal. Were they the first Metal band? Was it Sabbath or Zeppelin? Either way they were there at the beginning and influenced just about every Metal musician out there today. A few months ago they released their 19th studio album and it is their best output in many years. Yes, that gets said about most new albums but it rings true here.
NOW WHAT?! is more focused and consistent than the last album, RAPTURE OF THE DEEP. Miles ahead of BANANAS and ABANDON. Stronger and more memorable than PURPENDICULAR, which was the last great Purple release. The couple before that were not the best either. So you can see that since the late 80’s the bands releases have been hit or miss. Even though an album such as THE BATTLE RAGES ON may not be up to snuff, it has some good moments. For me personally I enjoy the Mk II era of the band the best. To me that is the band at their best with the strongest group of players. The line-up for NOW WHAT?! is 3/5’s of that classic era. Sadly, illness and the passing of Jon Lord made a reunion impossible. It is Lord’s huge Hammond sound that is missing on this album. Airey does a fine job but he is no Jon Lord. The Airey signature sound is very pronounced on “Vincent Price” and has that eerie “Mr. Crowley” feel to it, as it should. It is on many parts of the album that he tries to capture some of that classic Lord sound that doesn’t quite fit. Paice and Glover are as solid as ever and never miss. These guys have a chemistry that few can touch. Beautiful bass sounds and the deepest, heaviest drum sound in the world. Nobody can touch Paice for drum sound, nobody. Gillian hasn’t sounded this good on a Purple album in awhile. Yes, he may not have the range he once had but he still has the power. Steve Morse is a fitting replacement for Blackmore. Many will disagree and that Blackmore is irreplaceable and he was the sound of the band. I understand he was an integral part of the sound but the loss of Jon Lord caused much more devastation.
NOW WHAT?! is one of the year’s greatest albums, hands down. It is a true winner in just about every aspect. Parts of it are reminiscent of earlier Purple songs but all eleven tracks are new and fresh. The songs “Hell To Pay” and “Vincent Price” really stand out along with “Bodyline” which has that Paice/Glover groove. If you don’t buy NOW WHAT?! you will be missing out on possibly the best release of 2013.
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