It's pretty clear with the release of Faster that former Uriah Heep member Ken Hensley is more than a little aware of the powerful new music that his old bandmates have been creating over the last decade or so. Together with his band Live Fire, which includes Hensley on vocals, keyboards & guitar, Eirikur Hauksson on vocals, Ken Ingwersen on guitars, bassist Sid Ringsby , and drummer Tom Arne Fossheim, the keyboard legend has created an album that, for the most part, sounds very Heep-ish, something that longtime fans certainly have been waiting for from him for some time.
There's a handful of tracks here on Faster that are quite strong, and on par with the excellent material that Uriah Heep have put out on their recent Wake the Sleeper and Into the Wild releases. "Set Me Free (from yesterday)" is an excellent, mysterious rocker with plenty of fiery Hammond from Hensley and raging guitar riffs courtesy of Ingwersen. Hauksson's vocals are not too distant from the late David Byron, helping make this track a pure winner and homage to classic Heep from the early 70's. On "The Curse", the band settle into an uptempo groove, driven by crunchy riffs and swirling Hammond (sounding eerily similar to modern day Heep), and there are hooks aplenty, showing that Hensley can still come up a catchy melody. Expect some somber blues rock on the poignant "I Cry Alone", as Ingwersen's guitar lines pour with emotion and Hauksson's vocals soar to the heavens. Toss in Hensley's majestic organ, and you have a heart tugging tune that really works. "Katrine" sounds more like Deep Purple than Heep, complete with hard rocking guitar & Hammond riffs, and the title track is a blistering rocker featuring more raging Hensley Hammond organ and heavy rock guitar riffs, supplemented by a strong chorus. Unfortunately, the next bunch of songs bring upon a real lull in the album, and remind of Hensely's past AOR material. It's not until "Somewhere (In Paradise)" that things pick up again, as this catchy rocker is a dead ringer for Byron era Heep, complete with hooks, heavy riffs, organ, and Hauksson's perfect rendition of the late David Byron. A nice touch on this is also the sweet slide guitar from Hensley that pops up in a few spots. "Fill your head (With Rock)" closes out the regular part of the album in fine fashion, a heavy rocker with fun lyrics that just makes you want to get up, pump your fist, and bang your head. Throw in a great live version of the Heep classic "Circle of Hands", and you have a real return to form from this iconic musician and his band.
Faster might not be as spectacular as Uriah Heep's latest CD Into the Wild, but it certainly doesn't lag too far behind. This one suffers from perhaps a few too many tunes, but for the most part this is Ken Hensley returning to his rock roots and really delivering some solid Heep-ish material. Welcome back!
01. Set Me Free (from yesterday) – 6:44
02. The Curse – 6:21
03. I cry alone – 5:18
04. Katrine – 4:32
05. Faster – 3:11
06. Slippin' away (The Lovers Curse) – 3:56
07. The end of never – 3:26
08. Beyond the Starz – 6:58
09. (At) The last minute – 3:09
10. Somewhere (In Paradise) – 3:43
11. Fill your head (With Rock) – 5:37
12. Circle of Hands-live