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Uriah Heep: Outsider

45 years is a long time to keep a band going, let alone a successful one. Britain's very own heavy rock legends Uriah Heep were part of the growing hard rock/proto-metal/progressive rock movement of the early '70s, unleashing their debut Very 'Eavy...Very 'Umble way back in 1970 and never looking back. Despite many personnel changes over the years and a few tragic deaths, the band has persevered and continue to not only draw crowds all over the world on the live circuit, but also to record & release really solid new original material. Their latest CD, Outsider, is the 8th studio album with lead vocalist Bernie Shaw & keyboard player Phil Lanzon, who joined way back in 1986. Along with founding guitarist Mick Box and drummer Russell Gilbrook (who entered the band in 2007), Heep is rounded out by bassist Davey Rimmer, who replaced the late Trevor Bolder in 2013.

Continuing on with the success of recent albums Wake the Sleeper (2008) and Into the Wild (2011), Outsider doesn't really offer up any surprises, but then again it doesn't need to, delivering up the classy brand of heavy rock that Heep have been known for since they debuted on the scene. Raging Hammond organ, beefy guitar riffs, and Shaw's soaring pipes permeate the vibrant opener "Speed of Sound", while the band mixes prog rock with hard rock bravado on the addicting "One Minute". Showing that they first and foremost are a heavy band, both "The Law" and the title track rock and rock hard, with Hammond and lethal riffs front and center, the latter even including some furious double bass drums courtesy of Gillbrook. Be prepared to raise your fist into the air with the rousing "Rock the Foundation", another upbeat anthem with a blazing wah-wah guitar solo from Box and Lanzon's insistent Hammond organ riffs.

The more atmospheric "Is Anybody Gonna Help Me?" harkens back to the bands glory years of Demons & Wizards, Look at Yourself, and The Magicians Birthday, which is followed by the upbeat rocker "Looking at You", another hook laden number filled with Heep's trademark rich backing vocal harmonies. Rimmer's booming bass slots in right alongside those crushing Box riffs & Lanzon's majestic Hammond on the bruising "Can't Take That Away", and the blistering "Jessie" might just have Mick's most lethal riff on the album, as well as a killer vocal hook from the always excellent Shaw. Melodic prog-rock comes out on the engaging "Kiss the Rainbow", and the band closes things out with the pummeling "Say Goodbye", another massive heavy rock number featuring a killer Box riff that just never lets up.

Chances are, if you loved Uriah Heep's last two albums, there's just no way in hell that you'll walk away disappointed with Outsider. In fact, this one might even be stronger, and it's certainly heavier. Mick Box is playing like a man possessed these days, with crunchy, memorable riffs flying at you from all directions, Lanzon delivering those Ken Hensley styled Hammond organ passages like it was 1973 all over again, Bernie Shaw soaring to the heavens, and Russell Gillbrook & Davey Rimmer locked in solid on the rhythms. It's one memorable song after another here, and you just have to think that the creative juices are flowing so steadily with this band that there is just no stopping them now. When you talk about all the classic bands that are still out on the scene tearing up the road and creative great new music, Uriah Heep surely sits near the top of the list. This is easily a contender for Album of 2014 in my book.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!

Track Listing
1) Speed of Sound
2) One Minute
3) The Law
4) The Outsider
5) Rock the Foundation
6) Is Anybody Gonna Help Me?
7) Looking at You
8) Can't Take That Away
9) Jessie
10) Kiss the Rainbow
11) Say Goodbye

Added: June 30th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2555
Language: english

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Uriah Heep: Outsider
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-06-29 18:01:12
My Score:

It's indicative of the almost forgotten elder statesman like position that classic rockers Uriah Heep hold, that in a time when critics have clamoured to heap (if you'll pardon the pun) praise on lukewarm releases from vintage acts such as Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and amongst other Metallica, that the Heep's recent output has gone reasonably unheralded. Since their decade of silence between '98 and '08 three albums have, including Outsider, stamped an authority and confidence that (with the possible exception of the most recent Deep Purple offering Now What !?) knocked their contemporaries completely sideways. Wake The Sleeper was a stunning return, full of vigour and vim and cracking songs, 2011's Into The Wild confirming the energy this line-up of the band is positively overflowing with.

So does Outsider continue this streak of unmitigated success? Hell yeah! And then some. Band leader Mick Box is every bit as fiery on his fretboard as you could possibly imagine, vocalist Bernie Shaw a scintillating mix of aggression, power and clarity, keyboard man Phil Lanzon layering on helping after helping of Hammondy goodness, adding colour, brightness and force in equal measure. However the "new boys" ain't no slouches either, drummer Russell Gilbrook (OK, after a decade, he's hardly new) manically punishing his kit for some unspoken misdemeanour, while bassist Dave Rimmer does an amazing job of stepping into the shoes of the sadly departed and much missed Trevor Bolder who passed away last year. In fact great credit goes to Rimmer, for his integration into the band really is beyond seamless.

Having discovered as far back as 1995's Sea Of Light a cracking, meaty sound which keenly straddles the band's classic 70s heyday and a heavier, more boisterous approach, the Heep have basically used the same mould for each subsequent album. However unlike most bands employing a similar style from outing to outing, Mick and his men have managed to infuse each which such a passion and energy that they couldn't be further from tired retreads. Instead Outsider positively brims with songs that immediately draw you in and keep you singing the words, humming the keyboard lines and hammering out the rhythms for days on end. So much so that I'll have to take my car to the garage to replace the steering wheel, such is the thumping abuse it's suffered in recent weeks as I've hammered out the beats.

Dip into this album anywhere and you'll discover something that demands you keep listening, whether that be the joyous thump of "Is Anybody Gonna Help Me?", the days gone by Hammond swirl and drum crescendos of "Speed Of Sound", the piano introduced but guitar driven "One Minute", or the thunderously bass booming "Jesse". And, as you'll guess, I really could have picked out any of the eleven tracks on show to highlight the many strengths of this album.

Other bands may always have been more fashionable, or indeed popular, but Uriah Heep always had the goods. With Outsider they've once more illustrated just how good they are, slamming this album into top gear time and time again. This is one outsider who should not be left out in the cold.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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