Wake The Sleeper

Uriah Heep

Somewhere between the progressive hard rock of Deep Purple and the operatic cabaret of Queen sits the legend of Uriah Heep. The road has never been easy for the English institution, more or less peaking in the early 70s, but continuing in the face of adversity and a changing world. For their first album of new songs in 10 years, Uriah Heep has risen to the challenge and delivered what may well be their greatest work in decades, Wake The Sleeper.

Produced by Mike Paxman, who's twisted the knobs for that other underrated British hard rock legend Status Quo, the five piece group, led by lone original member, guitarist Mick Box, blasts off from the opening, crunching chords of the title track and never lets up. Singer Bernie Shaw, who’s been with the group for over 20 years, has never sounded stronger or more confident — embracing the standard and attitude of the group’s original vocalist, David Byron. Listen to him on “Overload,” “Light Of A Thousand Stars,” “Book Of Lies” and “Angels Walk With You,” and you'll hear how Shaw has come to define the Uriah Heep sound, with a nod to the group's classic roots.

Keyboardist Phil Lanzon and bassist Trevor Bolder also come to the fore. Lanzon especially, faced with the daunting task since 1986 of replacing and living up to the legend of Ken Hensley, not only maneuvers the Hammond around like a master, but together with Box, co-wrote a bulk of the material for the record. Wake The Sleeper is the first Uriah Heep album without their long-standing drummer Lee Kerslake, who retired in 2007 due to ill health. Filling the drum seat is Russell Gilbrook, who’s pounded for everyone from Tony Iommi to Lonnie Donnegan.

In the drivers’ seat for each and every song is and will always be Mick Box. From churning out the heavy, yet catchy riffing on “Overload,” “Book Of Lies” and “Shadow” to orchestrating momentous grooves on “What Kind Of Good” and “Angels Walk With You” to playing the juggler leads on “Ghost Of The Ocean” — Box exemplifies the spirit and dedication to keeping the Uriah Heep flame lit. If they continue making albums that match the caliber of Wake The Sleeper, it’s safe to say Uriah Heep will, if they haven’t already, prosper even as they outlive their detractors.

~ Shawn Perry

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