Uriah Heep comes back with another studio album after extremely enjoyable “Wake The Sleeper”. While “Into The Wild” isn’t as great as I wished it to be, it’s still a very solid release which should satisfy all band’s fans. Just like preceding album it’s clearly rooted in Uriah Heep’s glorious past, so you can expect tons of Hammond organ riffs (no other keyboard here!), dazzling guitar solos and usual mix of energetic hard songs and more complex quasi-epic tracks. I’m glad that these heavy prog dinosaurs are still able to pull off such entertaining material, without selling off to modern trends.
“Into The Wild” consists of 11 new compositions:
1. “Nail on the Head” – unfortunately album begins with definitely the worst UH’s song I’ve heard from ages. Main guitar riff sounds like it was looped to playback again and again so Mick Box could go for lunch earlier! Also Bernie Shaw keeps repeating the refrain until you feel exhausted, so in general “Nail on the Head” is a very boring, repetitive experience. What a shame that they decided to promote this good album with such a turkey. Even their 80s new wave heavy metal was much better than this crap. The only redeeming factor is guitar solo in the middle which is classy as usual.
2. “I Can See You” – next track is so much better! It’s still a bit too mainstream for me, but at least it’s a memorable tune with neck-breaking tempo, heavy guitar licks and roaring organ backing. I can add that somehow it reminds me of “Devil’s Daughter” song. Anyway it’s a real start of the album for me. Let’s just forget about opening flop…
3. “Into The Wild” – my favorite track from this release. Essence of 70s style heavy prog with thundering organ/guitar delivery and dark, thrilling vocal. I love Lanzon’s Hammond B-3 solo, very energetic and very “hensleyish”. I hope it will become new UH’s concert favorite, it deserves to be placed on band’s live track-list for sure.
4. “Money Talk” – another ground-shaking number with even meaner organ riffs reminding me of Jon Lord’s work in Deep Purple. Especially last minute of the song is drenched in heavy organ spectacular madness. Only quasi-refrain “Down for the money” sounds too goofy and irrelevant here for me. The rest is splendid.
5. “I’m Ready” – Uriah Heep keep rockin’ like there’s no tomorrow in another song. Up-beat, frenetic rock’n'roller with flashy organ & fiery electric guitar tones. Brief B-3 solo part in the middle, preceded by guitar one is especially worth to be mentioned.
6. “Trail of Diamonds” – first mini-epic of this album is called “Trail of Diamonds”. First half of the song is very mellow and ballad style with Shaw’s melancholic vocal, melodic Hammond melodies and acoustic guitar licks. But at 2:20 minute Box suddenly kicks off with guitar riff…taken directly from “The Magician’s Birthday” epic! But it’s only couple of seconds and after that Uriah Heep proceeds to most energetic part of the song, which is equally good as the slow paced one. In the end musicians come back to melancholic mood with typical for them “AAAAA” chorus-like singing. In general it’s equally well-written song as “What Kind of God” from “Wake The Sleeper”, but of course it can’t be matched with such magnificent lengthy compositions from 70′ like “July Morning”, “Pilgrim” or “Paradise/The Spell”.
7. “Southern Star” – more radio-friendly mid-tempo rocker but not memorable for me at all. Standard track without anything distinguishable.
8. “Believe” – similar to previous song, typical Uriah Heep’s rocker with evident pop flavor. In general not bad but also not particularly good.
9. “Lost” – amazing heavy progressive rock track with thrilling vocal harmonies and slightly middle-east flavor melody lines. I don’t know who is the main singer on this composition but it’s definitely not Bernie (maybe it’s Lanzon?). Anyway “Lost” is a truly mean & dark-sounding song filled with gritty organ riffs. Last few seconds include spectacular, gloomy Hammond solo in the vain of Ken Hensley’s well-known performance on “Gypsy”.
10. “T-Bird Angel” – cock-rock rock’n'roller similar to band’s output from 80s period. Not my cup of tea, but not very offensive either. Some fine heavy metal guitar solos here anyway.
11. “Kiss of Freedom” – the second semi-epic of “Into The Wild” is another highlight. Atmosphere is closer to power-ballad than real prog-rock but it’s still beautiful composition. Passionate vocals, organ floods and heavenly guitar solos make it a worth-hearing experience. However the best is last 2 minutes filled with extended Hammond B-3 solo where Lanzon shows his phenomenal skills once again.
12. “Hard Way to Learn” – some editions of this CD also include additional, 12th song called “Hard Way to Learn”. In fact I’m surprised that it wasn’t included on the main album because it’s better than “Believe”, “T-Bird Angel” and especially dreadful “Nail on the Head”. Overall very nice mid-tempo rocker with stomping rhythm, catchy vocals and smokin’ organ solo.
Summarize: “Into The Wild” has bigger amount of fillers than spectacular “Wake The Sleeper” (released 3 years earlier) but it still manages to remain as a must-have album for Uriah Heep fans and general lovers of heavy prog & classic hard rock in the vain of Deep Purple, Birth Control, Jackal, Frumpy, Tyburn Tall, Amish etc.
But I have to warn you that Uriah Heep is one of my very favorite prog-rock bands (along with ELP and early Eloy) so I may slightly overrate this release.
Best tracks: “Into The Wild”, “Lost”, “Kiss of Freedom” & “Trail of Diamonds”
1. Nail On the Head (4:16)
2. I Can See You (4:14)
3. Into the Wild (4:21)
4. Money Talk (4:44)
5. I’m Ready (4:15)
6. Trail of Diamonds (6:28)
7. Southern Star (4:26)
8. Believe (5:09)
9. Lost (4:51)
10. T-Bird Angel (4:01)
11. Kiss of Freedom (6:13)
Total Time 52:58
* Phil Lanzon / keyboards, vocals
* Russell Gilbrook / drums, vocals
* Bernie Shaw / lead vocals
* Mick Box / guitars, vocals
* Trevor Bolder / bass, vocals