Uriah Heep – life and plenty of it, in the ‘not so’ old dog yet.
Release Date: 27th January 2023
Label: Silver Lining Music
Format: digital / CD / vinyl
Not that we need any reminder that Heep is fifty and still going strong. When we saw their 50th Anniversary tour in Manchester last Autumn, the quintet to a man was in rude shape. A second wind blowing powerfully in their sails, not only did they deliver a full spectacle of power, lights and action but also delivered their own support with an acoustic set that went the extra mile.
And still, they power on with new music; Mick Box likely grinning his way through the whole process, as Chaos & Colour delivers a Classic Rock package in the finest of traditions. The opening bluster of Save Me Tonight is enough proof that the flame continues to burn brightly as they combine the chaos of the past few years with a burst of colour that not only decorates the album art, but places the emphasis firmly on the life-affirming power of music. “The power which music has, to make those bad times not quite so bad,” says Mick. Amen to that.
The Heep heritage of Classic / Prog influenced Rock also comes through intensely with mentions in dispatches for keyboard player Phil Lanzon who provides the ever-present array of textures as the canvas that Mick Box decorates with the experience of many years in his locker. Up front, Bernie Shaw turns in a majestic vocal performance that belies the advancing years of the band. It’s tempting to declare that this is as good as it gets. Energy, power, melody and a passion not dimmed at all by the years – perhaps more invigorated than anything else.
Recalling the glory of Gypsy, Hail The Sunrise is a slower-paced stomper of a track that finds Heep, quite appropriately, heralding and celebrating rebirth. For sure a contender for a modern-day Heep anthem. A reminder too that several references are made within the lyrics to the glory days of yore, while the dramatic You’ll Never Be Alone combines piano-led narrative with a fizzing organ-led frenzy. The latter adding fuel to the fire that Heep have their Prog chops to call upon when we need an alternative to the Heavy Rock core.
One Nation, One Sun provides the album’s power ballad – harmony, freedom, love, light and the overarching theme of positivity are duly reinforced. Even just a cursory glimpse at the song titles by this point induces a goosebump or two about the uplifting nature of Chaos & Colour. You’ll Never Be Alone, Age Of Changes, Freedom To Be Free, Closer To Your Dreams – those themes of light, love are a constant inspiration through the album’s eleven tracks. Album closer Closer To Your Dreams pulls no punches and provides a busy and furious bookender to provide one final clarion cry to get out there and do it, with Shaw adding the reminder: “Now it’s time for you to have your say.”
A set of sure-fire winners is backed up with Jay Ruston’s production which ensures a mighty and meaty force pumping from the speakers and the presence of Jeff Scott Soto in the songwriting stakes makes for a formidable recipe. While their peers in Deep Purple might be the higher profile go-to band when it comes to classic Heavy keyboard-based Rock, there may be a late challenge to their crown. What the majority of Uriah Heep fans have known for years.
Remaining both very ‘eavy and very ‘umble, Chaos & Colour finds latter day Uriah Heep at their most stirring and spectacular.
Here’s the lyric video for Hurricane: