(Album Review) URIAH HEEP - Chaos & Colour (Silver Lining Music)
Release date: January 27, 2023 Written by Jeff Tighe In 2018 Uriah Heep released the very strong album Living the Dream, their most consistent album in decades. Five years later the band has released Chaos & Colour, the 25th studio album since their 1969 formation, and one wonders how these old-timers will fare given their advancing age. The answer is: amazingly well. Chaos & Colour is easily the band's best album since 2008's kick-ass effort Wake the Sleeper and is one of their best albums of any era.
Heep have put together a great collection of hard rock songs that manage the extremely difficult writing task of all being catchy and memorable. This 11 song, 62 minute collection doesn't have any filler, and that is a testament to how mature their song writing abilities are. The songs are principally written by guitarist Mick Box, organist Phil Lanzon and drummer Russell Gilbrook.
Even a 8 minute song like "Freedom to be Free" which starts out a bit plodding and could have been a throw-away turns into a gem when the band goes through multiple time changes and adds various prog-rock flourishes and adds a catchy chorus. These guys were on fire during the writing and recording of this album.
Heep are true to their prog-rock roots with many time changes in each song, but it never turns into a boring navel-gazing exercise the way some of their albums did in the 1970s. In some places there are flourishes that hint of other bands, like piano parts reminiscent of 1970s Yes, or sections that sound like recent Alcatrazz or even latter-era Whitesnake. But it always comes back to the Heep sound.
Founding member Mick Box is in fine form at the ripe young age of 75 with his trademark string-bending sound on display during his solos. But it is absolutely clear that the greatest performance strength of the band is found in vocalist Bernie Shaw. Shaw has fronted Heep for the last 37 years and old-time fans who are stuck on original vocalist David Byron are missing some extremely powerful vocal performances by the 66 year old Shaw. The rest of the band, including bassist Dave Rimmer are all consummate professionals and there are no weaknesses to speak of, including top notch production. Stand out tracks include "Save Me Tonight", "Hurricane" "Closer to Your Dreams", but as mentioned, they are all somewhere between good and great.
Here's hoping they don't wait another 5 years for their next album. (9)