By the dawn of the 1980s, Uriah Heep was considered a relic in the heavy metal world and no one was surprised when they disbanded shortly after 1980s half-hearted Conquest album. However, everyone listening received an unexpected surprise when the band returned with a new lineup and a sleek, revamped sound on 1982's Abominog. If one can get past the Spinal Tap-like title and the gruesome cover art, this outing quickly reveals itself to be one of the most consistent and engaging albums in the group's lengthy catalog. The new Uriah Heep that debuted on this outing was a different animal from the gothic metal ensemble that barnstormed its way through albums like Look at Yourself and Return to Fantasy: echoes of the group's old style could be heard in the drama and instrumental firepower of the new songs, but the overall sound owed a greater debt to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and harder-rocking AOR groups of the time. The tone is set by opening track "Too Scared to Run," a dynamic rocker that contrasts its furious guitar-laden verses with a harmony-drenched chorus worthy of Queen. Other sharp rockers in this vein include "Running All Night (With the Lion)," a punchy rocker that pairs an ascending guitar riff with a singalong chorus, and "Hot Persuasion," a lusty metal opus that sounds like Foreigner gone metal crazy. Elsewhere, the band balances the hard rock with mid-tempo tunes that marry their energy to sweet AOR melodies: "Chasing Shadows" allows John Sinclair's keyboards to take the lead on a tune that marries power chords to synth pop hooks, while "That's the Way That It Is" became a hit single thanks to its combination of slick harmonies and an insidiously catchy melody. It's a diverse bill of fare but it manages to cohere nicely thanks to a tight, unified attack from the band that is built on the synthesis between Mick Box's thick guitar riffs and John Sinclair's symphonically layered keyboards. Special note should also be taken of the group's new vocalist, Peter Goalby: His emphatic vocal style suggests a cross between Ronnie James Dio and Lou Gramm. It fits the music's powerful-yet-slick style like a glove and provides the emotional intensity necessary to put the songs over the top. In the end, "Abominog" rocks hard enough to please heavy metal addicts but is slick enough to win over AOR fanatics and this combination makes it one Uriah Heep's most enduring achievements in the album format.
by Donald A. Guarisco