Head First

Uriah Heep

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Head First Review

by Donald A. Guarisco

After rising from the ashes with 1982's impressive Abominog, Uriah Heep continued to pursue a similar combination of heavy metal firepower and AOR sleekness on Head First. This album lacks the consistently strong tunes and unified feel of its predecessor, but it still offers enough highlights to make it worth a listen. Head First does best when it concentrates on songs that evenly balance power chords and pop hooks: "The Other Side of Midnight" cleverly balances a boisterous pop-tinged melody built on a pulsating bassline with plenty of powerful guitar riffing while "Weekend Warriors" layers its shout-along chorus over a slick rock backing that fuses programmed synthesizer lines with high-flying guitar work and relentless double-time drumming from the ever-reliable Lee Kerslake. However, Head First occasionally loses the plot when it strays from this balancing act: "Love Is Blind" works too hard to ape AOR conventions and comes off sounding faceless as a result, while "Roll-Overture" is an ornate prog instrumental that doesn't really fit in with the rest of the album due to its lack of hooks and guitar riffs. The album also runs into problems in the lyrical department due to its overt AOR-styled reliance on the travails of love as its main subject matter (see "Sweet Talk" and "Love Is Blind"). Despite these occasional shortcomings, Head First manages to work, thanks to its consistent high level of energy. Even at its poppiest, the album throbs with guitar-fuelled energy: for a good example look no further than the band's cover of Bryan Adams' "Lonely Nights," where the poppish quality of the melody is boosted into the hard rock stratosphere by a lengthy succession of guitar riffs and a relentless backbeat. In the end, Head First's adherence to AOR stylings may turn off some hard rock fans but there is enough energetic, well-crafted music here to please anyone who liked Abominog.

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