Uriah Heep play to their strengths on Into the Wild, the band's 22nd studio album in 41 years. Despite the group's reputation for personnel changes, its current members have mostly been in place for decades (drummer Russell Gilbrook joined in 2007), and they play like musicians who have been reading each other's minds on-stage during hundreds of shows a year for many years; the disc is full of cohesive musical teamwork, creating a unified sound. Like many long-lived outfits, Uriah Heep created a classic sound (the goth/prog style of the early ‘70s), then spent an extended period (mostly the ‘80s) modifying that sound to try to conform to contemporary styles, after which (starting with 1995's Sea of Light), they fell back on trying to re-create their golden era. The group is, in a sense, a tribute band to itself, and while it has worked steadily, it has recorded less frequently; Into the Wild's predecessor, Wake the Sleeper (2008), was the first new Uriah Heep studio album in nine years. Like Wake the Sleeper, Into the Wild sounds like an album that could have been made in the 1970s. From the outset with "Nail on the Head," the hard rock style is reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and, particularly, Bad Company, with singer Bernie Shaw often recalling Paul Rodgers. On songs like "Money Talk," which prominently feature Phil Lanzon's organ, Deep Purple is heavily suggested. The songs, mostly written by Lanzon with sole original member and guitarist Mick Box, have sturdy structures all the better for filling with soaring guitar solos and lyrics that, notably on the power ballad "Trail of Diamonds," can lean toward the mystical. There may be no new Uriah Heep classics here, but there are songs that can be slotted in the set list among the group's classics without sending fans rushing to the concession stands. Uriah Heep don't really need to make new albums anymore, but it's understandable that, as an ongoing outfit, they want to, and Into the Wild is a respectable addition to their catalog.
Into the Wild Review
by William Ruhlmann