Wake The Sleeper
2/9/2009 - Review by: Raising Iron
One of hard rock/progressive metals greatest legends returns after a ten year reticence with Wake the Sleeper, a powerful master stroke sure to please those looking for the Uriah Heep of yore. Granted, the only remaining original member is guitarist/founder Mick Box, but three of the four other musicians have been entrenched in the band for 20-25 years now, so this current lineup is solidified to say the least.
From their requisite debut, to the pop-oriented late 70’s output and on into the NWOBHM inspired classics Abominog and Head First, a retooling of sorts took place in the mid-80’s which in turn produced nothing of much relevance until 1998’s resplendent Sonic Origami. Fast-forward 10 years and here we are with their current barnburner, which is far and away their best output since the aforementioned Abominog.
The indispensable organ tones open the album up with a classic large choral movement which will send you right back to 1972, only with today’s modern production values. From here, the album never lets up, offering up ten true hard rockers that cull the best ideas of the bands first 2 decades of existence. A solid mix of the NWOBHM and progressive styles for which the band is known is on display here, yet the songs are decidedly pared down to straight ahead 4-5 minute rock constructs without any excessive interludes, bridges, arias, or instrumentally spanning segues. Mick is playing with the fire of a guitarist half his age, and Bernie Shaw’s vocals are quite reminiscent of original singer David Byron. The only striking dissimile to be found is the modern recording and mixing tools now at the bands disposal, for the production is rich, warm, and quite unlike what I’m used to hearing from these guys after several hundreds of spins of their early output over the years!
All in all, the Heepsters have graced us with a regal album, and anyone who’s enjoyed their earlier output over the years will do themselves well to pick this one up.
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