Uriah Heep - Wake The Sleeper
Classic Hard Rock
11 songs (51'05)
Release year: 2008
Uriah Heep, Sanctuary
Reviewed by Marty
Major event
If you're familiar with all the hard rock heavyweights from the 70's then Uriah Heep should be no stranger to you. The David Byron (RIP) fronted era of the band from 1970 until 1977 was the most prolific and most successful of the band's career. The band has continued in one shape or form ever since it's inception with founding guitarist Mick Box being the only remainder from the original line-up. Original drummer Lee Kerslake recently bowed out due to health issues with new drummer Russell Gilbrook taking over. Bassist Trevor Bolder, aside from a brief departure in the early 80's, has been handling bass duties since 1977 and keyboardist Phil Lanzon as well as vocalist Bernie Shaw, who has been with the band since the early 90's round out the line-up. This new album Wake The Sleeper is the band's first album of new material since 1998's Sonic Origami and sees the band coming full circle in delivering an album that celebrates all that is great about the classic Uriah Heep sound. This album is better than almost anything since the glory days of the 70's and parks itself with conviction right in between albums like Sweet Freedom, Wonderworld and Return To Fantasy as far as the overall feel and sound.

The album opens with the title track, and man this one smokes!! It's a double bass fuelled barnburner that features Mick Box's signature wah guitar sound with the only vocals lines being chants and the title of the song for the chorus. From this point on, Mick Box and company take the listener on a journey through almost the entire history of Uriah Heep. Tracks feature solid and muscular guitar riffs with the trademark swirling Hammond organ resurrecting the long lost true spirit of the band. Tears Of The World has an Easy Livin' type of feel and is more than several examples of just why Bernie Shaw is the perfect vocalist for this band. Sounding eerily similar to David Byron, he nails the older classics in concert like no-one else can. Light Of A Thousand Stars features spirited riffing and a soaring vocal. Very uplifting and inspirational in quality, the Hammond organ brings chills, as does the huge classic Heep chorus. Both Overload and Heaven's Rain also feature the big "meaty" Mick Box riffs and Hammond organ sound with Heaven's Rain having an excellent and soaring guitar solo. What Kind Of God is the type of track that is destined to become another Heep classic. Building and dramatic in nature, this amazingly emotional track tackles the numerous conquerings taken place in our history in the name of religion and the toll it's taken on human lives. With a stunning and soaring chorus, this is the best track from this band in decades! Angels Walk With You and War Child offer a slightly darker tone yet with the strong layered voices and classic sound still ever present. Book Of Lies and Ghost Of The Ocean are both more driving and up tempo tracks with Shadow once again showing just how important and vital the fusion of Mick Box's guitar and the Hammond organ is to the sound of Uriah Heep.

Bernie Shaw sounds amazing on this album and I swear that the spirit of David Byron still flows through him today. I can even picture David Byron singing almost any one of these tracks and he probably wouldn't stray too far from Bernie's interpretations. Russell Gilbrook has also turned up the energy a notch or two with his drumming style and Phil Lanzon manages to capture the classic Ken Hensley Hammond organ sound perfectly. Although still valid as a touring band, Uriah Heep's album material ever since Ken Hensley left back in the late 70's has been somewhat hit and miss. With the addition of Bernie Shaw, they were finally able to re-create the classic Heep sound of the 70's. Subsequent albums like Sea Of Light and Sonic Origami started a new cycle in the history of the band and now with Wake The Sleeper, Uriah Heep has come full circle to where their new material actually stands proudly beside the classics of the 70's. I've been a huge fan of this band ever since hearing The Magician's Birthday back in 1974 when I was a very impressionable 13 year old. Nothing in the last 30 odd years since Return To Fantasy has excited me as much as this album does. Every track is strong with some absolute killers! Like getting reacquainted with a long lost friend, this album brings both a sense of nostalgia and a promise of an extended future for the band. Not only can they still rely on the classics to delight the fans in concert, they now have some excellent new material that they can be very proud of. For long-time fans of this band you must get this album. It's exactly what we've been waiting decades for this band to do.....

Killing Songs :
Wake The Sleeper, Tears Of The World, Light Of A Thousand Stars, What Kind Of God and Shadow
Marty quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Uriah Heep that we have reviewed:
Uriah Heep - Living the Dream reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Uriah Heep - Salisbury reviewed by Goat and quoted 85 / 100
Uriah Heep - Very 'Eavy... Very 'Umble reviewed by Goat and quoted CLASSIC
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