In their 45th year, English prog rockers Uriah Heep have released their 24th studio album. The album, Outsider, is the band’s first album since 2011’s Into the Wild. This also the band’s first album since the passing of bassist Trevor Bolder, who lost his battle with cancer last year. Like its predecessor, Outsider is another great album from Heep that delivers heavy tunes and sensational harmonies. Uriah Heep currently consists of singer Bernie Shaw (since 1986), guitarist Mick Box (since 1969, the band’s sole original member), bassist Davey Rimmer (since 2013), drummer Russell Gilbrook (since 2007) and keyboardist Phil Lanzon (since 1986).
The album opens with the sonic “Speed of Sound.” Right off the bat, Heep are off to a good start: the lyrics are strong and Lanzon’s keyboard work is impressive. The lyrics describe how fast life goes by. “Sometimes I can’t keep my feet on the ground/I can’t let go,” sings Shaw. “My world is spinning just like the speed of sound/I can’t let go, it’s all that I know.” This is followed by the lead single, “One Minute.” The song opens as a piano-led song until the keyboards and guitar come in. I can’t help but notice that the guitar riff sounds somewhat similar to Heep’s classic “Bird of Prey.” While the song isn’t the best choice for a lead single, it is indeed a very catchy song.
Heep continues to shine throughout the album. Throughout their 45 years together, Heep have teetered in between being a progressive rock band and a hard rock band. This is no exception on Outsider, as the band are really both. Hard rockers come in the form of “The Law” and the title track. The former has an impressive guitar solo from Box while the latter showcases Rimmer’s bass playing skills. The band, however, gets progressive on the beckoning “Is Anybody Gonna Help Me?” and the spacey “Kiss the Rainbow” (though the latter is less progressive). The band even dabbles in “jock rock” with “Rock the Foundation.” The chorus is particularly corny (“baby’s gonna rock the foundation/Cos’ baby’s doesn’t really care/Baby’s gonna cause a sensation/Cos’ baby wants a love affair”) but damn, is it catchy!
“Looking at You” is another highlight from the album, with its fast-paced feel and soaring harmonies. Heep are known for their vocal harmonies, as it is present in a majority of their work. If someone needs to be convinced the band still has it, “Looking at You” will prove this. My personal favorite song off the album, however, is “Can’t Take That Away.” The song is a throwback to old school Heep, with a fast gallop ala “Look at Yourself” and “Easy Livin’.” The song has a strong carpe diem attitude with a chorus that Heepsters can live by: “There’s one thing in life that you do best/Just do it well/And you can’t take that away/No you can’t take that way.”