By Bob Nalbandian

Wake The Sleeper

It's been 10 long years since the great Uriah Heep released their last studio record. Was it worth the 10-year wait?? You're Goddamn right it was! Founding guitarist Mick Box has kept the Uriah Heep legacy alive since the late '60s, that's four full decades of churning out classic hard rock music. Some periods obviously better than others, but ask any die-hard Heep fan and he will undoubtedly tell you that the band were in their prime in the early '70s. And their latest release on Sanctuary/Noise/Universal, Wake The Sleeper, takes the listener back to the spirit and sound of classic '70s-era Heep! Truly one of the best comeback records of the new millennium, Wake The Sleeper packs enough power and punch that proves this band still has the integrity and vigor to keep the Heep alive throughout the next decade. The eleven songs displayed herein not only exemplifies true classic metal but it preserves the bands signature sound: loud classically influenced guitar mastery atop magisterial Hammond organ and brilliant harmony vocals. Uriah Heep have undoubtedly proven that they remain one of Britain's true Kings of classic metal! The opening title track sets the pace for what's to come. A driving yet complex guitar riff highlighted by Phil Lanzon's Hammond mastery (much in the vein of original Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley) bearing brilliant 5-part vocal harmony wizardry, "Wake The Sleeper" penetrates deep and unleashes the potent, old-school metallic energy that has severely lacked in rock music over the last two decades. This song will surely propel you into air-guitar frenzy! The track that follows, "Overload," is equally fantastic, a catchy and ultra-classy hard-rocker exhibiting the vocal brilliance of Bernie Shaw. "Tears Of The World" is another standout, sounding as if it could have been an outtake from the Demons And Wizards record. While tracks such as "Light of a Thousand Stars" and "Book Of Lies" are bit more on the commercial radio-friendly tip (reminding me of early '80s-era Magnum) they are nonetheless brilliantly written. Other favorites include the slow-building rocker "Angels Walk With You" and closing epic "War Child." If you're an old-school hard rock/metal fan like myself in search of new music that exudes classic metal mastery or if you're a young metal fan seeking the true meaning of "classic metal" than Wake The Sleeper is the answer to your prayers.

Living On Another Freqency
Mascot Records

Upon first listen to the opening track, "Sci-Fax Theme," I thought to myself "Not another'70s Parliament meets modern-ProTools instrumental fusion/funk-rip-off!" But then the second song "Lookin' For Eden" kicked in and thankfully brought my hopes up. After reading over the bio I see that Science Faxtion is the musical project/production of Greg Hampton and Bootsy Collins (which explains the opening track) and also features an array of talented session musicians including drummer Chris Collier and guitar freak Buckethead. Hampton's soulful vocals atop Bootsy's funky space-bass mastery is impressive, and although I think Buckethead is a genius guitarist I can't stand his thin robotic guitar tone (which incidentally stands out like a sore thumb on the new G&R album.) It sounds as if he plays his leads through a fragmented Rockman. Most the songs featured herein are fairly unique and compelling like the heavy industrial-fueled Sabbath-like riffs in "Chaos In Motion" and the interesting time changes in "L.O.A.F." I do give the band/project credit for showing diversity, from the Lenny Kravitz sounding "Gone Tomorrow" to the Chili Peppers-ish "Life-IS IN-DeLiver." Yet the only real standout track is perhaps the hard-hitting "Fatally Flawed Flesh." This more or less seems like a "fun" project to stroke the aforementioned musician's egos rather than to satisfy music fans. But for fans of heavy funk-rock, this may be your calling.

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