Ever since my childhood, I’ve been blessed by my father’s taste in music. Whenever we would drive somewhere, he would oftentimes pick the music and that’s precisely how I got to know about URIAH HEEP. While I already knew hit songs like “Lady In Black,” “The Wizard,” and “Gypsy,” in 2011 the British rock act released their album “Into the Wild,” on April 15th, 2011, which was for me a footstep into their whole discography and ultimately, I discovered a band that really defined the history of hard rock and heavy metal.
Three years after the excellent “Wake the Sleeper,” URIAH HEEP followed up with their twenty-second studio album, “Into the Wild.” While the reception, at first, may not have been overwhelmingly positive, mostly pointing out that this release is solid, yet leans too heavily on the elements that marked their success in the ’70s: Hammond organ riffs, perfect guitar solos, and energetic songs.
Album opener, “Nail on the Head,” is a solid rock song which centers around chugging power chords that are repeated throughout the whole song. This track is the most radio-friendly track on the album and I definitely understand why it was chosen as the band’s opening song, however, fans of the more progressive and epic side of URIAH HEEP may not find themselves liking this track as much as the rest of the album. Following up with “I Can See You” is an excellent choice, as it delivers somewhat of a contrast with a more trademark URIAH HEEP sound that could be easily part of 1973’s “Sweet Freedom.”
Title track “Into the Wild” is absolutely my personal highlight on this record, as both the lyrics and the music hit a sweet spot; it’s heavy, it’s epic, and it’s progressive. What’s not to like? “Money Talk” switches things up again, mostly focused around its organ riffs, reminiscent of the late Jon Lord‘s legacy. The bass on this track is also incredibly groovy and adds yet another layer. Everything is topped off by the organ extravaganza near the end of the track.
The energetic “I’m Ready” is another stand-out track that has a powerful and catchy chorus. This song’s atmosphere just makes it into one of the other highlights on this record and an excellent live track. The longest and most epic track on this album is “Trail of Diamonds”; the first half of the song follows a tranquil tempo with a beautiful calming atmosphere, then around the 2-minute mark, the song takes a different approach and lets go of its bittersweet melodies as Mick Box kicks in with a heavy guitar riff, which has a “The Magician’s Birthday” -feel to it. After a short reprise of the first section, the band dives into a more atmospheric approach and concludes the song in a perfect way.
Another radio-friendly track can be found in “Southern Star,” a bit more simple than the prior track, but not less fun. It’s great to sing along to because of its memorable verses and choruses. “Believe” follows a similar style – a great rock song, but not one that stands out on this album. One of the other hidden gems on this record is “Lost,” written by Trevor Bolder (this is actually the last album featuring Bolder before he passed away); additionally the bass player is also listed as a lead singer on this track and it definitely spices things up, making this album more diverse. “T-bird Angel” is a flashback straight to the ’80s and incredibly catchy too. They often say to save the best for last, so naturally another highlight on this record is the epic “Kiss of Freedom,” the mid-paced track is perhaps Bernie Shaw‘s best vocal performance on this record, but the best is yet to come with the extended Hammond solo, which fills up the last 2 minutes of this track and is something that makes this song linger for a while after listening.
“Into the Wild” may not be URIAH HEEP‘s best album, but was another excellent continuation of what they know best. They refrained from taking modern elements into this record and instead stay close to their roots and proud heritage, making this album a must-have for any URIAH HEEP fan. The record is incredibly diverse, focusing on both radio-friendly rock tracks, more progressive songs, and epics. Altogether this is a highly enjoyable album and a great way for anyone who hasn’t yet given this band a chance to discover their discography.
1. Nail On The Head
2. I Can See You
3. Into The Wild
4. Money Talk
5. I’m Ready
6. Trail Of Diamonds
7. Southern Star
10. T-Bird Angel
11. Kiss Of Freedom
Bernie Shaw – lead vocals
Mick Box – guitars, vocals
Phil Lanzon – keyboards, vocals
Trevor Boulder – bass, lead (9) & backing vocals
Russell Gilbrook – drums, vocals
Frontiers Music srl