An Unlikely Comeback by an Unlikely Proto-Metal Band

by delarue

Sometimes being snarky comes back to bite you in the ass.

On face value, the latest release by Uriah Heep, Living the Dream – which hit the web a couple of years ago and is still streaming at Spotify – screams out for snark. They only have one remaining member from the original late 60s lineup: guitarist Mick Box. Ken Hensley, whose smoky organ gave the British proto-metal band their signature sound, fled the coop forty years ago. The current lineup still includes a keyboard, but what compelling reason could possibly exist for keeping track of what they might be up to?

You know what? If you leave out the embarrassments that open and close the record, what’s in between actually isn’t bad.

They’ve kept the roto organ, but have also updated their sound to reflect that they know who Genesis are, and also Iron Maiden. Those looking for the original band’s haphazard, sledgehammer take on acid blues will be disappointed, but fans of workmanlike, thoughtfully assembled melodic metal from the 80s and beyond won’t. Box’s guitar solo at the end of the third track, Take Away My Soul is inspired and genuinely evil at the end. He also wails tantalizingly to wind up the song after that.

The Genesis quote in track six is hilarious. Frontman Bernie Shaw isn’t Ronnie James Dio, but the band are game and have managed to forge a new identity rather than living in a cheesy nostalgia time warp. Good for them.