URIAH HEEP — Abominog (review)

URIAH HEEP — Abominog album cover Album · 1982 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
The best Uriah Heep album of the 80's

After a half-decade of more or less convincing art rock wandering, plus the explosion of punk and the new generation of metalheads, URIAH HEEP could difficulty survive in its current form. Therefore what should logically happen happens: Ken Hensley - one of the two original members responsible of several hit titles - left the band, resulting in the split of the quintet. After multiple hesitations, the other original member, Mick Box, finally decided to reform the HEEP by calling Lee Kerslake back, the band's main drummer during the seventies, and recruited ex-TRAPEZE singer Peter Goalby, ex-OZZY OSBOURNE bassist Bob Daisley and future OZZY OSBOURNE keyboardist John Sinclair. So what could we expect from a recomposed dated art-prog-rock band from the 70's, without its brain, already searching for renewal since several albums, for the turn of the 80's? Well, in fact... a pretty good surprise, really.

"Abominog" is a nice and punchy mixture of direct AOR, hard rock but also of a slice of NWOBHM and a touch of fantasy. After a mediocre try, URIAH HEEP starts the eighties again with a new youth! A transformed quintet for a strengthened approach: rarely before played the band this ferocious! However, don't be mistaken: despite its cover art, somehow demonic title and release date, don't expect pre-thrash / black metal on this album. Even if we're surely not in prog-land any more, fans will still recognize some HEEP's markers here: typical keyboards, powerful choruses and cool melodies, this time coupled good riffs and a harder sound. There is one last particularity to mention about this disc though: half of the songs are covers from 1979-1980 rock titles.

First the new compositions. From the very beginning of "Too Scared To Run", you can hear the reconstructed URIAH HEEP wanting to catch up with the young generation. This dynamic opener is definitely a little NWOBHM bomb! Wow! "Chasing Shadows" is a synth FM rock with a light fantasy ambiance. Simply the best song of the record. On the opposite, "Hot Persuasion" is rather average and flat. Same goes for "Sell Your Soul", which darker and slower passages are the only interest. Concluding the disc, "Think It Over"'s creation dates back to the recording sessions of 1980's "Conquest", the band's previous album. With its short spacey intro, keyboards and chorus, this epic track is the one that resembles the most the band in their 70's.

Let's now talk about the covers. Mainly located in the middle of the disc, they're often pretty nice and match the overall quality of the new compositions. The rearranged version of RUSS BALLARD's "On The Rebound" is a cool "hard new-wave" song, while "Hot Night In A Cold Town" is softer. Another effective title is "Running All Night", in the pure tradition of 80's big rock. The two last covers are unfortunately less convincing. "That's The Way That It Is" is enjoyable but not very remarkable, whereas "Prisoner" aims at calming the pace down but this ballad is a bit soapy and lengthy.

Concerning the 2 bonus studio tracks, "Tin Soldier" starts well in an epic ambiance in the style of MAGNUM, but fails at really lifting off. Contrarily to "Son Of A Bitch", a muscular and direct AOR title, with a slight touch of fantasy. Simply rocks!

Let's go straight to the point: if you're allergic to 80's synthesizers and guitars or expecting 70's fantasy progressive epics, this new HEEP won't fulfil your desires. Furthermore, the music sounds quite dated and has some weaker moments. Apart from these points, "Abominog" is a fun and lively record, offering simple, direct and punchy hard/heavy FM rock, kinda "Adult Oriented Metal".

A lesser-known but underrated album, URIAH HEEP's best in the eighties! Raging at times but never really violent, kind but not too much, the music is finally in par with the creature depicted on the cover: A gentle little demon...
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