There’s no talking about Blind Golem’s first full-length album without mentioning Uriah Heep. The Italians initially began as a Heep tribute band and desired to write their own music in a similar Seventies Rock style, going so far as to give the artwork that Demons and Wizards aesthetic and even getting Ken Hensley himself to record keyboards and slide guitar just months before his tragic passing. A Dream Of Fantasy (MaRaCash Records) makes for an inevitably derivative listen with that established, but it is also an undeniably infectious labor of love.
Right off the bat, the musicians absolutely nail the tropes for the style at hand. The guitars and keyboards in particular are dead on; the former mixes in an array of wah effects and acoustic minstrelry with its Classic Rock grooves as the latter chimes in with period perfect washes of organ and piano. The vocals don’t attempt too many of David Byron’s signature falsettos but deliver the melodies in a husky but pleasant timbre. Top it off with an extra vibrant, retro friendly production job.
The songwriting also does a good job of conveying the different vibes that made classic Heep so beloved. Songs like the opening ‘Devil In A Dream’ and ‘Scarlet Eyes’ hit the upbeat spirit of ‘Easy Livin’ while others like ‘The Ghost Of Eveline’ and ‘Star Of The Darkest Night’ expand on the ominous Proto-Doom of ‘Rainbow Demon.’ Their softer side also finds different ways to express itself as ‘The Day Is Gone’ is a somber slow burn, ‘Night Of Broken Dreams’ and ‘The Gathering’ are lighter-worthy power ballads, and ‘Carousel’ tries out some pleasant acoustics. The only thing that seems to be missing is a pastoral rocker on par with ‘The Wizard’ or a ‘Salisbury’-style epic.
Of course, there is certainly concern in having fourteen tracks to work with. Having so many does make a few of them seem redundant, but they’re all executed with unwavering enthusiasm. It’s hard to complain when the biggest flaw on an album is having too much of a good thing. If anything, it’s fun to think of this album as a greatest hits collection from an alternate universe.
Although the real Uriah Heep seems to actually be doing pretty well for themselves over fifty years after their formation, Blind Golem’s debut album makes for an enjoyable homage. The band has a firm understanding of their inspirations, bringing in plenty of memorable tracks and lively musicianship. It accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do and even listeners unfamiliar with their Seventies Rock idols could get something out of it. If they can craft a follow-up with a more compact presentation, they just might end up with a real masterpiece on their hands.
9 / 10