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This is actually amazing - 90%

Swarm, June 6th, 2008

I've been a Deep Purple fan for a long time, but only recently got hold of this album. I suspect my situation is a similar one for many other Purple fans, who are no doubt familiar with the band's 70s material, Perfect Strangers, but have only come across one or two songs they've done since. As it happens, they've released a string of solid albums since Richie Blackmore's departure, of which this is arguably the best.

Sure, you can really hear that Richie is no longer in the band, but Steve Morse really does do a phenomenal job of working with the rest of the classic MKII lineup. This album has everything. Ted The Mechanic, A Castle Full of Rascals, Hey Cisco and others have that typical organ-laden heavy Deep Purple sound, whilst other songs are a little more of a departure, in a good way. Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming is a true epic, and one of the best songs the band have ever done, Rosa's Cantina is surpisingly bluesy, and there's some folkish touches, particularly on the amazingly pretty The Aviator.

It's not the heaviest album in the band's career, but it's possibly their most beautiful. It's almost as essential as Fireball, In Rock, Machine Head and Burn, and miles better than Perfect Strangers even if it lacks the obvious hits.