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"Blackmore and Lord left. So, there is no deep nor purple anymore..." and that's something to debate, a strong argument which has lots of points in favour and against.
But Don Airey and Steve Morse are brilliant performers. They pushed so hard in "Bananas" that eventually forced Gillan and Paice to return in this album to some of their older days of greatness. Even Glover, still way behind of what he used to do, tries to give some fingers for the work here and "Rapture of the Deep" contains several hard-rocking tunes worthy of your attention. And of more attention than what it gets.
So, is it better than "Bananas" to some extent? No. "Bananas" was solid as a whole, but here we can find some big flaws that can be accepted because of the effort made to "try to return" to the grand game. Money Talks, for instance, is a good opener. Of course far behind those legendary ones in the golden era, but way different and better than previous ones. Gillan gives it a try and impresses us all. Not that he melted the irons here, but hey, something is something. Of course, none of this could have been achieved without Airey and Morse. "Wrong Man" slows the beat, but what can we possibly do? We are, yet, far from the finest momentum and there are only "slight returns" here. Same with "Girls Like That" with its funny lyrics and beats and with some progressive licks and stuff, but nothing more.
With "Rapture of the Deep", the magic returns in the shape of an ancient Persian tune with Airey and Morse once again taking the lead. Paicey returns to the majestic throne and drops us some nasty drumming we weren't listening to in a long time. A nice piece which now belongs to DP's canon of live songs.
What else can be said about the next songs? Not many and not least. They are filled with a hard-rocking edge with a mix of progressive licks thanks to Airey. Morse fills every vacuum with his talented fingers, especially in "Don't Let Go" and "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye", good fillers with nice personality. The flaws in this record, though, are a couple of songs I just can't save even if they have some tremendous lyrics: "Back to Back" and "MTV". The former, talks about how the average men is no longer using his brain and the latter is about the music industry. Yes, they are right about the lyrics, we praise it. But the execution, I mean, the musical construction just doesn't work. Funky, greasy, and way too poppish despite whatnot fragments of heavy beating. These pieces don't belong here and my idea is that those were fully made by Gillan, Glover, and Paice, disappointed in their low sales of previous albums and without any influence of Morse and Airey, two guys enjoying their time in one of the most legendary bands of all of history.
The cover art, which has a "deep" idea beneath, gets some extra points no matter what you can say about it. This album is just as good as "Bananas" 'cause it contains great songs, especially the title track, but as well it has some big flaws like "MTV" and "Back to Back". Nevertheless, the slight return is well-appreciated here and this album deserves your attention, at least for a moment of rapture.
Sure, this may not be "heavy metal" in the purest sense, but let me tell you confidently, this album rocks harder than 99% of the other stuff being released as hard rock today. As fathers of the heavy metal genre, Purple deserve a certain amount of respect, and I respect them even more for not resting on their reputation, and continuing to produce a high level of hard rock. (Not to mention, very few bands composed of much younger musicians can sustain the amount of touring that DP still do every year.)
My first thought before hearing Rapture of the Deep (I had not heard their previous album, Bananas) was "I can't believe Jon Lord left the band; will this even sound like Deep Purple?" Well, I heard the opening organ riffs of the album, and Don Airey immediately won me over. He is an exceptional organist, who can play with almost as much technique and power as the great Jon Lord. But I would be doing the band a grave disservice, if I reduced the work of the band down to one member's input. After all, some Deep Purple fans STILL complain about Richie Blackmore's absence. C'mon folks, it's time to accept the truth: Richie's gone, he ain't coming back, and Steve Morse is a guitarist who has "earned his stripes," so to speak. Morse has been more of an asset to Deep Purple's sound in his many years in Purple, and has probably contributed more to the continuing success of the band than Blackmore ever did. Don't get me wrong, Richie Blackmore is a talented guitarist, and I will always treasure his work with Deep Purple. But if we were to give him a report card for his work with DP, it would probably have to say "does not work well with others" somewhere on it. So, let me say categorically, Steve Morse and Don Airey are true Deep Purple members, and together, they know how to make the sparks fly.
Then, of course, there is the mighty Ian Paice. This is a drummer who has always known how to lay it down...solidly. Rapture of the Deep is no exception. Once again, from the very opening of the album, Paice's work is a solid rhythmic foundation upon which the rest of the band can build their majestic house of rock. Roger Glover, as always, is there for beautiful bass work, which leads me to what has always been my favorite thing about Purple...Ian Gillan. The voice! This is a man who is about the same age as my father, and he is sounding better than he has in years! The screams, the edge, the sense of humor...it's all there on this record. Many rock 'n' roll fans will wax rhapsodic about Robert Plant, but for my money's worth, Gillan has always been the hard rock vocalist who has set the bar. And he's continuing to set it...HIGH...on Rapture of the Deep.
I don't think there's a weak track on this album. Some of my favorites: Money Talks (a tremendous opener, sets the tone for the whole record); the title track (sweet, sweet, SWEET organ and guitar); MTV (funny, funky, and true--a wry observation on the foibles of classic rock radio). I'm telling you, if you've fallen into the trap of dismissing Deep Purple as dinosaurs, or as simply "the guys who did Smoke on the Water in the 70s," go get this album, and have your eyes opened. Deep Purple is rocking and rolling in a way that very few bands (many of them composed of much younger musicians) are doing in this pop-loving age.
Legends, keyboards, icons, road-pavers…what else can be said about Deep Purple? The status-quo enjoys ranting about “Machine Head” or other timeless releases, yet items created after the pay-day bonanza are left in the dark, forever lonely. Shame on those that willingly ignored everything conceived past “Purpendicular.” The dawn looks on 2005, when the elderly faction produced a mega-fast follow up after 2003’s “Bananas” with “Rapture of the Deep,” another conception attributing the MK-pi lineup of Ian Gillian, Steve Morse on guitar, Ian Paice still drumming, Roger Glover, and the unknown Don Airey that replaced John Lord after his sudden departure. Perhaps this explains why Deep Purple hath experienced modern-day banishment. However, “Rapture of the Deep” is fantastic: epic, cruising, catchy, and one of their best. Quite a gutsy claim, yet the group progresses beyond their usual formula without flaw; again, they show us why Deep Purple has become Deep Purple. They might not have the strength to lift a stack of papers because of old age, but if you can still rock better than your competition, forget those papers! Pick up those instruments, and make me deaf, damn it!
Blackmore and Lord are not present here due to unrelated departures, but do not fear potential dissatisfactions! “Rapture of the Deep” flows in an experimental light when being compared to previous offerings Deep Purple conjured, but only bright glows can be found in the chameleon’s change. Steve Morse has been often viewed like a black sheep, mainly because of his former work as a progressive rock guru; however, his touches from the other side are magical. Morse’s dazzling powers create complicated riffs and insane solos alongside the usual rock side (which rules, I might add) without leading things astray. The riff on the title track, for instance, spells Arabic-folk influences rather than thumping hard rock; although different, it is ultimately the record’s highlight.
Don Airey also fills big shoes like it was his lifelong test, only to match John Lord’s finger-plucking effortlessly. Dripping organs as a waterfall does mist, his atmospheric additions and nutty leads are completely motivating upon this identity. What’s there to say about Ian Paice and Roger Grover? They continue testing themselves: Grover improves his finger-madness to dangerous levels, while Paice tames the percussion with iron sticks and hands quick as sound itself. Now connect them together, and the door opens: progressive-influenced hard rock preaching mighty dynamism. Lyrically, Deep Purple seems a little pissed off, particularly on “MTV” in which the television station receives a verbal haymaker for praising trendy artists instead of well-developed bands; kindly impolite, that’s how you assault with words. Organs, ripping solos, groovy bass, spastic percussion…I’ve reached my rapture!
Ah Ian Gillian, are you just a wonder singer, or the second coming of Christ? We may never know. Regardless, this great vocalist delivers his finest performance in years, or possibly since he joined (or rejoined, or re-rejoined) Deep Purple before time was created. Although in his sixties at the recording, Gillian still nails high-pitched notes with ease, dabbles in bluesy tones, and generally does what we’ve always expected. Throughout certain passages, the original Jesus Christ Superstar adds corky tints unto his shining vocals, like the humorous questioning placed towards the conclusion on “Money Talks.” Again, Gillian’s voice could survive on its own, yet that kind of stuff just rules. Can he ever fall? “No,” said the judge.
Deep Purple is far from dead, folks! As an insurrection of their age, “Rapture of the Deep” is groundbreaking upon this liberation for a new day; they could have relied on basic norms, but newness was applied instead. Quite so, I find our presented record alike a paroxysm, slamming and bashing the listener with everything these gentlemen have, but while staying loyal towards what this respectful tribe always achieves: clumps of consistency, always bouncy and entertaining. “Rapture of the Deep” is the eighteenth record Deep Purple has created within multiple decades of staying louder than everything else, and I can only give you one warning: your shit will be rocked!
This review was written for: www.leviatan-magazine.com