This is the year of Deep Purple. 2013 marks the year when there's finally new material from one of the world's greatest rock'n'roll dinosaurs. Not only that; everyone's saying that this is the best Purple album since so and so way back when. Since I'm not too familiar with other DP material than the gargantuan rock album 'Machine Head', I can't really relate to anything else than the quality of 'Now What?!', unburdened as I am of expectations based on the releases of the past three decades.
So, what's it like, then, this new wonder? The 'All the Time in the World' single I reviewed some time ago was promising, indeed, with its two new songs. All the Time in World is a moving, quiet, beautiful, somewhat Chris Rea like piece which keeps growing on you, and Hell to Pay is one of the more straight-forward and hard-hitting rock tracks off the album.
Album opener A Simple Song starts with something which is exactly that: a simple, acoustic intro which allows Gillan's characteristic voice to ooze into your ears - only to venture into a bang of a rock section which sounds a lot like my definition of what Deep Purple is. Next up is the surprisingly proggy rock tune Weirdistan, a thread the ensuing Out of Hand picks up on with it's Middle Eastern theme. Bodyline introduces Ian Paice in the forefront and a boogie-struck rock tune. If I were to pick one song I could do without from 'Now What?!' this would probably be it, even if I can't deny that the chorus is catchy.
Above and beyond starts off with a warm riff and accentuated keyboards which reminds me a bit of Whitesnake. A power ballad is the best description I can come up with - and a nice one at that. Blood from a Stone is also a ballad of sorts, however with a short, but teeth grinding chorus.
Uncommon Man takes us into the territory of big, spacy sound - yeah, prog again. It has a jam feel to it at the same time. A special track, and very cool. The rock magic continues in Aprés vous; Don Airey in particular manages to capture a Jon Lord sound on this track and throw us all back to a different time.
In Vincent Price, Airey lets the church organ speak. In this tribute to the horror film icon, Deep Purple really rattle the chains and play around with effects as well as a bombastic, proggy sound. Not really a song I'd seen coming, but a pleasant surprise. Again; very cool stuff.
The edition I have here contains the bonus track It'll Be Me, a fine bluesy rock piece, as well as a bonus DVD with the two live tracks from the 'All the Time in World' single live tracks plus an interesting 20-minute interview with the entire band about the making of the album and their views on the music industry.
Right now, I can't wait to see Deep Purple live for the first at Wacken this year. I reckon I have some catching up to do on their back catalogue, but so be it! The year of Deep Purple is upon us!