Deep Purple's 2005 album Rapture of the Deep generally maintains the quality of 2003's surprisingly sturdy Bananas. It's the second release from the re-energized lineup of vocalist Ian Gillan, guitarist Steve Morse, bass guitarist Roger Glover, drummer Ian Paice, and keyboardist Don Airey, who replaced the retired Jon Lord. The band's comfort level has increased, and after nearly a decade onboard, Morse's stamp is all over the place. At first, this guitar genius' presence was noticeable because of what it lacked -- the incredibly distinctive Fender Stratocaster electric guitar tone of Ritchie Blackmore. Thus, sometimes Deep Purple didn't sound like Deep Purple. However, the variety of tones Morse incorporates in his style gives the pioneering heavy metal quintet more sonic weaponry. Airey's long, respectable career as a journeyman keyboardist-for-hire pretty much guaranteed he would largely adopt Lord's organ-based style, at least at first, but he has expanded his sound on Rapture of the Deep too. "Money Talks," "Girls Like That," and "Wrong Man" ride strong riffs and rhythms into decent grooves. "Rapture of the Deep" floats along on a lightly hypnotic wave. The mature ballad "Clearly Quite Absurd" has a lilting, controlled tempo, and it's the biggest surprise on the album; Gillan's singing is appropriately subdued while Airey's piano supplies the beauty and Morse's gradually ascending riffs toward the end build the tension. "MTV" is a vicious, bile-spewing, all-out attack on how the modern music industry treats classic rock/heritage artists, although in 2005 Deep Purple clearly appeals more to VH1 Classic than MTV. Initially, the song risks biting the hand that feeds by correctly criticizing classic rock radio for not playing new music by veteran artists. The last verse is a cannon blast that pummels clueless, uninformed disc jockeys who, during interviews, butcher artists' names ("Mr. Grover 'n' Mr. Gillian"), get facts wrong (misinterpreting the Frank Zappa-inspired "Smoke on the Water" legend), and avoid in-depth discussion of new music (like Bananas) in order to record more station IDs. Rapture of the Deep -- Deep Purple's first album for Eagle Records -- misses equaling Bananas by a notch or two, but it's a good example of how many veteran artists still maintain creative vitality. ~ Bret Adams
Mojo (Publisher) (p.110) - 3 stars out of 5 - "Purple are sounding astonishingly fresh. The album's standout track, 'Clearly Quite Absurd', is an elegant meditation on love and misunderstanding..."
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