Sound — 10
"Infinite" is the 20th album by hard-rock legends Deep Purple. And what an album it is! Just a reminder - all songs are played and written by:
- Ian Paice (drums)
- Roger Glover (bass)
- Steve Morse (guitar)
- Don Airey (keyboards
- Ian Gillan (vocals and harmonica)
The album consists of 10 tracks and clocks at around 45 minutes total. All song were written as a result of jamming and trading ideas freely in rehearsal. And that's how the best music is made!
Now for the fun part:
It sounds just beautiful.
- Drumming is just something you'd expect from Ian Paice - powerful and steady, played with great feel and some blues/jazz influences. Also it's played with so much ease you'd never say there's a man in his late 60s behind the kit.
- Bass: Roger Glover does a great job on this album. Again - as always. Not only complementing the drums and guitar, but also bass lines are fun to listen to, with a jazzy walk or faster riffs.
- Guitar is sharp and cuts clearly through the mix when it should, and provides background elsewhere. Steve Morse came up with some beautiful melodies and heavy riffs for this album. Also short licks thrown in here and there between the verses are a great touch. Solos are interestingly not a typical Steve Morse solos. He went in the heavier direction with some of them, of course still maintaining the signature melodicness.
- Keyboards - Don Airey proves his proficiency dealing phrases and solos with Morse to create Deep Purple signature Hammond&Guitar duo. What more to say?
- Vocals - Ian Gillan sounds surprisingly well on "Infinite."
As for the songs:
All of the songs are groovy and have catchy riffs, but each one is unique in a way.
You can divide the album in two parts - first 5 songs are more of a classical hard rock in style of Deep Purple, though with some interesting touches (i.e. in "Time for Bedlam" intro). And the second half... Well, the title of track no. 6. "The Surprising" says it all. Softer, eerie intro does not prepare you for what happens next. Here Deep Purple turn full progressive while still maintaining the Purple-ness and groove. And that's brilliant! This progressive style continues on towards the end of the album, which ends with The Doors cover - "Roadhouse Blues"
You can hear hints of the guys' sense of humour in some motives on the album, but check it out for yourselves ;)
The production is good. You can hear all the instruments and vocals clearly, and it sounds well altogether. It is sharp, heavy when it should and mellow when it's needed. I found it to sound best on my system with no EQ.
Lyrics — 10
While the rest were jamming and writing, Ian Gillan sat back in front of them and listened, giving comments and immersing himself in the music and writing lyrics. The result are lyrics that fit well with the music because they were written with the music. Each song has it's own topic varying from politics and control, through war, love, life of a broke man to the story about Johnny's band and some fun On the top of the World. In one of the interviews Gillan said he once was a very angry young man, then he calmed down and now he's "fucking furious again", and the "f" word is necessary. Well, he certainly sounds inspired, and you can hear he's pissed of with politics, but he can write some fun stuff too.
Deep Purple are and always were primarily instrumental band (and I mean that their songs rely heavily on music, not words). What is important to me is for the songs to have some story, some background or just tell something fun/interesting. And the lyrics on "Infinite" do the job.
Overall Impression — 10
All in all, to me it is their best album since 1994's "Purpendicular" and maybe even their best? It's the marriage of hard rock with progressive. The sound is clear and sharp, songs sound inspired and fresh, and really everyone in the band does seem to be at their best. You actually CAN HEAR the fun they had recording this album, and that's saying something for a band of 60-70+y. o. men. And the atmosphere of a jam session with everyone being a master of their own instrument transfers well into the music.
What I love is that most songs were recorded in only 2-4 takes. This allowed for the freshness and energy to be heard on the album. And I know I repeat myself 3rd time, but it is fun to listen to, and you can actually HEAR the FUN they had. I won't go as far to pick the best song on the album, all are solid, and there are no weak spots to me. But probably "The Surprising" is my favourite.
Definitely a must have for all the fans of both old and modern Purple and I'd recommend to buy the version with DVD documentary, it's a great add-on and provides insight into the album's writing and recording process. And watching these old men jam with so much happiness and positive emotion is really heartwarming.