Deep Purple in the twenty-first century are very much like Pierce Brosnan's James Bond - a suave, charming and elegant composite of the best bits; recalling and updating past glories without breaking into a sweat, never really pushing the boundaries but being interesting enough to justify a new release every couple of years. And there's no invisible cars or over-long action sequences to ruin this one.
Rapture of the Deep was written and recorded in five weeks, and it shows. The band have reverted a bit too happily to formula, most notably with the token (abeit quite pretty) jangly-guitarred ballad 'Clearly Quite Absurd' and a handful of generic, dull-chorused hard rockers. It's all pure Purple, of course, marked out by bluesy riffs, prominent keyboards and the unmistakable vocals of Mr Ian Gillan, and none of it's actively bad, but it doesn't rival the band's best work and too often sinks into a morass of blandness. Occasional highlights (the end of 'Back to Back' in particular) seem like desperately improvised attempts to fill time without obviously re-using material, tank chase in Goldeneye stylee.
Nevertheless, there are a few attempts to do something a bit more complex and they are, on the whole, successful. The utterly adorable title track has a delicious Asian flavour reminiscent of the band's mid-eighties albums (which, to continue the Bond analogy, is like revisiting... oh no, let's not go there), and the closing 'Before Time Began' starts life as a melancholic paean to more innocent times before rocking out in true Purple style. Lyrically both yearn for something fresher and more substantial, although how that squares with making an album of sonic wallpaper is anyone's guess.
5Nick Lancaster.'s Score