Early next year, Europe are touring Australia for the first time. There’s still a lot of tickets on sale, which is not surprising when you realise how many people think the only thing this band ever achieved was ‘The Final Countdown’. In the 80s, they had a string of hits in the USA and elsewhere, although they were basically a one hit wonder in Australia. They made two more albums before splitting up in 1992. In 1999 they reunited to play a special new years eve gig, and in 2003 made it official. Since then, they have explored some modern sounds before drifting towards a very classic rock sort of sound. John Norum was also busy in his time out of Europe, playing with Dokken and releasing a string of increasingly bluesy solo albums. At this stage, Europe released 5 albums the first time around and this is their sixth album since reuniting. It should come as no surprise then that in 2017 this is a strong, confident band making exactly the sort of music they want to.
What sort of music is that? It’s a long way from hair metal. The best way to describe it is ‘classic rock’. Every song on this album sounds like it could have been on the radio in 1979. With Mic Michaeli often opting for a keyboard sound that is very Hammond organ, and Joey Tempest’s vocal stylings often invoking Ian Gillan, the lazy comparison is with Deep Purple, but the fact is, songs like Wolves have single line riffs that evoke Led Zeppelin, the heaviness of Haze sounds almost like classic Dio, many of the vocal lines are quite Beatleish, but none of it ever sounds contrived or derivative. It’s not like they are copying bands from the 70s, it’s merely that they are tapping into that zeitgeist and quite obviously leaning more heavily on their own early influences, rather than trying to push towards anything new. It’s a wise choice, and one they carry off with aplomb. The classic 70s feel extends to the album having 10 tracks and running in at 40 minutes. Not a moment is wasted though, the album is varied and strong, it just doesn’t out stay its welcome.
The start of Pictures features some volume swell work, before starting almost folk with a strummed acoustic guitar. The song itself is a lush ballad. These sort of touches abound throughout the album, and this is definitely an album that rewards repeat listens. The guitar work deserve particular mention, with a lot of the tasty riffing being very reminiscent of a Ritchie Blackmore influence, but John certainly being his own man, with his own stamp on the music. The strength of the guitar playing is a major reason this album is just downright classy from start to finish. From heavier songs like GTO to the slower tracks, there’s a wide range of music here and all of it is well written and well executed.
The last track is called Turn To Dust’and it is a tour de force. It’s a slow rock song with lots of organ, a great breakdown, tons of incredible guitar and a final segue into what sounds like the end of a classic 40s big band blues song. At just under 7 minutes, it’s a super strong finish to a brilliant album and it just makes you want to start it all over again. If you thought this band was a one hit wonder, check out this album for yourself, and if you don’t have tickets to the shows, they are still on sale.
Grab the “Walk The Earth” here!