‘War Of Kings’
2015 release from UDR.
Joey Tempest – Vocals. John Norum –Guitars. Mic Michaeli – Keyboards. John Levén – Bass. Ian Haugland – Drums.
Artist Location: Stockholm, Sweden.
Reviwed by David.
- War Of Kings.
Europe returned in 2015 with their latest offering and their fifth album since coming back from their 11 year hiatus in 2003 and this time they go back a bit more to their roots with a little bit of a darker vibe.
Europe is one of my absolute favorite bands and I don’t think they have had a bad album yet, though their first two albums are certainly their weakest in my opinion. This isn’t their classic sound of radio friendly stadium rock that most everyone knows them for, nor is it ‘Last Look At Eden’ or ‘Secret Society’ either, but it is still a solid record with some excellent material on it.
Pulling heavily from some of their influences, they give us an album that screams of that classic 1970’s rock sound with touches of Rainbow, Dio, Black Sabbath and even some Led Zeppelin here and there.
Indeed there are some really great moments to be found here. This album was not an instant love for me, I will admit. Not for lack of liking the style or the sound, I just had to spend some time with it and give it several spins to get into this style for Europe. This is not the big, anthemic numbers the band gave us back when they were releasing such classic albums as ‘Prisoners In Paradise’ or my personal favorite, ‘Out Of This World’, but as this extremely talented group of artists show us, that is most definitely not a negative as it is still a really great record.
Tempest’s vocals, while having aged of course and not able to hit those high notes anymore, have still held up incredibly well and he sounds utterly fantastic here as usual, especially on songs like ‘Angels (With Broken Hearts)’, one of my favorite tracks from the album. A simply wonderful, bluesy ballad where, as stated, Joey sounds sensational.
Norum, as always, is outstanding on guitars, though there seems to be a severe lack of his scorching solos on this record which I miss as he is one if my favorite guitarists. Levén and Haugland are both masters of the bass and drums and prove themselves over and over on the album.
If you go into this record expecting another ‘Prisoners In Paradise’ or ‘The Final Countdown’ then you will be sorely disappointed as there is very little in familiar territory here with those records. However if you have enjoyed their latest few releases and are fans of 70’s rock staples such as Rainbow, Dio or Sabbath then you will probably find just as much to like here as I did.
The title track is one of the strongest tracks on the album (check out the link to the music video above), followed by the catchy ‘Days Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’ and the aforementioned fantastic ballad ‘Angels (With Broken Hearts)’.
Unfortunately these guys were pigeonholed early on in their career, not unlike Warrant. Anyone that considers this band to be a one hit wonder or only knows them as that band that sang ‘The Final Countdown’ does not know this genre of music and certainly does not know this band. While the song was, and is, an incredible song to be sure, it would not even make my top ten list of songs from these guys, that is just how good their other stuff is. They have continually put out superb records that are, in my humble opinion, staples for the genre. This record is no different.
I love this band. I love their enthusiasm, I love their sound and I love their music. This is a great album. Perhaps not the strongest outing from this classic band, but a very solid record nonetheless and most definitely worth your time to check it out.
‘War Of Kings’.
‘The Second Day’.
‘Nothin’ To Ya’.
‘Days Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’.
‘Angels (With Broken Hearts)’.