RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Europe – War of Kings  

Rating: B+

Europe hit the big-time back in the day with the love song “Carrie” and one of the most over the top hard rock songs ever released, “The Final Countdown.”  So yeah, the band basically is famous for the most iconic poppy sounding keyboard riff ever to be played within a hard rock song!  Admit it... when either of these two songs comes on the radio, and you’re alone, driving by yourself in the middle of nowhere… you crank them up to 11 and sing along!  I would be willing to bet more than a few of the bands biggest detractors even have these songs hidden on their iPod. 

Europe’s FM/MTV hits may have been relegated by time to ‘guilty pleasures’ for many hard rock fans, but don’t be fooled… the band is much more than simply happy ear-candy.  They are proving it too, with their latest release, War of Kings.  This release demonstrates the band is more interested in making the style of music that influenced them as musicians instead of creating something to get on the radio.  The result is one of the best classic hard rock albums to be released so far in 2015. 

Lead vocalist and guitarist Joey Tempest states in the press release that the band’s approach to the new album, “War of Kings is the album we always wanted to make, ever since we were kids listening to bands like Zeppelin, Purple and Sabbath. And after hearing Dave Cobb’s amazing production for Rival Sons we simply had to work with him. Our adventure is still ON!”

Indeed, this album rocks!  Some detractors have claimed guitarist John Norum is not ‘out front’ enough with his guitar solos on this effort, but this reviewer does not understand that criticism.  Norum’s solos are hard hitting, and while there are very few extended passages, he plays with power and attitude on every song. 

This is a case where Europe went for the feel of an entire album over individual tracks.  Each song complements the next, and there is plenty of hard rock and melodic mastery in every track.  Perhaps Norum’s effort is simply overshadowed by his bandmate Joey Tempest’s performance.  That would be easy to understand, as Tempest shines on this sucker from the first time he opens his mouth to his final note! 

The album will be available for fans in multiple formats including a CD digipak, a CD jewel case, a vinyl LP and as a digital download.

Tempest sums it all up best by stating, “Hey! We took the long road! But we wanted to re-establish EUROPE the proper way. It’s taken 10 years and countless tours since the re-union, but we’re finally getting there and we’ve done it our way!”

War of Kings tracklisting:
1) War Of Kings
2) Hole In My Pocket
3) Second Day
4) Praise You
5) Nothin’ To Ya
6) California 405
7) Days Of Rock n Roll
8) Children Of The Mind
9) Rainbow Bridge
10) Angels (With Broken Hearts)
11) Light Me Up

Bonus: Vasastan (Instrumental)
Joey Tempest – lead vocals, acoustic & rhythm guitar, keyboards
John Norum – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
John Leven – bass, backing vocals
Mic Michaeli – keyboards, piano, backing vocals, rhythm guitar
Ian Haugland – drums, percussion, backing vocals
For more information on EUROPE, please visit www.udr-music.com/index.php/europe-band, www.facebook.com/europethebandand www.europetheband.com.

By Jeb Wright