Europe - War Of Kings

I had the luck being one of the fans who got to attend the exclusive playback of the album in Stockholm on February 23rd, so we got to hear it cranked up on full volume in a conference room before it was released. That gave a great opportunity to focus on the songs and analyse them. And with that I mean analyses made by someone who can’t play any instrument or sing!

The album was recorded in the brand new PanGaia studio in Stockholm, with Dave Cobb producing it. I think this album represents Europe of today well – Mature, sophisticated and melodic – and it also melodically takes them back to their roots paying tribute to their major influences when they started out back in the day; such as Thin Lizzy, UFO, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath.

 The vintage gear, Hammond organ and mellotron makes the sound warmer and more alive, the sound picture feels broader to me than on the 3 first albums after the reunion. Joey Tempest’s voice also has matured well over the years, it’s strong and solid throughout the album. A thing I kind of miss on this album though is the harmonies. But the rest is great!
 
The first track is War Of Kings, and I’ll quote my dear mother here; “Sounds very European”. Sorry about the pun! But I agree, it’s very Europe. I really like it; it’s majestic, it’s heavy and melodic.
It’s a bit like Last Look At Eden off the 2009 album with the same name, it’s got a similar feeling. John Levén’s bass riff has to be commended as well, sounds really good!
 
Hole In My Pocket comes next; a great rocker that will work perfectly well live! It reminds me of Riches To Rags from the Bag Of Bones album. I love John Norum’s guitar sound here, it’s aggressive and sneaks in between Joey’s lines, along with the keyboards.
The Second Day has been compared to No Stone Unturned from the Last Look At Eden album. The drums and bass creates a nice foundation, together with the airy guitar and keyboards over that, along with the lyrics. I find it easy to listen to.
Praise You slows it down a bit, a nice laid back track. Norum’s bluesy solo sounds great. To me it feels like he’s got free hands on this album.

Nothin’ To Ya is another nice straight forward rocker with a really nice melody floating through the catchy chorus, and California 405 has indeed an American feel to it.
Days Of Rock ‘n’ Roll is an extremely catchy tune! I can’t wait to hear this live. Upon listening to the melody I thought of Thin Lizzy and UFO, you hear who the major influences of the band were, which is nice!  Definitely one of my favourites!

Children Of The Mind is a heavier sounding track with groovy bass lines and Mr Norum letting loose completely during the solo!
Rainbow Bridge follows, and I love the oriental feel to it! Recent day Deep Purple comes to mind hearing this. Where do I find this rainbow bridge?

Track no 10 is Angels (With Broken Hearts), which was written after receiving the news that Jack Bruce had passed away. The lyrics are beautiful and something everyone can relate to, and it’s bluesy and emotional both lyrically and melodically.
Last but not the least is the swinging Light It Up that finishes this album in style, another nice track.

I’ll include Vasastan as well, a bonus track. It’s an instrumental piece that brings Gary Moore’s The Loner to mind, and the harmony between the guitar and keyboards is amazing. Very beautiful, says this sucker for instrumentals!
 
For those of you who still believe they sound like they did in 1986, here's the official video for the first single War Of Kings.
 
 


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