Thursday, October 19, 2017

Album Review: Europe - Walk The Earth

Here's a dirty secret about the glamorous world of music reviewing; the vast majority of the time we can write most of our opinion before ever hearing a record. The fact of the matter is that few albums truly surprise us. Most of them follow the established patterns that the bands have laid down over the years, just with differing degrees of success. So it was of note that Europe did truly surprise me with their last album, "War Of Kings". I was not expecting Europe to be a fire-breathing reinvention of Deep Purple, but that's what they were. Despite being known in a wider sense only for "The Final Countdown", their last album was both a shock and amazing. Now aware of their recent greatness, I was very much looking forward to hearing what comes next, which is where we are now.

The title track blares out of the speakers to open the album, picking up right where the last record left off, with crunchy guitars and roaring Hammond organs. I'm a bit of a sucker for those, but it's a sound that works so well in rock that it's amazing more bands don't follow suit. It's a muscular sound, but one that also has depth to it, which makes the songs more interesting than if there were simply two layers of guitars playing the same thing.

Europe continues to slay on "The Siege", which takes everything that was great about the title track, and dials is up even further. It's a weighty, heavy song that culminates in one of those great choruses that makes you want to stop your head-banging long enough to sing along. There's nothing complicated about it, but that's what makes it so good.

Over the course of these ten tracks, we get a healthy dose of high-quality hard rock. Europe are veterans, and that shows throughout the album, as song after song delivers the goods. Now, the question to ask is how this stacks up to "War Of Kings", since that album put Europe back on the map. It's a bit of a tough judgment to make, since although the sonics are the same, they are different albums. "War Of Kings" was a more laid-back and melodic album, while "Walk The Earth" is more in your face and aggressive. Which album is better might come down simply to which side of the rock equation you solve for.

What isn't up for debate is that Europe has followed up a very good record with another very good record. Myself, I find myself erring on the side of melody, so I would still say I prefer "War Of Kings" over this album, but that's splitting hairs. "Walk The Earth" is another great Europe album, and continues the momentum they established. If you haven't heard what Europe is up to these days, you need to. They're a more vital rock band than most half their age. "Walk The Earth" is good stuff indeed.

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