Album Reviews

Europe – Walk the Earth Review

Released by: Hell and Back Recordings

Release date: Out Now

Genre: Rock, Classic Rock

Links: europetheband.com

 

Line-up:

Joey Tempest- Vocals

John Norum- Guitar

John Levin- Bass

Mic Michaeli- Keyboards

Ian Haugland- Drums

 

Track Listing:

  1. Walk the Earth
  2. The Siege
  3. Kingdom United
  4. Pictures
  5. Election Day
  6. Wolves
  7. GTO
  8. Haze
  9. Whenever You’re Ready
  10. Turn To Dust

 

Europe is such an interesting band to be a fan of and know their history. From their early days as Force to their first couple offerings as Europe, their sound tended more towards a kind of proggy melodicism that all but vanished on their next three releases that were much more polished, majorly melodic and became quintessential 80’s hard rock then when they returned after their 13 year hiatus, they have managed to come back heavier than ever, delving back into their earlier style, while remaining super melodic and polished. Perhaps there are fans of the band that hold allegiance to one of the three distinct eras while most seem to be like myself- a fan of the band as a whole. It’s their eclectic-ness  that has always appealed to me, on top of the masterful musicianship and that powerful voice of Joey Tempest. Even during their super cheesy days during the 80’s I always felt a love and affinity for them even while I was moving more towards the heavier side of things with the Thrash Metal revolution. All of their reunion albums have been fantastic, but the last three (starting with Last Look At Eden) have shown a massive up-tick in their writing and presentation. This growth has culminated into their latest offering Walk The Earth.

From the opening track you already know that the album before you is going to be dark and perhaps their heaviest yet, and it is, but it is also one of their strongest albums. Any comparison to the big-haired version of Europe is out the window (and has been for a long time now.) No knock against Kee Marcello’s time with the band, but John Norum is the best player the band has ever had, and is not only one of the best guitarists going in general, but also has a keen ear for what works and what doesn’t for the Europe sound (past and present.) His signature hard edged blues sound is such an integral part of the sound of Europe these days, even more so on Walk The Earth. This is very much a guitar driven album, with keyboards used more as enhancement than the driving instrument, and that in turn gives Tempest the chance to show he has a very strong vocal ability beyond being able to sing lush ballads and catchy hard rock songs. Again, I have no shame to admit that I love, love, love their earlier albums, but this new direction of the band works for them so much more. Songs like “Haze,” “Election Day,” and “Whenever You’re Ready” pack an equal amount of hard rock with a Zeppelin-ish edge to it fueled by Norum’s blues tinged licks and a brilliant melodic style that bears no resemblance to the Europe most of the world remembers while still maintaining that essence of the band.

I will require a few more listens, but Walk The Earth could easily be their best album. As someone who loves heavy music as much as the lighter fare, modern day Europe is as close as anything I can think of that satisfies both of those loves damn near equally. If you have avoided checking out later day Europe, you really owe it to yourself to give them a shot. If you absolutely hated them during their heyday, just know they’re not that same band, outside of still remaining immensely talented musicians (and not to leave them out or take away from what they do for the band, members John Levin, Mic Michaeli, and Ian Haugland are just as integral to their style now too, and always have been.) Of course, if you’ve followed the band all along, this is an album you must own.

 

Written by: Chris Martin

Ratings: 9/10

 

 

 

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