Legendary Swedish rock band Europe are due to release their latest album, “Bag of Bones” at the end of April. The album was recorded with producer Kevin Shirley who has produced albums for Iron Maiden, Joe Bonamassa, Black Country Communion, Black Stone Cherry and Journey, a pretty impressive CV.
They say lightening doesn’t strike twice, well in my household it did, when I finally got round to listening to the their last opus ‘last look at eden’ I had to convince myself it was Europe by taking the cd out and having another look at it, just to make sure I had the right one.
‘Last Look At Eden’ was not what I was expecting from Europe. A marked change in direction from the mostly melodic ‘Secret Society’ release, ‘Last Look At Eden’ simply rocked.
So here we are again with me reaching for the eject button on the cd player, not quite, I stopped myself just in time. Having previously heard the single ‘Not supposed to sing the blues’ the 2nd track on this opus, I waited until it kicked in with its monster opening riff, and then settled back to enjoy the rest of the album.
If you thought ‘Last Look At Eden’ was great, this new one raises the bar again.
From the opening track ‘Riches To Rags’ with its heavy funky rhythm, it is clear that we are in for something special.
What can you say about the track number two, ‘Not supposed to sing the blues’ except the album version is a bit longer than the single version, and if you haven’t heard it, where have you been these last few weeks, it is being played absolutely everywhere.
A killer track with a killer hook.
Firebox changes the tempo of the album yet again, with a Sitar being used to great effect, very reminiscent of the Kashmir arrangement before bowing out to a John Norum solo, he is on fire on this album.
A beautiful acoustic piece opens the title track, ‘ Bag of Bones’ before the vocal joins in, followed by a swirling keyboard section before the hard rocking rhythm section joins, This song has more twist’s and turns than an Italian mountain pass, it is soon clear that this is a semi-departure for Europe, exploring new territories, but is it a very successful one ?.
Joe Bonamassa makes sure it is, as he plays slide guitar on this track and nails it down, tight.
This is destined to be a future classic.
‘Requiem’ which is a short instrumental track, before ‘My Woman My Friend’ opens with piano and vocals leading into Zeppelinesque big drums. There is an undercurrent of Zeppelin sounds on this cd, especially the flurries from the keyboards and a fair bit of Black Country Communion mixed in, courtesy of Kevin Shirley. It all works together great
“Doghouse” was the first song fans got to hear from the new album – it was played on their tour early last year and was included on the live DVD – “Live at Shepherds Bush” that was released last year, another great track.
Finally, the album’s closer is the classy ballad ‘Bring It All Home’, but this is not a typical boy loses girl track, this is more of a backwards glance review by Joey Tempest of better times gone by. The track is rounded out by another classy, blues soaked solo supplied from the fingers of John Norum, neatly wrapping up this release.
Incredible virtuoso playing from John Norman, coupled with Joey’s vocals make this an album a ‘must have’ 10/10.
Europe will be playing the Download festival this summer and touring Europe in the later part of the year with UK dates in November
Birmingham 02 Academy – Wednesday 21 November
Glasgow 02 ABC – Thursday 22 November
Manchester HMV Ritz – Friday 23 November
Newcastle 02 Academy – Sunday 25 November
Leeds 02 Academy – Monday 26 November
Nottingham Rock City – Tuesday 27 November
Bristol 02 Academy – Thursday 29 November
Cardiff Coal Exchange – Friday 30 November
London 02 Shepherds Bush Empire – Saturday 1 December
“Bag of Bones” will be released on 30th April via earMusic.
01. Riches to rags
02. Not supposed to sing the blues
04. Bag of bones
06. My woman my friend
07. Demon head
08. Drink and a smile
10. Mercy you mercy me
11. Bring it all home
Photo by Fredrik Etoall