Swedish melodic-rock band Europe shot to fame when, after some Swedish success with their first two records, the 1986 album The Final Countdown became a worldwide phenomenon, selling over three million copies in the USA alone. Their big hair and big melodies were in the right place at the right time as that album and the follow-up Out of This World were Top 20 US hits, along with two top 10 US singles in the shape of "The Final Countdown" and the big ballad "Carrie", with the former hitting number 1 in 25 countries, including the UK, France, Italy and Germany.
Grunge took care of Europe, as it did so many others, and they shut-up shop in 1992 after Prisoners In Paradise. They did play one show to celebrate the millennium, but didn't get back together until 2003, when The Final Countdown line-up reunited with John Norum returning as lead guitarist, rather than his replacement Kee Marcello. Now I must admit that I wasn't much of a Europe fan first time out, but having seen the reunited band live, I was persuaded that things were more to my liking this time around.
This is their third album since they got back together, following on from Start From The Dark and Secret Society, and sees them continuing on the heavier, darker, rockier road that their reunion has seen them take. And, in the main, it's is an excellent release.
The title track is an outstanding opener, with the guitars of John Norum and the keyboards of Mic Michaeli vying with each other in a who is heaviest competition. Joey Tempest's voice is deeper and richer than it was in their high flying eighties, but the music needs the extra depth that he brings. John Norum even gets a chance to get his blues on, on tunes like "Catch That Plane", something that they wouldn't have been capable of pulling off, twenty years ago.
There are a couple of big ballads thrown into the mix. After all, they'll still want to keep the ladies sweet! The best of them is "New Love In Town", a song that is followed by the contrasting, bludgeoning "The Beast", which is as close to heavy metal as Europe are ever likely to get. There is a brief sag in the middle around "Mojito Girl" and "No Stone Unturned", which aren't up to the high standards set by the other songs, but it doesn't really spoil things.
Rockin', bluesy, funky and melodic rock albums don't get much better than this one. So, if you've missed out on the Europe reunion, buy it, enjoy it, rock it!