Europe are back with their 11th album, “Walk The Earth”, but this is not another record on their catalogue. It is another statement that the Swedish hard rock veterans have given a new dimension to this “rock veteran” term. In simple words, since they have been reunited in 2004 with an exceptional record (“Start from the Dark”), they keep on releasing great hard rock records, with fresh ideas, re-inventing themselves and trying to discover new music paths each time they enter the studio for a new album.
From the first mellotron riffs on the self-titled opening track, you may consider yourself entering an interesting music trip. This anthemic track has everything needed to put you in the right mood: emphatic guitar and mellotron riffs, Tempest’s remarkable vocals and the sense that this brand new record is going to be an awesome one! The production is crystally clear. It couldn’t be different as the band has chosen to work one more time with the successful producer Dave Cobb and record the album in the legendary Abbey Road studios, where bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd and others have recorded monumental albums. Watching the footage from the recording sessions, the band sets a humble tone for being and working there, but on the other hand, they seem to have a lot of fun and this is easily noticeable on the sound of the songs as well. Mr Norum is doing his things on the Stratocasters and the Gibson Flying Vs, where riff after riff, he proves no need to do so, since he is one of the most talented and inspiring axemen of hard rock for decades. Ian Haugland beats his drums like there is no tomorrow and composes an unbeatable rhythm section along with John Leven, contributing to the massive and thick sound that the album has. Mic Michaeli treats the mellotron, the piano and his keyboards in general, in such a compelling and appropriate way and creates a beautiful 70s atmosphere, a nostalgic one, like in the track “Pictures”, where there is also a flavor of David Bowie in the middle section of the track but also in the vocals of Tempest.
The album has a general melancholic and moody tone, as primarily set by the keyboards and the guitar riffs. But it also has quite a few up-tempo moments. Like “Election Day”, a song that you want to listen to again and again. This is where the high quality of these albums lies. The album has this charming and catchy character on every song, something that proves the high level of Tempest and the rest of his bandmates as songwriters. “Wolves” is another heavy song of Europe which has been added to my favorites list due to its heavy riffs and solid sound, but also due to the slow-paced solo of John Norum, who knows exactly how much heavy riffs to add each time on a single song, he does it so perfectly on the Europe records but also his solo albums. “GTO” is another example of an uplifting song with a perfect blend of the rhythm section, the guitar riffs and the Gillan – like vocals of Tempest. “Haze” continues the heaviness spread out all over the album and then you catch yourself headbanging a bit on the rhythm of the guitar and drums. Magic! All songs possess a natural structure and flow, which is evident throughout the record.
Europe are back, and they are back for good. Their catalogue spans from the early 80s, where they had that melodic hard rock identity, but as said before, the band itself left it all behind in 2004, and since then, “Walk the Earth” is one of their most solid, heavy, catchy and self-conscious albums, which I am sure you will find interesting, if you just open your mind and ears and let the band take you on this music journey.