Swedish rock legends Europe will release their 10th album, War of Kings, in March 2015 on UDR Records. Recorded at the brand new PanGaia Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, produced by Dave Cobb (Rival Sons) and engineered by John Netti, War of Kings sees the classic rocking quintet confidently creating 11 monstrously melodic, yet hard-hitting, classic rock’n’roll standouts for their fervent global audience. War of Kings will be available in multiple formats, as a CD digipak, a CD jewel case, a vinyl LP and in digital download format. The album will be released in the UK on March 2nd, Japan on March 4th (via JVC), the EU on March 6th and the US on March 10th.
Joey Tempest: “War Of Kings is the album we always wanted to make, ever since we were kids listening to bands like Zeppelin, Purple and Sabbath. And after hearing Dave Cobb amazing production for Rival Sons we simply had to work with him. Our adventure is still ON!” Europe’s place as a legendary classic rock band was platinum-stamped early in their career, having enjoyed an explosive period of worldwide success in the ‘80s, under-pinned by their hit album and single The Final Countdown, before going on hiatus between 1992 and 2003. They re-united and quickly settled into a period of re-establishment which has seen them re-enforce their reputation worldwide as one of the premier purveyors of blues-tinged classic rock with an edge and some kick. Their last album, 2012’s Bag of Bones, saw Europe hit the UK top 40 rock album charts and debut at #2 on the Swedish national charts, and War of Kings is set to take full advantage of the global groundwork Europe have put in over the last few years.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOgVa–DyVI]
“So, what does it sound like?”, I hear you cry. Knowing how much I loved “Bag of Bones”, I really thought that following it up was going to be a really tough act. Moreover, was hiring the Rival Sons’ producer potentially a gimmick to chase a “current” sound (and potentially bury “that” song for once and for all. Lead single and title track, “War Of Kings” sets their stall out from the off. With a dash of Zeppelin, and some classic latter-day Europe riffing working with the subtle Hammond from Mic Michaeli the band provide a superb backdrop to highlight Mr Tempest’s voice. Here’s a man for whom the years have just made his voice gain a power and style that oozes passion and belief. No more the band to be ridiculed for their 80s “hair band” rise to fame. John Norum has to be the most under rated guitarist in rock, riff after riff and stunning blues drenched solos abound throughout the album – “Hole In My Pocket” starts with a wah wah infused intro which then feeds into an upbeat rocker of the highest order.
“Second Day” starts with a keyboard and bass intro that clearly puts the Roll in Europe’s Rock. Telling the tale around an almost biblical 7 days of creation – Joey sings of searching for something we never quite reach. Track 4, “Praise You” is very bluesy. Clearly, this represents a band happy in their skin and wanting to make a grown up album to suit their fanbase’s new and improved taste in rock. Oh, and the producer? Dave Cobb simply enables the band to sound like … well, Europe in 2015.
“Nothin’ To Ya” ups the pace a little again, kind of brooding with an air of controlled menace. Then comes that uplifting Hammond organ start to “California 405”, again something of reflection suggested in the lyrics but coupled with the kind of positive vibe to accompany the wind in your hair freedom of an open top car drive along the coast on a warm and balmy summer’s night. “Days Of Rock n Roll”, great little catchy guitar riff to open up perhaps the most upbeat track of the album so far. So good I suspect that this could easily open the set at their forthcoming live dates. Track 8, “Children Of The Mind”, starts with a whispered and moody introduction that then builds into a groove fuelled favourite – with Ian Haugland battering seven shades of stuff out of his drum kit Full of Eastern promise as the old TV advert said, and that is how I would describe “Rainbow Bridge”. I’m not sure if the poem about an other worldly place where pets go after death and await the arrival of their owner came to mind when the song was written – it’s a possibility as that belief has similarities to the Bitfrost bridge of Norse mythology?
“Angels (With Broken Hearts)” is a slow blues, which allows Joey’s soulful voice to shine (if more opportunities were needed. A beautiful song, lamenting the way we are destroying our world. “Light It Up” brings the standard edition to an upbeat, rampant end. A potent and powerful closer. A bonus track on the extended edition is the instrumental “Vasastan”. Some extremely tasteful and technical guitar work from John Norum, but not at the expense of melody. A gently beautiful beginning that is filled with atmosphere, then slowly picks up the rest of the band to produce a song that reminds me so much of the late (and VERY great!) Gary Moore. Stylish but never too showy ad after a fade there comes a return to the main theme of the title track … and so as we begin, so we end? Lots of reflection and beauty from a band clearly relishing their place in music. Happy to celebrate the past (be it in recognising the influence on the formative years of the band or in their own history), Europe are arguably more relevant now than at any point in their 30+ year history. This WILL be in my Top 10 of 2015.
Joey adds “Hey! We took the long road! but we wanted to re-establish Europe the proper way. It’s taken 10 years and countless tours since the re-union, but we’re finally getting there! And we’ve done it our way!”
Europe will commence their roadwork supporting War of Kings with a UK/Ireland tour in Dublin on March 2nd (their first visit to Ireland in 25 years) before continuing in the UK with Black Star Riders.
Joey – “Looking forward to ‘tons’ of touring in 2015! It’s getting harder and harder to be modest and humble about this band! It doesn’t get much better than this!”
Europe are :
Joey Tempest – lead vocals, acoustic & rhythm guitar, keyboards
John Norum – lead & rhythm guitars, backing vocals
John Leven – bass, backing vocals
Mic Michaeli – keyboards, piano, backing vocals, rhythm guitar
Ian Haugland – drums, percussion, backing vocals
War of Kings track listing is as follows –
War Of Kings
Hole In My Pocket
Nothin’ To Ya
Days Of Rock n Roll
Children Of The Mind
Angels (With Broken Hearts)
Light It Up
Bonus: Vasastan (Instrumental)
Europe/Black Star Riders UK/Ireland Tour dates are as follows:
02/03/2015 Dublin – Olympia Theatre
03/03/2015 Belfast – Ulster Hall
05/03/2015 Glasgow – O2 ABC
06/03/2015 Glasgow – O2 ABC
07/03/2015 Newcastle-Upon-Tyne – O2 Academy
08/03/2015 Leeds – O2 Academy
10/03/2015 Nottingham – Rock City
11/03/2015 Cambridge – Corn Exchange
13/03/2015 Manchester – Academy
14/03/2015 Wolverhampton – Civic Hall
15/03/2015 Exeter – University
16/03/2015 Bristol – O2 Academy
18/03/2015 Bournemouth – O2 Academy
19/03/2015 Norwich – UEA
20/03/2015 London – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
21/03/2015 London – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire