Europe

Walk The Earth Hell & BacK Europe’s best al­bum since their 2003 re­turn shows the band con­fi­dently look­ing for­ward.

Classic Rock - - THE HARD STUFF ALBUMS -

When there’s a swelling key­board in­tro to this al­bum on the ti­tle track, you might have thought that Europe were re­vert­ing to the sound they had back in the late

80s. How­ever, as the song opens up, it be­comes clear that this is def­i­nitely not a band look­ing wist­fully back to hal­cyon days, but one that’s strid­ing de­ter­minedly for­ward on the strength of an edgy, en­er­getic, fresh per­spec­tive.

Ever since they re­united in 2003, the Swedes have steered away from their big hair rep­u­ta­tion and cleared out any no­tions of liv­ing off what they achieved back then. In­stead, they’ve gone for a heav­ier, more lucid ap­proach that em­u­lates their heroes, such as

UFO and Thin Lizzy.

This is the sixth stu­dio al­bum they’ve done in this pe­riod, and the best so far. For one thing, it’s a lot more nat­u­ral, al­low­ing John No­rum to stretch out on guitar and for Joey Tem­pest to show­case a voice that has grit and bite, as well as huge melodic ap­peal.

You can hear this com­ing quickly into fo­cus on The Siege, which has a hard tim­bre, yet also nods to­wards the more East­ern re­frains of Zep­pelin, thanks to some deft key­board sweeps from Mic Michaeli. And the darkly ad­he­sive King­dom United al­lows the band to am­ply fea­ture some neat No­rum tricks, nestling along­side Michaeli’s evoca­tive punc­tu­a­tion.

The pace slows on Pic­tures, but this is no soppy power bal­lad as it has an un­der­ly­ing ag­i­ta­tion, Europe em­pha­sis­ing to us that they aren’t with­draw­ing into the past. And Elec­tion Day quickly shakes out the dust with some brisk work from drum­mer Ian Haug­land. Mean­while, Wolves has a deep-set, rum­bling ire that brings to mind the re­cent record­ings from Deep Pur­ple, which is ob­vi­ously no bad thing at all, and GTO also has in­fer­ences from Ian Gil­lan et al.

The best is saved for last, though, as the epic al­bum closer Turn To Dust beau­ti­fully bal­ances changes in pace and mood on a song that manages to be both tune­ful yet also a lit­tle dis­con­cert­ing.

This is where Europe reach a new level of achieve­ment, prov­ing that they have now brushed aside any re­main­ing doubts about their va­lid­ity in the cur­rent era.

Walk The Earth is su­perbly pro­duced by Dave Cobb, who high­lights all the pos­i­tive as­pects of the band on an al­bum that brings up new as­pects of en­deav­our and cre­ativ­ity ev­ery time it’s played.

An ex­cel­lent re­lease from the ren­o­vated and re­ju­ve­nated mod­ern gi­ants.

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