EUROPE “War Of Kings” /CD/

The tenth full-length studio album by the legendary Swedish Hard Rock band.
Keeping roughly the same lineup for almost 29 years, 2015 saw the band's 10th album and first under UDR Records. Whereas the past two albums were rather mellow in comparison, the new release has seen them come back heavier, more technical and, essentially, bigger.
The Northern Kings of Hard Rock wage a war in the title track, opening the album. Cutting through with a heavy, driving, bass-driven riff, it promises to deliver the more Metallic vibes that the 'heavier' fans have been waiting to return since "Secret Society". As one could expect, the songwriting is spectacular; great thought obviously being put into choosing this piece as the album's first shot fired. Joey Tempest's indomitable vocal talent shows no audible signs of aging. Similarly displayed in the feel-good "The Second Day", a mid-paced AOR-like track that capitalizes on its catchiness, the instrumentation lightly arranged to thicken the chorus and dissipate, adding breeze and flow to the verses; but then, if you would like to remind yourself of how Europe performs those killer, enormous, Euro-style choruses, this is the track to turn to.
"Praise You" is the transition from a thick, groovy, almost Stoner-like intro riff to a lilting, Bluesy and Spacey series of verses is both jarring and relaxing; a strangely functional juxtaposition. This track also contains one of the album's best choruses and the best example of songwriting on the album; the sonic 'sweet-spot', if you will, where glorious riffs and powerful vocals intersect.
"Children of the Mind" also deserves to be boldly highlighted; easily one of the more Metallic tracks, it's riffs a powerful mix of technicality, groove and catchiness. Joey's voice also takes leaps and bounds, holding powerful notes long and high.
"Angels (With Broken Hearts)" is the 'lighter-raiser' of the album. The slowest track, and arguably the quietest, minimalism is used to sublime and seminal effect; lyrically prominent, with melodies guitars and keyboards used to colorful and emotive effect.
This is definitely Europe's strongest record in years. Normally gravitating to the more technical and 'ridiculous' of the Metal universe. Not only a tremendous release for the Metal and Hard Rock world, but a testament to the band's career, and an excellent, explosive start to the year!!
Hell & Back Recordings/UDR GmbH, 2015 (UDR 0482 CD). Made in Germany. First press.

1. War Of Kings 4:36
2. Hole In My Pocket 3:42
3. The Second Day 5:23
4. Praise You 4:34
5. Nothin' To Ya 3:54
6. California 405 3:31
7. Days Of Rock 'n' Roll 3:05
8. Children Of The Mind 4:30
9. Rainbow Bridge 3:16
10. Angels (With Broken Hearts) 5:19
11. Light Me Up 6:10
Total playing time: 48:00 min.

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