I owe a lot to Europe concerning my later musical searches and evolution, as they were and still are the band that was my first love in music. Albums like ‘’Wings Of Tomorrow’’ and ‘’The Final Countdown’’ are landmarks in the whole hard rock scene and they couldn’t pass unnoticed back then. Also, seeing the constant smiles on their faces, eventually became something like influence to me, I remember watching them giving interviews or playing live and smiling all the time and I once told myself ‘’that’s how I want to be in my life too, positive and smiling’’. Years passed and the band split up on the highest peak of their inspiration and status. A decision that shocked the world back then, but was something showing how respectful they were to theirselves and their fans too. Over a decade later, Europe decided to reform in total surprise and not only this but since then, they have released three albums -‘’Start From The Dark’’ (2004), ‘’Secret Society’’ (2006) and ‘’Last Look At Eden (2009)- which proved that the fire still burned for the smiling Swedes.
I was very fortunate to see them in 2009 in France and a dream came true, but the best of all facts was that I saw them gaining the full respect of a total metal crowd. The most positive in all was the fact that Europe showed they were really making it for fun. Money? There have been plenty since the old days. Proof? Give me a break, people never forgot their great albums and compositions. Motive? Just make what they wanted the way they wanted, having warmed their relations between them after almost twelve years. 2012 finds them releasing their fourth album since their reformation and ninth in total, ‘’Bag Of Bones’’. Don’t expect many changes compared to the previous three albums and moreover, don’t expect them to change today’s music, they have already written history after all way too many years ago.
The mood is mid tempo in the most parts with a much heavier sound as they have got us used to since 2004 and they simply rock theirselves out by playing as simply as it gets, proving that this reunion is one of the most honest ever done in all music history. ‘’Riches To Rags’’ starts the album and it is very clear that there is a fresh air pouring from the speakers. ‘’Not Supposed To Sing The Blues’’ which follows, is the first song I heard from the album, for which also a video clip is made. It is the first sample where you can see on your own that the mood is anything included except the blues. Joey Tempest shows so renewed, despite he’s reaching his fifties. The others follow in the same vain, with John Norum leading most of the tracks with his guitar, Mic Michaelli having a very discrete role with his keyboards and the rhythm section of bassist John Leven and drummer Ian Haugland filling the structures by playing steady rhythms but still heavy and powerful.
The album includes songs that don’t bring you boredom and most of them end up to three or four minutes, the title track is the longest one and it doesn’t become tiring, from the beginning to the end there is a feeling of consistency on the album and if someone doesn’t know about the band, it could be very likely to think he’s listening to some guys mostly thirty years old in age. If you listen to tracks like ‘’Demon Head’’ or ‘’Bring It All Home’’ you’ll be convinced about the quality of the album. On the other hand, if you are mostly a fan of the older albums of the first era, you may think that they repeat themselves, that the compositions are way too simplified and that Joey Tempest doesn’t have the voice anymore to sing like he used to two decades before. It is all a matter of taste of course, but I think that in the end, the band wins the impressions for these specific reasons.
It would be very easy for them to continue like they did before but they didn’t. Europe have adapted themselves fully in the likes of today’s music and this is surely on their favour. They can’t pretend they’re youngsters anymore, they can’t recycle what they did before because it wouldn’t seem honest to them first and then their fans. Also, knowing that they have nothing to lose, they are rid of any possible stress and this shows from the first moment of the album. It will be hard to convince you if you are determined to unbury the hatchet of war at any case and dig their grave no matter if you listen and like the album or not. But if you want to listen to a very decent album created simply by love and experience, then ‘’Bag Of Bones’’ will like you and may also put Europe even deeper inside your heart, though it is not revolutionary in sound or their best effort so far. It still is something easy and pleasant to listen to and may become a grower inside you in a very little time.