Walk the Earth
Whenever You're Ready
Turn to Dust
The swelling keyboard that opens up the album's title track might suggest that Europe are reverting to the sound they had back in the late 80s, but as the song opens up it becomes clear that this is definitely not a band looking wistfully back to halcyon days.
After reuniting in 2003 the Swedes steered away from their big hair reputation went for a heavier approach that emulates their heroes in Deep Purple, UFO and Thin Lizzy. Walk The Earth was the sixth studio album in that period, with singer Joey Tempest using his lyrics as an opportunity to examine democracy – as evidenced by The Siege’s proggy bombast and groove-laden lead-off single Election Day – but without losing sight of the fact that the band are entertainers.
"As a dad I do fear for the futures of my two sons,” said Tempest. “That’s why the lyrics of Walk The Earth talk about being ‘caught in the middle of a lightning strike’. The song asks the question of who’s shouting out for all of us. We need our leaders to bring us together, and right now we have the opposite of that. All of us should feel welcome."
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Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute.
Other albums released in October 2017
- The Black Dahlia Murder - Nightbringers
- Gwen Stefani - You Make It Feel Like Christmas
- Marilyn Manson - Heaven Upside Down
- Beck - Colors
- Enslaved - E
- The Glorious Sons - Young Beauties and Fools
- Robert Plant - Carry Fire
- Trivium - The Sin and the Sentence
- Stereophonics - Scream Above the Sounds
- Theory of a Deadman - Wake Up Call
- Weezer - Pacific Daydream
What they said...
"There’s a grand architecture to Europe’s style of Rock these days that isn’t constrained by a push towards building cheap chart success, and it’s that bigger vision that gives them a real freedom to do just what they want. As someone who wasn’t a particular fan back in the 80’s the Europe of today are a band who constantly deliver records of real quality and‘Walk the Earth is right up there with recent releases War of Kings and Bag of Bones." (The Rockpit (opens in new tab))
"Even in the face of an ever evolving music industry, Europe remains true to their style, exhibiting it yet again with Walk The Earth. Walk The Earth embodies all the great qualities of a concept album without actually being that in full. The album flows beautifully from song to song, bringing to life the inventiveness of each member in Europe." (Cryptic Rock (opens in new tab))
"Often the object of derision and dismissed as one of those “hair metal” bands from the 1980’s, Europe have battled and worked hard for the scraps of journalistic credit they receive. That in itself is a crime but when the band are arguably a far better, tighter and more cohesive band these days then they have ever been those who stick to old-fashioned views are missing out on one of the great rock bands." (Maximum Volume Music (opens in new tab))
What you said...
Chris Downie: The halcyon MTV-driven days of hard rock saw many bands rise to fame on the back of a crossover hit, which eventually proved to be an albatross around the neck; on one hand, they would forge a career on the back of said hit's heavy rotation, but on the other hand, would forever be associated with it, to the point where it overshadowed their remaining - often better - output. In some cases, such hits were totally unrepresentative of the band as a whole and, over time, turned off as many potential suitors as it attracted.
Take the impressive Van Halen and Queen-infused hard rock of Extreme, forever tied to More Than Words, or the stellar musicianship of Mr. Big, tagged as the band who wanted To Be With You. Perhaps the prime example, however, was Sweden's biggest musical export since Abba, with that song.
Despite rivalling Bon Jovi in 1986 with their smash-hit third album The Final Countdown, Europe were often overlooked by many who thought its opening title track too slick and pop-metal, yet there was so much more to them under the hood. The first two albums were hugely evocative of the NWOBHM and classic UFO, while later efforts like Prisoners in Paradise featured some impressive AOR influences.
Since returning from hiatus post-millennium however, those in the know will attest to the fact they have made some of the finest music of their career. Their latest, 2017's Walk The Earth, has none of the 80s hair metal sheen. Melding their early influences with a strong classic rock vibe, this is a fine effort, exemplified by Joey Tempest's fine vocal performance, which evokes classic Ian Gillan-fronted Deep Purple. The Zeppelin-influenced title track is as close as it gets to a modern day Kashmir with its mini-epic vibe, yet the pace throughout the album's 10 tracks is finely balanced between hard rock crunch and keyboard-assisted atmospherics.
While not a mere tribute to the classic rock of yesteryear, in many respects this is the album Deep Purple should have made after their 1984 lightning-in-a-bottle reunion album Perfect Strangers. Sadly, there are many who will never give it the chance it deserves, due to the imprint on their psyche left by one flash-in-the-pan hit, which for all its overexposure in popular culture (admittedly outwith the band's control) was never representative of this fine band to begin with and is now, creatively speaking, but a distant memory. Their loss, for they are missing out on some fine contemporary hard rock. 8/10.
Gary Claydon: When we covered Europe's The Final Countdown album a while back, it was touched on just how much darker and heavier - just all round better - some of their later work is. I've always thought Walk The Earth is the album which best demonstrates this.
It's not groundbreaking, it still veers to fairly generic stadium rock but it's a decent listen all the same. The biggest surprise for me wasn't the album itself but seeing them live around that time. They were excellent, as opposed to the only other time I'd seen them, quite a few years prior to that, when I thought they were distinctly ordinary. 6/10.
Mike Canoe: On Walk This Earth, Europe channels Mach II Deep Purple while retaining some of their 80's pomp bombast. Deep Pomple, anybody?
Kidding aside, it is a far more enjoyable album than their boon and/or bane, 1986's The Final Countdown. I would far rather listen to muscular keyboards that simulate Purple's Jon Lord than the processed cheese that passed for keyboards on most 80's arena rock recordings. I was surprised to find that Mic Michaeli played keyboards on both albums, nay, that it was actually the exact same lineup on both albums. Maybe it's the difference between doing what the major label wants and doing what you want.
Probably the biggest surprise is the fuller, throatier voice of lead singer Joey Tempest, who sometimes sounds like he graduated first in class from the Ian Gillian School for Aspiring Hard Rock Singers. That's definitely not a putdown. I think his voice has improved greatly. I would rather hear him growling about "wolves at your door" than squealing about the "traaail of teeears."
In addition to Wolves, favourites include the menacing Whenever You're Ready, Haze, with its tidy 30-second mid-song drum solo, and the endearingly optimistic Kingdom United. Overall, a likeable surprise, especially given how much I did not like The Final Countdown when it was the club pick around this time of year in 2019.
Alex Hayes: What was the first rock album that you ever owned? Some people can legitimately claim that it was Deep Purple In Rock, Paranoid or Led Zeppelin IV.
Mine doesn't carry quite the same level of cachet, as it was Europe's The Final Countdown, bought in 1986. I was just on the verge of turning 12 at the time, and it was fresh off the back of the single dominating the UK charts that summer. I listened to it the other day and, yeah, it really hasn't stood the test of time. The musicality of the band members themselves is still quite admirable, but not much else is. The production is tame, the lyrics are godawful in places, and the song writing generic, even by the standards of the day.
Everyone has to start somewhere though, eh? Also, whilst it's true that The Final Countdown hasn't aged well, the same can't be said of the band that recorded it. Europe were wise enough to sit out the 90s, reforming as a group during the early millennium, and never looking back since. 2017's Walk The Earth is just the latest in a string of quality albums that have been produced by a rejuvenated Europe since 2004's Start From The Dark. It isn't just Joey Tempest and a succession of hired musicians behind this renaissance either. Europe's current line-up is exactly the same as the one which recorded The Final Countdown. That's impressive, and a rarity in modern rock.
Europe's post millennial output has greatly benefitted from the band taking inspiration from all the right places. Earlier, I mentioned Deep Purple In Rock, and Walk The Earth doffs it's cap to that era of Purple very efficiently. Mic Michaeli has a deep, satisfying and Jon Lord-esque organ presence on this album, very much removed from the farty synth sounds present on The Final Countdown. In fact, this is a very good example of a well produced modern era rock album. Dave Cobb has done a great job here, enhancing these songs with a meaty, gritty and well balanced sound. It's 40 minutes long too, so no filler songs or pointless noodling pushing the thing well past the hour mark.
Anyone that is only familiar with The Final Countdown or Carrie from back in the day will probably be pleasantly surprised with Walk The Earth. Without music industry pressures weighing them down, the modern day Europe have been free to record music that pleases themselves, and we've all profited from that. As far as I've always been concerned, this is a misunderstood and underrated group, whose biggest selling album is a long way from being their best. Walk The Earth definitely comes recommended from me.
A high quality album, if not particularly ground breaking. 8/10
John Davidson: Well this was a pleasant surprise.
I had written Europe off as cheesy eurometal back in the 80s and not even thought about them since. While they have a slightly derivative sound which borrows heavily from Down To Earth-era Rainbow and 80s Deep Purple, the album does contain some suprises. Pictures could almost be a Bowie song for example.
All in all well worth a listen.
Chris Elliott: Its pleasant enough. I really should find this irratiting given its so cliched its untrue - but there's something that makes you forgive. That and how many albums sound like a Magnum B side (Vigilante era) - the title track especially. Its far from a classic - but its harmlessly entertaining.
Adam McCann: A top album that shows Europe as mature, elder statesmen of the scene and another example of a band in a late career renaissance releasing some of the best, if not, the best albums of their career.
Andrew Bramah: I saw them on the tour for this album. Whilst they are still a formidable live band they are caught in that trap where they are "obliged" to include several songs from their "golden era" in the set list. Some of which haven't aged well. The result is a hybrid set of songs that aims to please everyone. That's a shame as the recent albums are every but as good as their classic stuff. Luckily they haven't fallen onto the trap of making the same album over and over till they become characatures of themselves.
Adam Ranger: First, an apology to the band. I dismissed you in the 80s, in large part due to that awful song. And so did not listen to any more.
But I admit: this is better than those days. But I still can't get enthused about it. Seems on some tracks to be trying too hard to be epic, strings and choir etc.
GTO sounds like it wants to be Highway Star (big shoes to fill). And some of the other lyrics feel awkward. Signing of the magna carta and now sunset on democracy? Just a bit forgettable for me. But at least I know they are better than that ridiculous Final Countdown song. So not all bad.
Michael Harley: I think all of their material since they regrouped is far superior to their 80s output.
Robert Dunn: Robert's Tip of the Week: don't brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush while listening to the Album of the Week.
Well, you can count me among the pleasantly surprised by this one. I have listened to a little Europe over the years and always thought they weren't that bad, but this album brought to mind snatches of 80s Deep Purple, bits of Uriah Heep, even a bit of Bowie at one point. Not so much copying these guys but wearing their influences on their sleeves, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
The musicianship was more than competent but what impressed me was the songwriting - not the lyrics, I seldom pay attention to lyrics although the bit about Agincourt and Waterloo being about fighting for freedom made me wince a bit. I mean the way the songs were put together, some really nice touches to lift them above the ordinary and add some interest. I liked the strings and choir, have done ever since Stargazer and the string section of the Munich Philharmonic, and in my opinion they were used to good effect here.
Nothing new or groundbreaking, but the sound of a good band being comfortable in their skins in the later years of their career. Most enjoyable.
Alexander Taylor: Fantastic band, in my opinion the modern day version of Rainbow in all its forms. This, like most of their post-"classic" era, is absolutely amazing.
Tony Bickerdike: This a pretty decent album. The best songs from it live are phenomenal, as are most of their live set these days. I tend to find I really enjoy three or four songs from their last five or six albums, the rest being ok.
From this Album; Walk the Earth, Pictures, GTO and Turn To Dust are my favs
Keith Jenkin: Superb choice, I am another one of those for whom the second half of their career works better much better than the first. A great run of albums from 2004's Start From The Dark through to this one which I think may be the best of the lot. Great classic hard rock, anyone who loves Deep Purple, Uriah Heep or say the Dio-era Rainbow/Sabbath albums will find lots to enjoy here.
Oli Egan: Well, I liked it. High energy, great musicianship and the songs often take an unexpected turn, in terms of chord progressions especially. Lyrics are the usual portentous drama as one would expect. But the album is no less entertaining for it. This livened up my Monday night and I'll happily give it another listen in the morning.
Greg Schwepe: First time I have ever listened to any Europe album from start to finish. Only previous two songs I’ve heard are The Final Countdown and the 80s power ballad Carrie. And even based on knowing only those two overplayed songs, I had no ill will towards the band. Unlike some bands that you despise because their “one hit wonder” song is so annoying and obnoxious. I really like both of these.
And now we get to Walk The Earth. And, gosh darnit, I liked it. Europe hit me from the blind side a little. Again, my previous Europe experience was only the anthem and the power ballad. I had no idea what kind of a band they were after we got past that. Was I going to get wimpy pop metal? Or something else? On Walk The Earth, well, they rocked pretty hard!
To be honest, about half of this album sounded like Perfect Strangers-era Deep Purple. Same drum sound, a lot of organ, and some of the guitar has some Middle Eastern vibes like Blackmore used. And at times the vocals sound maybe a little like Gillan. Channel your influences. I did look at some other albums of theirs on Spotify and did get a kick out of the cover of The Final Countdown… is that a little Fireball knockoff I saw?
Favourite tracks were Kingdom United, Wolves, and Haze. No need to go into a lot of detail. A way more hard rocking album than I expected. Always nice to get a nice musical surprise. 8 out of 10.
Final score: 6.98 (53 votes cast, total score 370)
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