Ever since the classic Europe lineup reunited a decade ago they’ve distanced themselves from their 80s heyday. Now, with War Of Kings, that process has been accelerated – because this is arguably the best album the Swedes have ever made.
Harder, sharper and heavier than anything they’ve previously attained, this is very reminiscent of what Deep Purple achieved on their 1984 Perfect Strangers comeback album, and is laced with occasional dollops from the Led Zeppelin and Thin Lizzy canons.
Joey Tempest’s vocals reference Ian Gillan, while Mic Michaeli’s keyboard flourishes owe a debt to Jon Lord and John Norum delivers guitar solos that might make even Ritchie Blackmore applaud in admiration. However, this isn’t a Purple retread. Europe have used this as a springboard to create some astonishing music.
Rainbow Bridge is a primal epic, while the title track is full of sweaty riffage, as Nothin’ To Ya is sliced through with a crushing tunefulness, and Angels (With Broken Hearts) is a flourishing, stinging power ballad.
To add variety, you can hear a Zeppelin-esque towering blues rock timbre running through Light Me Up, and Children Of The Mind is an incandescent fireball of Lizzy-style hard rock. This is essentially Europe marching into their prime./o:p