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Europe: War Of Kings

Sweden's hard rockers indulge their 70s side

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

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.