Earlier this month the band Europe released its 10th studio album War of Kings. Now if hearing the mention of the band Europe evokes memories of poodle haircuts, syrupy love ballads, or sugar coated pop metal then this is not your Europe. War of Kings is a solid collection of hard rock that is virtually ballad free. Gone is the keyboard driven song riffs of the 80’s and in its place is a classic intertwining of the guitar and keyboards reminiscent of Blackmore and Lord in the glory days of Deep Purple. War of Kings is collection of solid hard rock that calls back to the days of the guitar driven sounds of the 70’s. The band employed the talents of producer Dave Cobb to really mastermind this sounds as he did with last years Rival Sons album.
The album opens with the powerful title track, War of Kings. This song ebbs and flows with intensity throughout. One things I really like about this album is the diversity of the songwriting. On this album every band member gets a song writing credit. Hole in My Pocket, the next song up, is the fastest on the album has singer Joey Tempest spitting out lyrics as fast as he can in the verses. The next two songs, The Second Day and Praise You, follow the same pattern of riding a groove throughout the song and great vocal melodies in the chorus. The song Nothin to Ya has the heaviest guitar riff on the album and is another mid tempo rocker. California 405 opens with a great Mic Michaeli organ part that blends seamlessly with guitarists John Norum’s playing giving the song a great aforementioned classic Deep Purple feel. This song just a great vibe to it. Days of Rock n’ Roll is okay, but doesn’t do much for me. Children of the Mind gets the rocking going again with a great groove and a powerful chorus. The next two songs may very well be the best on the album. Rainbow Bridge with its epic organ riff and Angels(With Broken Hearts) with its simple blues riff that just grinds through the whole song- a perfect example of when less = more. The regular album ends with a fast paced rocker, Light It Up, and the deluxe edition ends with an instrumental, Vassatan, which ends with a reprise of the first song, War of Kings. I would recommend the deluxe edition simply for the packaging even if there is not a lot in the way of extra music.
If every song is worth one point, I give this album a 9.5 out of 10 and consider it a must buy for the summer. Good listening!