It’s a good time to be an ’80s rock act, and it’s an even better time to be signed to Sanctuary, who seem to be holding the lighter aloft on behalf of these axe-wielding veterans. I blame The Darkness – ever since their rise to the top last year a whole host of bands have reappeared, flying in their wake.
So now it’s the turn of Europe. Seemingly destined for pop game show questions and providing Blackburn Rovers with music to frighten their opponents, they are, in fact, back. If the band’s picture is anything to go by, they’re completely made up, in both senses!
Musically I’m not so sure. There’s not much sign of the keyboards that dominated The Final Countdown, which is no bad thing, and the lyrics are superbly overweight – more of which later. Much of the band’s work remains rooted in the 80s, with a few stylistic nods across the pond to Metallica and even Linkin Park, although you’ll be pleased to hear they stop short of rapping.
Start From The Dark is a curious title, shared by the grimly determined second track. What this and the other eleven seem to lack is a really distinctive melody along the lines of their biggest hit. Sure there’s some big boned guitar riffs, and Spirit Of The Underdog has a particularly athletic example. Joey Tempest still possesses a fine voice – he sounds good opening up on Reason, holding his own effortlessly.
Those lyrics then – some of them preposterous, but in a way that curiously enhances the enjoyment of the album. Not the usual, bland nonsense for them! Flames has some grand designs, a single guitar line under Tempest at the start as he sings “the pressure is mounting, I’m ready and counting”. Roll With You finds him in consoling mood – “when you feel out of place, let me revolve around you” – but surely the best is Sucker, announcing “she’s turning up the stereo”, then “she’s a s-s-s-sucker for a guitar hero”, then later “she won’t need a stereo”!
Most tracks indulge in a guitar solo, with America throwing in a second for good measure. The closing Settle For Love hits a nice acoustic, end of record feel.
Make no mistake, this album is nothing new and will be dismissed by many as an irrelevance. It will find a market though – if you confess to having brought a soft metal compilation a few decades back this could well bring all the memories flooding back if you want it to. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!