EUROPE - review added 27th April 2012
Album Review: Bag Of Bones (2012)
For fans of: Grungy Blues Rock
"Bag Of Bones" is Europe's 9th studio album and follows their 2009 release "Last Look At Eden". This one literally starts where the last one ended. I know that's an overused phrase, but on LLAE final track 'In My Time' was unlike the rest of the album, boasting an excellent heavy blues vibe. For the new one, Europe have taken that sound, added a strong grungy overcoat, and stylistically dumped almost all of what made their musical name in the first place.
This is not the Europe of the past. There are a few symphonic keys here and there, but there is no real 1980s excess, no epic screaming vocals, no ball-busting solos...in fact it's only Joey Tempest's voice that makes the band recognizable. Even he is vastly different these days. Gone is the crystal clear voice-of-the-gods he used to possess, replaced by a gravelly, more controlled bluesy tone with a warm friendly timbre.
New-Europe is a mix of the grunginess of Soundgarden, the bluesiness of Black Country Communion, the experimentation of Deep Purple and a lot more besides. The musicianship is of course A-star. How could it not be with this line-up? John Norum is definitely at home with the bluesy sound. Producer Kevin Shirley's recent work includes Joe Bonamassa and the aforementioned BCC. And ultimately these guys are getting older with grace and class. It would look and sound stupid for them to still be pumping out tracks that require the donning of lycra.
Of the tracks here, first single 'Not Supposed to Sing the Blues', the amazing acoustic-rich title track, the heavy grungy ballad 'My Woman My Friend', and final slow track 'Bring It All Home' all vie for attention as best of the best.
Not the Europe of old, but not important, This is a damned fine band making damned fine music, and continuing to be damned relevant to the modern world as a result.
Overall (Not An Average Of The Above):
01. Riches to Rags
02. Not Supposed to Sing the Blues
04. Bag of Bones
06. My Woman My Friend
07. Demon Head
08. Drink and a Smile
10. Mercy You Mercy Me
11. Bring It All Home
Joey Tempest (vocals)
John Norum (guitar)
John Levén (bass)
Mic Michaeli (keyboards)
Ian Haugland (drums)
Joe Bonamassa (slide guitar on title track)