Swede rocks giants Europe released their 10th studio album, War of Kings, and it isn’t meant to cater to the experimenting listener&’s taste. The band has stuck to its roots and done what they are known to do best — good ol’ rock. While the current rock and metal fraternity is constantly searching for innovation, Europe have refused to dish out populist tracks.
Queen of Pop Madonna, in her latest album Rebel Heart, has done quite the opposite. Apart from a few songs, the album conforms to the lyrically meaningless and musically repetitive culture that is targeted at the selfie-clicking, club-hopping and EDM (the sort that makes ears bleed) listener. To add to the prolonged agony, she has brought on board Nicki Minaj to validate her need to prove that, quite simply, she can do what they can, and better, if need be. More like the can’t-beat-’em-join-’em way of things. It&’s just another addition to the growing line of albums meant for DJs who need to keep up with the times in order to hold on to their jobs.
Europe, on the other hand, have kept it simple and heavy — exactly the way it is meant to be. The obsession to cater to progressive technicalities and sonic elements has been kept at bay, and quite intentionally for that matter. It&’s heavy, right to the point and the influences have been pointed at, without seeking to mask them with trademark styles. Ian Haugland carries out his drumming duties in accordance with what is required of him, and John Norum&’s guitar parts are well-thought out; his riffs aren’t overbearing and his solos distinct.
The first listen may render the guitar lines over verses and choruses repetitive. But that&’s exactly what&’s needed to cushion Joey Tempest&’s voice. The title track isn’t as impressive as the rest of the album, but it&’s well crafted, nonetheless. California 1405 sounds like a subtle tribute to Deep Purple, with a colourful organ to kickstart the proceedings — a Jon Lord trademark. Days of Rock and Rolland Children of the Mindare songs that befit the scene of Sons of Anarchy&’s Jax Teller cruising on his Harley. Rainbow Bridgereeks Led Zeppelin&’s Kashmir in so many ways and it provides a magnificent space for the listener in comparison to the slightly higher tempo tracks. Followed by the ballad Angels (with Broken Hearts), the softer side of Europe comes to the fore, more so with Norum&’s subtle fillers. It&’s melodically more colourful and emotive. Light me upis the perfect song to wrap things up, with everything rock’n’-roll being thrown in.
A soulful solo, the mood for which is set by a perfect set of strings, serves as a reminder that Norum still has what it takes to come up with something that would leave modern-day shredders scratching their heads. The deluxe version of the album features the instrumental Vasastan, but perhaps it would’ve worked out better on one of Norum&’s solo projects. Despite the qualitative appeal of the album, Europe may end up finding the going tough.
Loyalists will forever hold their ground, but soon even the inadequately-informed listener is going to turn down different concoctions of music that&’s already been heard. Europe will feel the need, sooner rather than later, to join the bandwagon unless, of course, they refuse to serve “what sells”. But until that happens, there&’s enough music out there to provide more laughs than auditory gratification.