REVIEW: Europe – Wings of Tomorrow (1984)

By request of the Heavy Metal OverloRd.

WOT_0001EUROPE – Wings of Tomorrow (1984 Epic)

In many ways, Wings of Tomorrow is the perfect Europe album.  It combines their early grand metallic leanings with the keyboards and anthemic sheen they would later become known for.   Like the first Europe album, it’s loaded with hard rockers, the odd ballad, and an instrumental guitar workout.  The same lineup from the last album was intact, with the major difference being Joey Tempest adding more keyboards to the mix.

The opener “Stormwind” is a great hard rock/metal tune, with a memorable chorus, riff, plus a tricky sounding solo from virtuoso John Norum.   Second up is the ferocious “Scream of Anger”, featuring Norum playing the heavily distorted riff through a talk box.  This is a solid burner, scorched-Earth policy firmly in place, taking no prisoners.  Tempest wrote this song with Yngwie Malmsteen bassist Marcel Jacob.

The best known song on the album is “Open Your Heart”, which a later lineup of the band re-recorded for the underrated Out of This World record.  I prefer the re-recorded version, because it includes an additional guitar part, really cool and catchy, immediately after the acoustic intro.  The original version is still a great song though, a power ballad, and probably the first great Europe power ballad.

The angry prowler, “Treated Bad Again”, takes us back into metal territory.  This predatory number would have fit in perfectly on something like a mid-period Judas Priest album.  Then, as on the debut album, John Norum ends Side 1 with an instrumental.  This one is called “Aphasia”, which refers to a medical condition that can render sufferers unable to speak.  Get it?

Side 2 opened with an assaulting metal riff, on the album’s title track.  It’s a jagged riff that juxtaposes nicely with Joey’s smooth voice.  “Wasted Time” sounds like the aforementioned Yngwie at first, just because of the riff, but then it begins to gallop into Diamond Head style chorus.  The guitar solo is shredder’s envy.   “Lyin’ Eyes” maintains the momentum.

All this sets the stage for the penultimate song, and possibly the best ballad Europe ever recorded:  “Dreamer”.  It’s a piano power ballad, without the saccharine overload of songs like “Carrie”.  This one’s just a classic ballad, much like you’d find on the first Europe album, but refined a bit.

Wings of Tomorrow closes with the reckless pace of “Dance the Night Away”, which sounds nothing like what its title implies.  It’s a simple metal song, fast burning riff, and plenty of solos.  It’s a shame the guitar wasn’t mixed in heavier.  You get the impression that this album would have sounded so much harder live.

I don’t know if anybody could have predicted the massive success of the next album, The Final Countdown, after labouring in obscurity for two records.  But success did come, and these early albums are a memento of a time before Joey Tempest wrote “hits”.

4.5/5 stars

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8 comments

  1. Yay! I really like this one… lots of great tracks on this. So glad you mentioned Diamond Head here as this album always reminds me of them especially on ‘Scream of Anger’. I guess a lot of people would be surprised to hear Diamond Head and Europe mentioned in the same sentence but they are definitely similarities which goes to show how “Metal” Europe were in those early days.

    Everyone, get your review requests in!

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    1. LOL, I have two requests I haven’t even touched yet (Airbourne and Sultans of Ping) so go easy on the requests :)

      Glad you liked the review. When I talk about early Europe I think it’s important to emphasize how traditionally “Metal” they were, since most people just don’t know!

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        1. First two albums, definitely. They strayed into pop rock for the fame years. When they reunited in the 2000’s, they really brought back their classic heavy rock side — stuff influenced by Deep Purple, UFO, and all those guys. I believe they’ve done 9 studio albums now. 3 of which are poppy. Not bad, 2/3’s metal!

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  2. Cool review, Mike.
    You’re spot on on much of what you wrote here, but I need to state that Diamond Head were never an influence on Europe. I don’t know much or heard much of their music, so I don’t know how much Scream Of Anger sounds like them, but the guys never mentioned Diamond Head when they spoke of their influences. I think that song is just a coincidence, actaully.
    But this is a killer album and I don’t think John Norum has played better than he does on here ever. If anything, this is like a sister album to MSG’s Assault Attack. Just listen to the arrangements, the melodies and John Norum’s guitar playing. The Final Countdown would have been a much better album with this kind of production.
    But I’m glad you mentioned that Europe are a hard rock band that always had their metal moments. Even in their poppier days, they were always pretty heavy live.

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    1. Thanks again for all the info! The Diamond Head thing might be a coincidence, after all they were virtually out at the same time. Perhaps they have influences in common with heavier bands like Diamond Head. Stuff like UFO.

      This CD is frustratingly hard to get here. Last time I saw it, they were asking $30.

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      1. Oh yes, UFO, Deep Purple, Rainbow, MSG, Thin Lizzy and even Whitesnake were the main influences on Europe back then.

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