Summer 1989. My buddy Bob showed up at the door.
“Mike!” he began. “They have a Europe album you don’t have down at Sam the Record Man. You should get it, but it’s only on record.”
I knew Europe had albums prior to The Final Countdown, but I had never seen nor heard them. Since my primary format was cassette back then, I passed on the vinyl version. A few weeks later, Europe the album showed up in the new Columbia House catalog, so I ordered it on tape. I had reasoned out that this was their first album, but the 1989 date on the back made it look like a new release. In fact Martin Popoff even reviewed it as such in Riff Kills Man!, stating that the poodle hair and keyboards were “gone” and replaced by sheer heavy metal. He’s right about the heavy metal, even if he had the order of the albums wrong. Europe resembles the band of “Carrie” and “Rock the Night” only superficially. This is a metal album, and a damn fine one at that.
The regal, thunderous riff of “In the Future to Come” should warn away anyone expecting power ballads. This speedy UFO/Priest hybrid certainly took me by surprise. Singer Joey Tempest’s voice was not the soulful powerhouse it would later become, but he was just a kid at the time. The metal here is pure: no frills, no excesses, just steamhammer rhythm and a howling lead singer. Throw in some ace John Norum guitar work and you have something to talk about. His double-tracked solo might be reminiscent of Thin Lizzy.
“Farewell” is straightforward heavy metal, on the hard rock side of things. Some may be off-put by the flat lead vocals, but I say, “Hey, it’s rock n’ roll.” The song slams and the chorus is memorable enough for me. Then “Seven Doors Hotel” changes the scene with a haunting piano opening…but it’s merely a fake out. The speed metal riffing and wailing Norum are back. Norum makes his Les Paul howl like Joey does at the microphone. Even though there’s some neoclassical finesse to some of the music, I hear a bit of Phil Lynott in there too.
My favourite song then and now is probably “The King Will Return”. The lyrics aren’t very good, but English wasn’t Joey’s first language. I still enjoy the words, as it’s one of those medieval story-telling songs that I’m a sucker for. This softer song is still pretty epic and wouldn’t be considered wimpy by anyone. Side one was closed by the Norum instrumental song “Boyazont”. I don’t know what a “boyazont” is, but who cares? Norum instrumentals are usually ballsy and catchy, and this is no exception.
The second side is commenced by “Children of this Time”, which continues much in the vein of songs like “In the Future to Come”. Then for a respite, “Words of Wisdom” has an acoustic verse. That doesn’t make it a ballad! No, this picks up speed for the chorus and continues to storm the gates of Valhalla like the rest of the album. It’s a bit slower in pace, but the drums still hit like hammers while Joey howls at the thunder. I think I can even hear timpani. “Paradize Bay” (not sure why they spelled it with a z) is one of the album’s strongest cuts. It’s a relentless battering ram with a chorus that hints at the grandness of Europe in the future. Norum’s solo is sloppy but delicious. “Memories” then closes the album on a frenetic note. There are plenty of “woah woah” vocals to go around, and drummer Tony Reno seemingly pulverizes his kit. There’s another voice singing with Joey on the outro of the song; is this John Norum?
This album was self produced, and as such it sounds very raw. But heavy! Not all bands who self produced early in their careers managed to get results as good as those on Europe. For 1983 and just a bunch of kids, this is damn fine work! And it holds up. It’s a headbanger.
Now this is a cool review! Good job! For a lot of people in North America they would think Final Countdown was there debut. Back than I always thought Wings Of Tomorrow was there debut. Great find…. Man this is neat Mike ….
Thanks man. I have liked the album for a long time. Then I read Martin Popoff’s 10/10 rating. He doesn’t just throw those around lightly. So I listened more intently and just got really heavily into it.
Oh boy. I do remember when they released this. They started quite a stir with this record.
I dunno if you know this, but the reason Europe were signed was because they won a contest and first prize was to make a record.
Back in the early 80’s, all Swedish bands were pop bands that sung in Swedish so when Europe (they were called Force back then) entered the contest, they were a bit of a laughing stock at first because nobody took a Swedish hard rock band that sang in English seriously. Do I need to mention that all the other bands that were around at the time never went anywhere and they are now driving taxis or working at McDonalds…? Except for Per Gessle who formed Roxette and became a multi millionaire.
Anyway, I never got Europe at first, thought they were too cheesy and I was a metal head, see. I became a fan with Wings Of Tomorrow and when I finally accepted them, WOT had been out for ages.
Well, this their debut album has never been a favourite of mine. There are some really good songs (Seven Doors Hotel, Children Of This Time, Boyazont), but most of this record – in my opinion – sounds really like a group of new beginners. I hear that there was potential, but most of the tracks are decent at best. We will have to disagree a lot on The King Will Return (co-written by Marcel Jacob, who went on to play bass with Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force before he started his own band Talisman with Jeff Scott Soto and also co-wrote Scream Of Anger with Tempest). To me, that is the worst song Europe has ever recorded. By far! I cringe when I hear it. CHAINSAW!!!! :-D
But this a killer review, Mike and it’s really cool that there’s someone outside of Scandinavia who actually knows about this record. No matter what, if you’re a Europe fan, you cannot not own this.
Oh, yes, the cover you posted isn’t the original cover. This is how the cover looked when the album was released.
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I like the original cover much better. I’m not sure what the 1989 cover is supposed to be!
Funny that they put the drummer up front on the cover, and the singer and lead shredder are stuck in the middle.
Perhaps Europe do sound like new beginners at this point. But I think that is one thing I like about it, the sheer energy and youth. Sometimes that’s a real big boost. It is for me, listening to this one for sure.
Yeah, well they were really young when they recorded it. 19 years old.
Oh yeah, it is Norum that sings with Tempest at the end of Memories.
Jon would you be able to answer what a “boyazont” is? Or is it a made up word?
Haha. I have no clue.
But I’ll make sure to ask Leven the next time I run into him. Could take a while though…
Great review Mike. Like others have said, shedding light on an overlooked album. I know about this one but my Europe CDs only go back as far as Wings… I know a couple of songs from the Rock the Night comp and from them I wouldn’t have guessed this would be a 5/5. I’ll have to keep an eye out for a copy!
As I mentioned to Deke Popoff rated this one 10/10. That’s when I paid closer attention. It may only be a 3.5/5 for some.
Well if you and Popoff are giving it full marks then that definitely puts it on my wish list.
Fair enough! But be forewarned: I hate when people buy my 5/5’s and don’t like them. So you better like it. Or I’ll be very upset. And curse.
It’s OK. If I don’t like it I’ll just blame Popoff instead.
I am fine with that as a compromise. My customer Shane never forgave me for telling him to buy Nuno’s first solo album. There’s an RST about it somewhere.
Gravity by Nuno..great track
Yeah, I knew nothing about this.
And the newer cover? Well clearly those are angel boners, raised in salute to some huge Europe-an government or monarchy. The double schwing salute!
“Angel boners”. Good one.
The cover shows a church (Karlskirche) in Wien/Vienna.
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