Europe: Last Look At Eden
Comebacks and reunions are funny things. Record an album full of songs that stay close to the musical vision of the band's past and it show lack of imagination and relevance, however stick your neck out and put together a collection of songs that reflect how the band's influences have altered and how recording technology has advanced since their initial departure and no matter how strong those songs may be, the band, and in this case Europe, are accused of trend chasing and not listening to their fans.
There was a twelve year gap between Prisoners In Paradise and 2004's uncompromising comeback album Start From The Dark, which with its tough, dark guitar driven songs surprised and in some cases shocked fans and critics alike. The album also saw the return of original guitarist John Norum and once more it was his six string talents that took centre stage on 2006's Secret Society and it's slightly more melodic, but no less "modern" driven attack.
Live however, was a different story as Europe have always displayed a far heavier sharper edge on stage than their early recordings would have ever suggested, with classics like "Superstitious" becoming full on bludgeoning blues assaults. In this context "Always The Pretender" from Secret Society or "Flames" from Start From The Dark among many others from both releases became instant fan favourites.
So with a forthcoming tour in January that will see the band roam across, funnily enough, Europe, followed by a nine date visit to the UK in February will Last Look At Eden benefit from the live setting in the same way? Well the simple answer to that is no and..........yes!
The main difference is that the songs on this new album have the immediate impact straight off the disc that the two previous albums had been accused of lacking. In fact lead singer Joey Tempest described it this way "Last Look At Eden is more of a Europe album than Secret Society or Start From The Dark. We had to make those albums in order to do this", and that is a perfect way to describe this release.
Melding the instant catchy melodic hooks that Europe initially became famous for with the brooding heavy riffs of the comeback albums has led to a perfect balance of subtlety and impact. Once more it's Norum's guitar that holds everything together, however there is more space for Mic Michaeli's keyboards to lift the mood and add deft touches of melody that were possibly lacking before.
In fact Last Look At Eden really has found Europe in a rich vein of form which is illustrated right from the off with the title track smacking you in the face with a great memorable riff. Bassist John Leven and drummer Ian Haugland grab that riff and turn it into a hard hitting melodic masterpiece with a chorus line that refuses to leave you head, what a great way to start an album.
Whether it's the great ballad "New Love In Town" where Joey voice is as yong as vibrant as ever, or the funky groove provided by Norum and Leven on the driving juggernaut that is "The Beast", Last Look At Eden is a cracking listen. It's hard to highlight other stand out tracks as the quality is so high right across the board, however the bombastic orchestra led "No Stone Unturned" and the spinning spiraling guitar line on "Gonna Get Ready" really hit the mark. Special mention also goes to album closer "In My Time" with its subtle bluesy feel that has a restraint that anyone who's only heard "The Final Countdown" would find hard to believe came from Europe.
If, as with the previous two albums, the songs on Last Look At Eden, only get better when heard live, then I can only urge everybody to book their tickets right now, as it's going to be a hell of a show!
2. Last Look At Eden
3. Gonna Get Ready
4. Catch That Plane
5. New Love In Town
6. The Beast
7. Mojito Girl
8. No Stone Unturned
9. Only Young Twice
10. U Devil U
11. Run With The Angels
12. In My Time
Added: November 17th 2009
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Band's Web Site
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