BAG OF BONES
Wow! Europe has been pretty good recently, but never in their career have they been this good. Yes folks, it seems that the band that created arguably the worst back to back hits the 80s hair scene had to offer ("The Final Countdown" and "Carrie") have completely reinvented themselves. By completely, I mean that there's not a single note of music here that could be mistaken for anything in the band's past. In fact, I'd bet most people wouldn't even recognize this as the same band.
BAG OF BONES is a spectacular effort from Europe; a full on rock record with a heavy blues feel at times that would make Jimmy Page and Robert plant blush in wake of their homage to the mighty Zeppelin. Without question, "Not Supposed To Sing The Blues" has a very strong does of that Led Zeppelin "blues meets dreaming" aura that skyrocketed the band to superstardom. This is not the only time. Guitarist Jon Norum is one of the most gifted, yet underappreciated, guitarists out there. On songs like "Firebox", Norum showcases a solid dose of Page influenced riffage with a much more updated, modern riff that you might expect from one of today's more elite active rock players. Norum shines throughout BAG OF BONES.
He's not alone though. Vocalist Joey Tempest sounds like a brand new singer...completely and totally. In fact, I had to go to the credits and make sure he was still the singer of the band. Everything about his performance on BAG OF BONES is so different than we've come to know that it's simply hard to believe it's the same guy. There's no more senseless wailing. His once overly clean vocal has been completely replaced as well. In it's place is a somewhat clean lower toned voice with some years of weathering on it to give it a much more heartfelt sound. In short, old Joey Tempest was (to me, anyway) sterile to the point of beng unlistenable. On new songs like "Bag Of Bones", you get the feeling that these songs are from the heart and genuine. This newfound sound from Tempest is very effective. He has a great tone on the eerie, 70s influenced (again, heavy Zeppelin influenced) "Drink And A Smile".
PITRIFF RATING - 96/100 - I'm a guy that literally hated this band. I learned to hate them all over again when "The Final Countdown" appeared on Rock Band or Guitar Hero or whatever game that was a few years ago. That said, this is a complete and total reinvention of Europe, and it kicks a whole lot of ass. Full of blues riffs and music made for partying at your favorite pub, BAG OF BONES is one of the strongest rock records released to date this year. Great release...I'm as stunned as you are that I'm saying that.