|Europe Secret Society||Sanctuary Records|
Europe reformed in 2003 and released their comeback album Start From The Dark in 2004. Their chosen musical direction created the usual debate among fans and left some out in the cold.|
I actually thought they updated their sound quite well. The mix of modern influences and a darker sound mixed with some of the band's commercial appeal generally worked for them. But I thought their main downfall was a lack of killer songs. Half the song was extraordinary, the other half rather ordinary.
Secret Society is another interesting album that in many ways mirrors its predecessor.
Again the band continues with the same style and direction – pushing it a little further still and again the album will cause great consternation among fans. My take is that those that loved Start From The Dark will probably rate this one even higher and those that didn't warm to the last album will continue to be left cold.
And just like Start From The Dark, the new album still suffers a little from lack of killer songs. Overall Secret Society is a much stronger and generally more consistent record, but where it adds more depth, it actually lacks one or two tracks that really blow your mind, like the opening few tracks of Start From The Dark did.
Where there could be improvements - I would certainly drop the vocal effects from Joey Tempest's lead vocals. He is an amazing singer and I have no idea why there are so many on this record. Plus the boasting of more keyboards on this record doesn't sound like it came to fruition.
And again, just like the last album, this record features a stronger first half and a slightly less dominating second half.
I'm pretty much sold on the album's first 5 or 6 tracks. The opening rocker Secret Society has a modern feel and some interesting musical twist, but is largely a straight ahead guitar fueled rocker.
Always The Pretenders is precisely what I'm looking for as far as this band is concerned and is hard rock gold in my book. More tracks with this intensity and memorable hooks is what the album needed to make classic status.
The Getaway Plan is harder and more contemporary, but still features a cool chorus and strong guitar riff.
Wish I Could Believe is a strong modern rock ballad with another good chorus and well placed orchestral parts.
The mid-tempo modern rocker Let The Children Play mixes in some retro classic rock and takes some time to get to know, but again, delivers with a decent hook.
Human After All is another good song, but a bigger, stronger chorus such as Wake Up Call could have lifted it further.
From here the next few songs all are worthy of inclusion and are part of what makes this album so consistent throughout. But they aren't in the same league as Start From The Dark, Always The Pretenders and Got To Have Faith for example.
Highlight of the latter part of the album for me is probably the very melodic and commercial Forever Traveling and Devil Sings The Blues features some stellar guitar work.
If I could pick 5 songs from Start From The Dark and 5 or 6 songs from Secret Society, then I think you would get your perfect 100. Overall, a solid and very enjoyable record from a band that is proving to be a force some 20 years after forming. That's a rare feat.
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