Start from The Dark


We're leaving together... etc etc etc ...It's the Final Countdown...!!! It's 1986 and a Swedish […]
By Grigoris Chronis
September 14, 2004
Europe - Start from The Dark album cover

We're leaving together... etc etc etc ...It's the Final Countdown...!!! It's 1986 and a Swedish band really thunders the globe with the title track from it's third release - even if (I memorize) the average Rock fan hailed the band as a rookie with a debut album. With sales exceeding 6,000,000 units worldwide, Europe brought the whole Scandinavian Hard Rock scene to a greater level and recognition amongst journalists and music fans remaining - till their split up - among top artists to ever sneak out from the cold North. Well... let's move forward to the year 2004... Uh, no... Let's first travel back to 1982, to a band called Force...
In 1982 Thomas Erdtman (later Europe manager) organized the greatest Rock competition ever held in Sweden. Joey Tempest's girlfriend convinced Force (Europe's initial name) to record a demo tape and participate. They recorded 5 songs: Rock on (later called Farewell), Seven Doors Hotel, Boyazont, The King Will Return, Children Of This Time. But the tape didn't convince them and they refused to participate. Joey Tempest's girlfriend sent the tape without the group knowing about that and they were selected for the second phase of the contest. Force worked hard in order to be ready for the competition. During the competition, they began to call themselves Europe. Competing against more than 400 bands, they won the contest. In addition, Tempest and Norum won the best singer and best guitarist prices. Their first album was released in 1983: Europe, going gold in Sweden and Japan. In 1984 Wings Of Tomorrow was released, now considered to be maybe the band's musical zenith. The rest of the band's bio - 'till they split up in 1992 - is known even by my mom... Calling year 2004 now, R U listening?...
Let's clear things out, saving time for anyone who's not furthermore interested: Europe's 2004 come-back Start From The Dark is nearly 0% of a typical Europe album (3 out of 4 readers must have jumped-out during this phrase...). Moving on: the band is eyes-closed turning it's interest towards the US teenage modern Rock fans, releasing a new studio album (after 13 years) where John Norum's  raw riffs and melodies resemble to his latest solo releases, obviously miles away from his melody-meets-virtuosity-meets-hard rock riffing character of the 80s Europe. I don't think he quit his devotion to all the Thin Lizzy-ish 6-string approach, but it's somehow weird to hear him play like, with a Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society guitar sound. Maybe someone can figure out hidden Swedish melodies. I for one couldn't... Joey Tempest's voice still fits well into the band, no doubt. Yet, don't expect his crystal clear chords to fulfill your anxiousness, simply because they won't. Caught-in-the-middle, Joey is singing like an average singer, not convincing -at least not me - that he enjoys what he's doing. The rhythm section stands in great level, grooving endlessly into plain tempos but still standing solid and trustworthy. About Mic Michaeli, honestly I can't tell something... I simply can't hear keyboards being present, in nearly any song... Anyone that finds any keyboard in there, please drop me a line...
The production, obviously, fits the 2004 US standards, erasing any hope for atmosphere and resulting into a strictly studio kind of result. Still, for anyone interested in the members' individual technique, no way something could be spooky. We're talking 'bout a Swedish band! In contrast, I can't mention any particular song that embossed my mind, since all songs are heard somehow stiff, even if it's a straight-forward riff-based track or a semi-sentimental low-tempo ballad (where are the classic Europe ballads???). Maybe someone else can come up with a better conclusion.
In my poor mind, a band's comeback is connected in a great level to what the band has to offer to both new and old fans. I don't know how many of the old side will find themselves satisfied with Start From The Dark, yet count me out... You can always use another name - and logo - if you want to present something completely different from what was so far featured in your CV, don't forget that!!!

4 / 10

Nothing special

"Start from The Dark" Track-listing:

Got To Have Faith
Start From The Dark
Wake Up Call
Song No. 12
Roll With You
Spirit Of The Underdog
Settle For Love

Europe Lineup:

Joey Tempest - Vocals
John Norum - Guitar
Mic Michaeli - Keyboards
Ian Haughland - Drums
John Leven - Bass

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