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Europe will probably be tarred with the Final Countdown brush for the rest of their career, which is a damn shame because they are undergoing something of a career renaissance and following 2010's unexpectedly outstanding Last Look At Eden they've hit a double home run with another exceptional rock record, BAG OF BONES.

They've dabbled in very hard rock in the past, but on Bag Of Bones they've managed to combine it with that pop sensibility which helped them write the ubiquitous Countdown song. The result is a hard rock band with a set of really killer choruses and a point to prove.

Bag Of Bones is a great big bluesy beast of a record, all major chord riffs and squealing solos with some dynamite hooks that are every bit as memorable as their past work. Joey Tempest's unmistakable voice is now a little weathered (in a good way) and the songs are a little more free and loose than they were on the last album.

Tracks such as Riches To Rags and Demon Head recall a Mk.III Deep Purple or Dio era Rainbow, while Firebox is, simply, one of the best rock songs of the year.

It's a BIG album, and it's pretty relentless too. You don't really get a chance to breath until two thirds of the way through with the gentle Zep-esque acoustic workout, Drink And A Smile and if there's any fault with the record it's perhaps that it lives at a certain pace and volume for so long that the songs have a slight tendency to blur into one another.

Very minor gripes aside, if you like your rock traditional and loud then this is an album that you should explore. It's wears its influences on its sleeve and it makes no apologies for it. Forget what you think you know about Europe and give Bag Of Bones a go. Once it's on your stereo you're going to find it difficult to take it off.

KEY TRACKS: Riches To Rags, Firebox, Bag Of Bones

1. Riches To Rags Tempest, Levén 3:05
2. Not Supposed To Sing The Blues Tempest 5:13
3. Firebox Tempest, Michaeli 3:46
4. Bag Of Bones Tempest 5:31
5. Requiem Michaeli 0:28
6. My Woman My Friend Tempest, Levén
7. Demon Head Tempest, Levén, Norum 3:58
8. Drink And A Smile Tempest, Michaeli
9. Doghouse Tempest 3:58
10. Mercy You Mercy Me Tempest, Norum 4:31
11. Bring It All Home Tempest, Michaeli


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