Sound — 6
This album was released early March 2015, just as Europe started their 2015 tour of Europe. I waited eagerly to see how they would surprise us on this album after their success with "Bag of Bones" (2012). Anyway let's get down to the sound of this album. So they have used the same tried and tested format that we know and for some of us love. Same line-up since 2004, meaning we can expect some nice bass lines and guitar solos.
But I was slightly disappointing, they seem to have wanted to change direction a bit, less blues and more hard rock, so a mix of lets say "Bag of Bones" and "Start From the Dark" (2004). As the music goes it stays at a good quality, sometimes a bit darker than normal Europe tracks, but that isn't a bad thing. The bad parts: sometimes the solos fall flat which from John Norum is worrying, it's like he wasn't completely focused. Otherwise instrumentally the songs work. The main let down is in Joey Tempest's vocals... His voice seems weaker on this album, maybe with age, and so in the end his voice is best in the softer songs like "Angels With Broken Hearts."
Also this album is the first to feature a John Norum instrumental track since "The Final Countdown" (1986). Like "Bag of Bones" they try some new sounds, like a Middle Eastern sound on "Rainbow Bridge." Overall the sound is good for Europe, just a shame that some tracks fall a bit short of the mark. "Bag of Bones" was in my opinion better than this one. The tracks I would recommend: "Angels With Broken Wings," "Praise You," "Nothin' to Ya," "Children of the Mind."
Lyrics — 8
By the title I thought this was going to be a concept album about a war of kings, a sort of medieval theme. Instead the songs seem unrelated so that was maybe a disappointment but only because of my expectations. As always they manage to have the lyrics fit right in with the music, both of them creating an overall atmosphere that makes the whole experience enjoyable. Europe even in their early days were always good lyric writers and they have never failed there yet. Though if you want something you can attach yourself to personally then the lyrics might not be at their best, but for singing along then these are perfect, whether in the shower or in the car.
Overall Impression — 6
My favorite era of Europe would be the "Out of This World" era, followed by the "Last Look at Eden" era, so this album is good but they have done more original and exciting albums, they are trying a new sound and need to work on it, maybe the next album will see it perfected. Now so far I have only downloaded it, but at the first occasion I am going to buy the album on CD as it is worth having for any Europe fan or just an old school hard rock fan. That being said, if someone stole the CD, I would buy it again even if some of the tracks could be better, it is still Europe doing what they do best which is music!