‘The Final Countdown’
Hard Rock/Glam Metal/Heavy Metal
Europe had risen to fame exceptionally quick, as young kids playing in Sweden, they were soon signed to Hot Records releasing their self-titled debut and ‘Wings of Tomorrow’ the following year. It was not long before Epic Records snapped up the band and thrust Europe into the worldwide spotlight with their third and most commercially successful album ‘The Final Countdown’. It has been 32 years since ‘The Final Countdown’ was released and unbeknownst to the band at the time, not only would this album cement their career with four massive hit singles, but now we are starting to see a whole new generation of bands who cite not only this album, but vocalist Joey Tempest, guitarist John Norum and the rest of the band as a huge influence on their sound and playing.
Seeing the success and benefits that a major label had brought Bon Jovi in the same year with their equally massive ‘Slippery When Wet’ album, Europe attempted to hire the mastermind behind that album Bruce Fairbairn, but when this wasn’t a viable option, the band went with the record companies suggestion of Kevin Elson, a man who had worked with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Journey. Elson gave the band that big 80’s sound that the band required and of its genre, there aren’t many better albums released in this year. Tracks such as ‘Cherokee’, the ballad ‘Carrie’, the fist pumping anthem ‘Rock The Night’ and instantly recognisable synthesizer toot of the title track have become staples of the band over the last three decades. But as much as these songs run away with the limelight, ‘The Final Countdown’ does contain some of Europe’s most sublime work with John Norum showing why he is one of the most underrated guitar players from this era with the solos during ‘Ninja’, ‘Danger On The Tracks’ and ‘On The Loose’ being something to be admired.
Unfortunately, ‘The Final Countdown’ sounds very much of its era, synth heavy, crisp drums and reverb drenched vocals and when compared to their earlier work or their releases since Europe’s reformation in 2003, the album does not give a fair representation of their true sound. However, it is full of every bit of 80’s fun that anyone could ever want, and it is in every way as enjoyable now as it was in 1986. It will always stand as a testament to their career and be a chapter in the bands history which attracted more fans than they can ever imagine and made them global superstars.