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Articles Home » 2006 Articles » Europe - 2006 Secret Society
Europe - 2006 Secret Society

ARTIST: Europe
ALBUM: Secret Society
LABEL: T&T/Sanctuary
YEAR: 2006


LINEUP: Joey Tempest - vocals * John Norum - guitars * Mic Michaeli - keyboards * John Leven - bass * Ian Haughland - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Secret Society * 02 Always The Pretenders * 03 Love Is Not The Enemy * 04 Wish I Could Believe * 05 Let The Children Play * 06 After All * 07 The Getaway Plan * 08 A Mothers Son * 09 Forever Traveling * 10 Brave And Beautiful Soul * 11 Devil Sings The Blues



An apt title for Swedish rockers Europe don't you think? You'd have to be a member of a Secret Society to be caught listening to this.. really. What the hell is going on? What are these perennial melodic rockers trying to prove? Have they been down to see Madam Zina and her magic crystal ball, and is this the path of destruction that she has chosen for them? Well, with or without a crystall ball, Europe started a shaky return to the 21st Century with the positively unnerving 'Start From The Dark', their 2004 reunion album. It didn't win me over, but strangely, Record Execs took an interest in a band that, when at the peak of their powers in 1991, no one would touch! Why is that? One need go no further than the type of material found on both 'Start From The Dark' and 'Secret Society'. Perhaps edgy modern rock is still prevalent in the youth market of America, but for a bunch of 40 plus year old rockers to be sucked into this game defies belief. Look, I know it's not 1986/87, and I know 'The Final Countdown' is irreplaceable within the confines of the eighties decade. In fact, if NASA were to send off another satellite to the outer reaches of space, and they wanted to tell our alien friends about what defined popular culture at that time, then the parping intro to that song should just about do it in one hit! However, back to the future - it's as if the band are trying to expunge their history in the space of two albums. Whereas 1988's 'Out Of This World' was tremendous AOR and 1991's 'Prisoners In Paradise' was superb hard rock, Europe have turned their back on their own successes, and are trying to breath life back into a dead beast called 'grunge', a style which died in April 1994 on the back of a lead bullet with Kurt Cobain's name on it. And I lament for the want of melodies and big choruses, despite having a guy like George Marino mixing the album. He probably didn't have that much else on that week..

The Songs
The opener and title track has limp vocals and doesn't sound convincing at all. 'Always The Pretenders' tries hard to be melodic but the muddy production swamps it in 1990's grunge-ville. Talk about trying to reinvent the modern rock wheel.. 'Love Is Not The Enemy' was the type of track that was blasted on American Radio during the late 90's, and it didn't gain much traction then so why should it now. Again the vocals are muffled behind what sounds like a sandbag in front of the mic. 'The Getaway Plan' admittedly is a good rocker, it takes its lead from 70's based rockers instead.. ironic really. For me the best track on the album (if you could call it that) is 'Forever Traveling', which has a wistful sort of presence, the guitar lines full of reverb, and at least I can hear a pulsing bass line at long last. 'Brave And Beautiful' follows similarly, strange that they are getting better toward the end of the album, but it is too little too late.

In Summary
I have no idea what Joey, John and the boys are attempting to do here, nor do I know who the heck is putting them up to all these shenanigans. They are about a decade too late, playing this limp style of (un) melodic rock. Do they despise the very musical genre that made them rich men? Have they turned their backs on the very fans that made them successful? Are they rubbing our faces into their latest form of music as a sign of contempt? I'm not sure, but I can tell you one thing, this album won't be hanging around my CD player for much longer. If you wanna listen to modern rock, listen to Sugarcult or Breaking Benjamin instead. At least they sound convincing. Summer is coming up 'down under', a frisbee would look good on the beach. Perhaps this is it?

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#1 | jeffduran on January 24 2008 09:18:14
Sandbag in front of the mic- i am dying herehilarious. This is the same group who gave us 'Tomorrow' and 'Carrie'?? They now sound like one of those nu metal bands who no longer rap but have straitened out they're sound ala Papa Roach or Saliva. Whats sad is that soulless form of modern rock actually has better hooks than this crap. Absolute rubbish!  no
#2 | george_the_jack on October 14 2008 20:36:56
Two beautiful songs here..'THE DEVIL SINGS THE BLUES' and 'FOREVER TRAVELLIN'' but definitely is a step to the wrong direction. It's good not to stick to the past indeed but forgetting it totally, is another story....
#3 | Wardy on December 01 2014 09:37:04
Even the likes of House Of Lords needed beefing some, changing slightly, and reckon had Europe attempted to dish out an album that just sounded like yesteryear their longevity they've regained in this era woulda likely have been zilch!?

Just my 2c (and a bit o' change), but personally think Europe got it very right and here with Secret Society they manage to capture some new styles without completely sacrificing their history. Here songs such as Let The Children Play and Human After All could almost have been lifted from their Prisoners period. Wish I Could Believe and Mothers Son both manage to be as beautiful and moving as anything from their past, wisely ditching the sugar coated lyrics of their past instead singing of sad but real life stories, something the band sorely missed for the most part back when. Forever Traveling and Always The Pretenders rock wonderfully, Devil Sings The Blues does too as most the record...

To each their own of course and glorydaze still rocks allCool but gotta say, seeing no reviews for the records that followed this one and that's a shame. Sure they may be pushing the blues stuff a tad too much of late, but Europe still offering plenty good (hey, check out Riches To Rags and Bring It All Home from their Bag Of Bones record, believe both those songs were ideas brewed during the early 90's and they come alive and then some fer anyone missing that old school Europe.

Am probably waving the flag more for these guys nowdays more than did back when \m/
#4 | gdazegod on December 01 2014 11:16:15
You're right Wardy. My opinion has changed over the last decade. Time for a revisit me thinks.
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