Europe - Secret Society
Sanctuary
Modern Hard Rock
11 songs (45'49)
Release year: 2006
Europe, Sanctuary
Reviewed by Marty
Europe is back with their new album and the successor to their 2004 comeback album Start From The Dark. Many were surprised at the new modern approach to their sound with an album that was an attempt to re-invent themselves and shed the ghosts of their heydays as one of the premier melodic hard rock acts in the mid to late 80's. Besides Europe, other classic 80's bands have attempted to infuse modern hard rock styles into their sound at some point in their carrer as an attempt to remain relevant in the modern commercial sense. Bands like Skid Row, Dokken and Tesla have all tried to jump into and ride the current waves of modern commercial hard rock and weren't very successful. Europe's Start From The Dark album was their attempt at breaking into the modern hard rock arena and aside from a few tracks, it didn't work very well either. Two years later, Secret Society follows the same path laid out for Start From The Dark yet this time around, they've brought back a bit more of the melodic edge of their classic 80's sound and have made big improvements in the song writing.

With a title that was inspired by a conversation lead vocalist Joey Tempest had with Robert Plant a couple of years ago, Europe has released a modern hard rock album that really demands the shedding of any preconceptions about what one would expect from a new Europe album. The rich melodies, syrupy vocal lines and prominent keyboards have all but disappeared in favor of a more guitar driven sound that has a lot more in common with current modern hard rock heavyweights such as Audioslave and Velvet Revolver. More predominant riffs and an overall heavier edge is pretty much the norm for this entire album with the title track using both heavy riffs and modern "filtered" vocal effects on Joey's voice. Unlike much of the Start From The Dark album, there is an undeniable catchiness to much of Secret Society. Always The Pretender continues with the heavier riff-laden sound but some of the classic Europe melodic sense emerges for the chorus section. A few tracks namely The Getaway Plan, Love Is Not The Enemy and Let The Children Play use booming heavy riffs and de-tuned guitars for an even harder edged energetic sound. The vocals and chorus sections retain a solid melodic edge throughout; keeping the unique Europe "stamp" that separates them from many others in the current mainstream of this genre. As with any Europe album, there are ballads but this time we get a couple of decent power ballads with Wish I Could Believe, a track that questions one's faith and A Mother's Son. Brave And Beautiful soul "borrows" a page or two from the U2 song writing manual with it's energy, vocal style and The Edge flavored guitar riffs.

Joey Tempest uses lots of doubling and other EQ effects on his voice and combined with guitarist John Norum's riffs, are an obvious attempt at "modernizing' the Europe sound. The lead guitar work is as precise and melodic as ever and the strength of Joey Tempest's voice puts great distance between them and other more "current" hard rock acts as far as maturity and quality in both song writing and overall sound. Definitely more riff-heavy than is the norm for this band, they still have managed to produce a pretty decent modern hard rock album that really has a finger on the pulse of the times. It does share some similarities in sound to bands like Audioslave and Velvet Revolver but unlike the more "corporate" approach of those aforementioned bands, Secret Society is an honest album and one that Europe fans should really take a hard listen to and accept the fact that the days of The Final Countdown, Cherokee and other "over-the-top" melodic hard rock anthems are a thing of the past.

Killing Songs :
Always The Pretender, Let The Children Play and Love Is Not The Enemy
Marty quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Europe that we have reviewed:
Europe - Start From The Dark reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 56 / 100
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