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Europe Secret Society Sanctuary Records
Produced By: Europe

Running Time: 46.03

Release Date: October 31

Released:

Musical Style: Modern Hard Rock

Links: Europe
91%
Songs: 87%
Sound: 95%
Europe reformed in 2003 and released their comeback album Start From The Dark in 2004. Their chosen musical direction created the usual debate among fans and left some out in the cold.
I actually thought they updated their sound quite well. The mix of modern influences and a darker sound mixed with some of the band's commercial appeal generally worked for them. But I thought their main downfall was a lack of killer songs. Half the song was extraordinary, the other half rather ordinary.
Secret Society is another interesting album that in many ways mirrors its predecessor.
Again the band continues with the same style and direction pushing it a little further still and again the album will cause great consternation among fans. My take is that those that loved Start From The Dark will probably rate this one even higher and those that didn't warm to the last album will continue to be left cold.
And just like Start From The Dark, the new album still suffers a little from lack of killer songs. Overall Secret Society is a much stronger and generally more consistent record, but where it adds more depth, it actually lacks one or two tracks that really blow your mind, like the opening few tracks of Start From The Dark did.
Where there could be improvements - I would certainly drop the vocal effects from Joey Tempest's lead vocals. He is an amazing singer and I have no idea why there are so many on this record. Plus the boasting of more keyboards on this record doesn't sound like it came to fruition.
And again, just like the last album, this record features a stronger first half and a slightly less dominating second half.
I'm pretty much sold on the album's first 5 or 6 tracks. The opening rocker Secret Society has a modern feel and some interesting musical twist, but is largely a straight ahead guitar fueled rocker.
Always The Pretenders is precisely what I'm looking for as far as this band is concerned and is hard rock gold in my book. More tracks with this intensity and memorable hooks is what the album needed to make classic status.
The Getaway Plan is harder and more contemporary, but still features a cool chorus and strong guitar riff.
Wish I Could Believe is a strong modern rock ballad with another good chorus and well placed orchestral parts.
The mid-tempo modern rocker Let The Children Play mixes in some retro classic rock and takes some time to get to know, but again, delivers with a decent hook.
Human After All is another good song, but a bigger, stronger chorus such as Wake Up Call could have lifted it further.
From here the next few songs all are worthy of inclusion and are part of what makes this album so consistent throughout. But they aren't in the same league as Start From The Dark, Always The Pretenders and Got To Have Faith for example.
Highlight of the latter part of the album for me is probably the very melodic and commercial Forever Traveling and Devil Sings The Blues features some stellar guitar work.
The Bottom Line
I have already seen calls from some Europe fans thinking this album rates a perfect 100. I disagree, but I do think it is a great record for the band, proving themselves to be more than relevant in 2006.
If I could pick 5 songs from Start From The Dark and 5 or 6 songs from Secret Society, then I think you would get your perfect 100. Overall, a solid and very enjoyable record from a band that is proving to be a force some 20 years after forming. That's a rare feat.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
Europe
Wings Of Tomorrow
Final Countdown
Out Of This World
Prisoners In Paradise
Start From The Dark
Secret Society

Line Up:
Joey Tempest: Vocals
John Norum: Guitar
Ian Haugland: Drums
John Leven: Bass
Mic Michaeli: Keyboards

Essential For Fans Of:
Europe - Start From The Dark
Track Listing
Secret Society *
Always The Pretenders *
The Getaway Plan
Wish I Could Believe *
Let The Children Play *
Human After All *
Love Is Not The Enemy
A Mother's Son
Forever Traveling
Brave And Beautiful Soul
Devil Sings The Blues

--*Best Tracks


28/05/07: Don Watson - manton15@yahoo.com
Rating: 92
Can't seem to eject this out of my player. One of the best releases of the year for me! Hope many more are ahead!!

21/04/07: ken ahl - kahl1212@hotmail.com
Rating: 95
europe sound great these days i like that they are keeping in touch with whats new ,we all should,and this cd is brilliant.im in love with jn guitar playing and on this cd he rocks buy it. peace ken

25/03/07: Matt - mjdavis3297@gmail.com
Rating: 85
another tasty selection from the reformed Europe,this time a bit more melodic that Start From The Dark,but overhall a hit and miss but Always The Pretenders is one of the best songs they have ever done,but just not one where all the songs clicc\k

10/03/07: DAVID SHAKE - davidshake@alice.it
Rating: 95
Who said that this album can't be compared with old EUROPE is just because haven't heard the album enough . The suond is completly different but .... ehi is not 1988 anymore. But if you put more keyboards and echoes on songs like HUMAN AFTER ALL , LOVE IS NOT THE ENEMY , FOREVER TRAVELLING you'll see how much they sounds like classic Europe . Only the first two tracks and LET THE CHILDREN PLAY start from a new way to write a song .... but the rest of the album it's only HARD ROCK .... like was TFC, OOTW or PIP but with the right sound for 2007 . Start from the dark was a more modern and darker album . SECRET SOCIETY is heavier but 100 % europe !!!!!BYE FROM ITALY

20/02/07: Matthew Scott - msrockinjedi@yahoo.co.uk
Rating: 85
This album is Exiting, Fresh, Unexpected, Relevant and contains some really cool songs which contain some great musicianship! Iv'e been a fan of Europe for 22 years and have been a musician for 17 years.I'm glad that they are continuing to grow/evolve and yet stay true to their original sound/style. Buy this record and see how a rock band should mature without selling out. The latest tour was a lesson in showmanship for all the up and coming young bands and the songs from this album sounded even better live!

20/01/07: Steff - maybe@dont.have
Rating: 95
A real grower! Love John Norums guitar playing on this one! Overall a great modern hard rocking album. Maybe missing the big hit but instead it's good all the way! Rock on, boys!

12/12/06: Craig - bisho72@optusnet.com.au
Rating: 20
Utter Crap!!! That's about all I can say about this one. Not a hook or melody in sight. Don't they know that grunge died 10 years ago??? Doesn't even sound like Europe. I suggest you go out and buy one of Joey's solo albums because they are way better than this shit! He doesn't even sound like he's enjoying himself, just old and tired! Almost all of the tracks sound the same too. Same tired riff, same tired songs.
Andrew says that Start From The Dark "lacked killer songs and half of the album was extraordinary the other half ordinary." I totally agree with him on that note but, I would listen to any of the so-called "Ordinary" tracks of that album over any of the shit on this record!
AVOID AT ALL COSTS!

08/12/06: Claudio - clax69@libero.it
Rating: 100
TERRIFIC ALBUM !!!

05/12/06: Nedzad - Nedzad@hotmail.com
Rating: 100
This the Europes best album by it you wont be despotented

30/11/06: Dan - thenuge2@aol.com
Rating: 50
Wow, Andrew you really blew this review for me...I just picked this up as it was rated a 91 (and SFTD was rated an 80). I always gave SFTD 100 since it cooks from beginning to end. Secret Society is a weak, and lame follow up. The band is incredibly hot but Joey Tempest ruins this with his voice. No effort from him at all, he sounds like he is just phoning it in. Sorry I wish I could give more but this album will eventually be sold.

25/11/06: Scott - scottw@mfx.net
Rating: 92
I think this album is great and I like the direction Europe have taken their music. People need to face the music and accept the fact that Europe is not going to sound like the Final Countdown again. This is a good thing in my opinion.

25/11/06: koogles - endangeredcds@hotmail.com
Rating: 36
Fans of the original sound will find this too far removed, meanwhile fans of today's modern rock don't listen to bands like Europe. That leaves Secret Society to exactly that: a secret society of fans in a twilight zone of unconditional acceptance based on a long-expired brand name and a few fans who actually like the Scandi sound filtered through unspectacular production, megaphone vocals and tuned-down guitars. I'm surprised as many people like this as the reviews indicate. I for one think Europe's last album was Prisoners in Paradise, with a not-half-bad solo CD by Tempest being the last listenable project.

21/11/06: Arney - daveandmel@kooee.com.au
Rating: 100
This is definately my album of the year, it'fantastic, just love it. Sure it has the down tuned guitar sound but absolutely choc full of melody & the song writing is just short of brilliant. From the first spin the songs were memorable & mature sounding, it's totally different from 'Prisoners' but I really like the direction the band has gone. Has that real heavy rock sound with great lyrics comparable to Joey's solo efforts, the perfect combination me thinks !!

17/11/06: Martin - Marvidsen2005@yahoo.com
Rating: 98
Simply THE BEST Modern Melodic Hard Rock released in 2006!! -guys grow up, we're NOT in living 1986... Listen to the diversity of the songs; from seventy hard rock, to almost nubreed, to AOR, to 'classic Europe' and then just great classic hook-laden ROCK! To you guys who missed the melodic aspect of the record, do the following; 1. BUY the album and DO listen carefully! 2. Listen to 'Wish I Could Believe', 'Let The Children Play, 'Forever Traveling' and 'Devil Sings The Blues'... Try again!!

16/11/06: CHRIS NELSON - darkcastle2005@yahoo.co.uk
Rating: 92
FIRST LISTENING OF THIS ALBUM WAS VERY HIT AND MISS,BUT NUMEROUS SPINS LATER AND I CAN SAY WHAT A FANTASTIC SLICE OF MODERN MELODIC ROCK.ITS EVEN BETTER THAN START FROM THE DARK,WITH POWERFUL VOCALS AND NOT A WIMPY CARRIE TRACK IN SIGHT.GIVE IT A CHANCE AND IT WILL GROW ON YOU.

16/11/06: Telis - telisvas@tellas.gr
Rating: 99
Great cd with special songs... My favorite Devil signs the blues... I saw them live to Hovet... The best live i've ever seen with Black Sabbath's to Athens...

15/11/06: BIG Mike - BIGMIKE456@hotmail.com
Rating: 20
Nothing catchy here at all. No big choruses. I don't think its much like "start from the dark" myself. That album had some killer songs. This one has a similiar guitar sound but it darker and the songs are not what you'd expect of europe. A real let down. I give them 20 for turning up.

14/11/06: Edu Ruivo Nicolau - liquidsky@bol.com.br
Rating: 90
FANTASTIC ALBUM, I THINK ANDREW SAID EVERYTHING YOU NEED. Don't compare this to old Europe.
VERY GOOD!

12/11/06: Seba - sebaelias@gmail.com
Rating: 96
This is plainly an amazing album. I'm a long time fan, and I love what they did back in the '80s but I can't say how happy I am that they have evolved. People change. Music changes. This is the way life goes. There is nothing that bores me more than a band trying to sound as they sounded when they were "big". Nostalgia acts, such as Poison today (curiously, the 2 least known Poison albums, where they evolved their sound are their best). Europe decided to go the other way, and try to create great music, as they feel it today. And as someone said previously, the change hard came as a surprise to those who had followed Norum & Tempest's solo careers.
Anyway, I think that great songs and great music are just that, despite labels and trends. And this is what Secret Society is all about. Great music.
While I enjoyed Start from the Dar a lot, and I think it contains some really classic tunes (i.e. Start from the Dark, Flames, Wake Up Call), it had some fillers (Song #12, Spirit of the Underdog, America). Secret Society is much more consistent. So far, there are no songs that I would consider fillers. But there are quite a very strong few pieces: Always the Pretenders, Love is Not the Enemy, The Getaway Plan, Let the Children Play, Human After All...I could go on and on...I Wish I Could Believe is an impressive mid-tempo...and Mother's Son and Forever Traveling are tasteful melodic songs. Also, the record sound is much more balanced, and somehow more classic-rock-oriented than SFTD. Norum really lets himself go and plays some great solos, and the band sounds tight.
I'm really happy with this effort, and I think it makes Europe a relevant band in the hard rock/metal scene today.
I just hope I can see them live!!!
Europe rocks!!!

11/11/06: Jeramie - jercar2004@msn.com
Rating: 100
Well in a lot of ways I do agree with every one on this board.
But few things to point out are that it is no longer 1992 or that people and their music does and should change .
Being a musician myself I know these things that u never want to stay the same on anything and repeat yourself if that were true why do more than one album. I love this cd yes I do miss older europe but hey start from the dark roked and so does secret society and If I want to listen to the others Ill put them on . Im just glad that they are making music together agin even thou I do own all the tempest solo stuff as well . rock on

11/11/06: Peppe - peter.sundvall@billerud.com
Rating: 0
First: haven't heard the new album yet
Second: saw the guys in concert last night, so hope my input will still have some merit.
The Hovet arena is home turf for the band, a venue they spent their youth going to to enjoy idols like Rainbow, Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake, much like myself.
The reunion tour, on the back of SFTD, was a triumphant coming home for the band the night I saw them in the same venue in 2004. The new direction didn't mix all that well with the "old" stuff, but it worked surprisingly well in retrospect. Nostalgia was one big factor for me two years ago, and probably for a lot of my fellow Europe fans in the audience on the night, along with the wish for them to do well. This was the come-back we all longed for after all, and most of us spent the evening singing at the top of our lungs, whether it was helping Joey sing Carrie, belching out the celebration of Rock The Night or singing along in welcome to new hits like SFTD or Gotta Have Fait.
This time around (and again, I haven't heard the album) Europe opened with the title track of the new album - what would the crowd response have been had they opened with Rock The Night, Cherokee or even SFTD I wonder? What we got now was low energy, tuned down shite, not the kick-ass opening you'd expect from this excellent band.
Joey's voice was faultless/ amazing throughout the gig and no one can complain about John N:s guitar work but I believe the set list needs a thorough review for the current show to be as efficient as it could be given the talent and song book these guys have at their disposal (new and old material included). The difference between the new and old stuff is immense, in groove and sound as well as in delivery: I have no problem with the new stuff I heard for the first time and I really enjoyed all but 1 new song (and I'm probably repeating myself: haven't heard the new album) - the problem is that the band's level of energy falls substantially when playing the new songs compared to the hits we know and love.
New, unheard songs always run the risk of getting a different, less enthusiastic crowd response compared to more familiar material. This is to be expected, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. Next time around, the response will be different if the songs have the staying power (evidenced by the response received for Flames, STFD and an accoustic snippet of Hero). But GUYS! You wrote the stuff, hopefully including it on your NEW album because you feel it's the BEST you have achieved this time around: act like it, don't apologize and insert the new songs where they deserve to be - NOT AS OPENERS, NOT AS CLOSERS! And Joey, the megaphone was great for two songs, the seventh time it was a bit too much. Great voice though! All this just because I care a lot and know what you guys could achieve.

11/11/06: Michael - michael.marxen@t-online.de
Rating: 8
Not a single melodie to stick in the ear. Has nothing to do what was Europe before "Start From The Dark" but a lot with downtuned guitars and very moder sound. Will not listen to it a second time.

10/11/06: John Tsoutis - jtspeed12@yahoo.com
Rating: 94
Reading the reviews people have given this seems to be very hit and miss. Interestingly nobody has mentioned the genesis of the new sound that Europe has had. Die hard fans like myself have all the solo albums from Norum and Tempest (and even hunted around for the other band members past efforts - Clockwise etc) and this transition is no surprise at all.

Joey Tempest went to a more bluesy, contemporary sound as Norum went instant metal, and has grunged it up ever since introducing new sounds on each solo effort. Check ou this Face the Truth album and compare it to his latest, Optimus and you'll see what I mean.

Alot of this work is the new sound you hear here. I absolutely LOVE this album (yes I am biased) and being an Ozzie fan that's a big ask as they have never toured in OZ. All the songs are VERY strong in my mind, the absolute standout song I thought was Let the Children play. I'm amazed that others think it's a good song and not something that absolutely stands out. It is a stronger album than Start from the Dark, but Europe have never made a bad one. I think they have great songmanship and melodies and Norum's guitar work is unbelievable.

I played this CD in a training course I ran, I had everyone singing the songs by the end of it, most comments were positive about it and people couldn't believe it was Europe. Let's hope it is the start of a resurgence for them back in Australia. Long Live Europe.

10/11/06: dai - .com
Rating: 100
Secret society is a tremendous achievement for europe a forward thinking melodic rock band who aren't afraid to experiment with thier sound .If they keep making albums of this calibur i for one will be there to support them. Monster riffs ,great hooks and a great voice . Rock on europe!!!!

10/11/06: Charles Williams - acoolguy88@hotmail.com
Rating: 95
I'm going to echo every last comment from the last review. This album is indeed enjoyable start to finish and is the best in my opinion also. Not one filler track on here. I'd have given it a 100, but I am still waiting for them to do a really eerie type of ballad that holds true to their original sound and this new riff heavy side mixed together. I actually didnt care for Roll With You on the last record- thought it was a chessy ballad. I missed having a true to life ballad on here- thus the 95.

10/11/06: Thomas - no mail
Rating: 100
This CD simply ROCKS! I like every Europe CD and I am a fan for many years now (not since the 80s but at the time "Final Countdown" was release I was only 6 years old). But music has changed in the last 15 years and I for my part do not want to hear another "Final Countdown" since it is already on my CD shelf.

To me this CD is the perfect combination of old and new, brigding Europe in 1986 and 2006 (remember 20 years in between) and bringing together all the things that made them famous then.

There is not a bad song on this record, Europe have never been so groovy and rocked that much!

10/11/06: Glenda - glendatienda@yahoo.com
Rating: 100
This album is awsome! Every song is good. Secret Society is their best album yet.

10/11/06: Nicodim - reverendnicorim@gmail.com
Rating: 90
This is the album 2 think over it at least. I never expected it will B so hard 2 understand and 2 love it. All previous Europe albums were easy 2 listen, but this one left me frustrated after first listening session. But soon after that (and after another 3-4 attempts 2 catch the mood of the album) I finally realised it's greatness.
It hasn't so many potential hits like Start From The Dark, but still it's awesome. U have 2 listen SS correctly and patiently. Then the understanding will come and U'll find it at least beautiful and strong as Europe album must B.

10/11/06: TIM (2) - Tim.t.robertson@ericsson.com
Rating: 40
I am not one of the those 'stuck in the 80's' fans, & I also love a good dose of modern rock. But it has to have hooks in it. And melodies. And tuneful vocals/guitars. This has none of the above. Joey Tempest & John Norum have never in their careers delivered such inept & half-hearted performances as this (even on "SFTD" they seemed vaguely interested). There are some decent tunes ("Always the Pretenders" & "Let the Children Play" both work well) but there is also some utter garbage (the title track is just abysmal).

The toughest thing about choosing an entirely new direction is taking your past fans along with you. Very few bands have managed the transition effectively. I applaud the fact they realise they have to move on & progress, & choosing the modern rock path will certainly make them popular as it is a hugely successful genre, but there are a million bands out there that do this better than Europe.

"Start From the Dark" was a pretty average album, & this follows a similar path. Norum & Tempest are better than mediocre efforts like this.

10/11/06: Pete - pevey@aol.com
Rating: 20
Not worth the money. If you like a VERY modern sounding band then go for it. If you still like 80s sounding bands (like me) then dont buy it.

09/11/06: Per - no thanks
Rating: 97
Agree fully with Scott - sensational! This for those of us that can digest that Europe have left the 80-ies (Scott - a different MILLENIUM it is as well).

Superb high song standard througout the album, however with 2-3 average ones (title song being one of them).

Very inspired - the guys are totally into this and it pays off big time.

I'll see them at Hovet here in Stockholm in about 7 h - now that's some countdown.

Cheers

09/11/06: Martin - mj@howsepascal.fsnet.co.uk
Rating: 95
Andrew's pretty much spot on with his review - as usual! Take the best bits from this and from Shot From The Dark, and you have the quintessential modern melodic rock album. The musicianship is exemplorary, and the songwriting is top-drawer stuff. I know it's not "Cherokee" or "Carrie", but give it a chance to grow, and you'll find yourself humming these tunes as much as you did "Final Countdown". It'll be interesting to see how these songs sit next to the older stuff when they play live. I'm looking forward to seeing how they blend together.

09/11/06: Wardy - micktward@ozemail.com.au
Rating: 86
Okay I admit to be an ever so slight closet fan of this band and while on one hand I despise the Final Countdown and always have, I embrace their musicianship and ability to pen a kick ass track.

Europe always had a great sense of melody and its a shame they fell victim to 80s hair metal and the need to write radio friendly hits, for their debut and follow up album Wings of Tomorrow at the start of the 80s was a sound not unlike Dio era Sabbath (Neon Knights for example!) amoungst others. Both albums have gone on to be two of the most credible yet tragically overlooked albums of the 80s.

Europes return to the scene in 2003 was most welcome and although they did not return to their debut sound Ive outlined above, Start From the Dark was however a good blend of familiar Europe but with a lot more heaviness, and with a good mix of contemporary rock. And it worked. While the album obviously contained some crud as one would expect from a Europe album (no offence intended), a good half of the album was kick ass rock of the highest calibre.

And onto Secret Society. Well pretty much we have another Start From the Dark. The musicianship throughout is great, but while it kicks when it should it still has some filler. Having said that though I agree that here we have a more consistent album as even the lesser songs work. The ballads are darker, more mature, and for want of a better word better! Second track in and lead single Always the Pretenders just kills, The Getaway Plan, Let the Children Play, and Human After All all contain the trademark new Europe sound. Wish I Could Believe is a stellar sing along rock ballad and Mothers Son is another fine Europe ballad at their darkest. I kid you not these songs are quite the ordeal! Mind you I'd love just a couple of faster tracks alaWings/Scream of Anger style, but that was then this is now...

Andrews point regarding the vocal effects. Case in point - title track Secret Society. I enjoy em but a little less would have meant a lot more.

So, a great follow up to Start From the Dark but not nearly as forward thinking as it could have been. But while the band are happy to roll around in this current style and their re-found fame, Im all for it, count me in guilty as charged!

(Hated the first track and hated the cover. A month later I rate the opening track and dig the cover. Go figure!?)

09/11/06: Sava - svemirski_modulator@yahoo.com
Rating: 18
PURE CRAP! Sad but true!

09/11/06: Scott - no way
Rating: 100
Sensational album!! I echo many of Andrew's thoughts, but I give this 100% because there's not one second I don't enjoy on this album. I can't downgrade ANYTHING. All killer, no filler. It has all the elements that make Europe great: Joey's distinct vocals, sweet guitar solos, monster riffs, charming melodies, and HUGE HOOKS! This is one of the best melodic hard rock albums I've heard in the past 15 years. Powerful, Energetic, Soulful, Inspirational, and downright ENTERTAINING!

I've been a fan for 20 years and I think "Secret Society" is by far the best album Europe has ever made. OF COURSE there will be negative reviews from the stuck-in-the-1980's crowd. We will surely hear comments like "sell out", "crap", "too modern" and "doesn't sound like 'true' Europe" from these negative-minded critics (just like with Start from the dark). What these people fail to understand is that Europe has always been a "modern" rock band. No two albums have sounded alike, and every album sounded modern when it was recorded (The Final Countdown was a "modern rock" album in the 1980's). The band has always been progressive, the only differnce now is that we are in a different decade (and different CENTURY for that matter). Most importantly, it's instantly apparent the BAND IS TOTALLY ENJOYING ITSELF ON THIS RECORD! When a band loves what it's doing, that is NOT a sell-out, whether YOU like it or not.

The critics can write all the nasty reviews they want. I don't care anymore. "Secret Society" is a sensational album and I will enjoy it forever! I would love to hear each and every song on this album PERFORMED LIVE IN CONCERT (even at the expense of the classic material), and that's the highest compliment I can give "Secret Society". Well done guys!!


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