Atomic Fire Records (Release date 14.01.22)
Kee Marcello’s recording debut with Europe was 1988’s ‘Out of This World’ and I well remember how, celebrating 30 years of the album on a solo tour, the guitarist expressed his pride in the record- so much so that he has borrowed the album title for his new outfit.
Alongside long-time bassist Ken Sandin and drummer Darby Todd, the last piece of the puzzle was Fair Warning singer Tommy Heart, resuming their partnership that saw the ‘Kee of Hearts’ album released in 2017. Though as an interesting curio, three songs in demo form with Kee singing are included as bonus tracks.
Opener ‘Twilight’ is smothered in parping keys throughout (possibly from Don Airey who makes a guest appearance) and boasts Tommy’s rough-edged slightly accented vocals and one of Kee’s fluid solos in which he bends those notes in trademark elongated manner. However at seven and a half minutes it is rather longer than it needs to be, and the verses have a rather incomplete to them. .
On ‘Hangin On’ a relatively weak verse is compensated for by a big chorus with a bank of soaring vocals that call to mind TNT and a great solo from Kee, albeit rather out of context with the song. But ‘In a Million Years’ is a real grower- reading that this was an unused Europe song from the early nineties makes sense, with a familiar lyrical theme of travelling into the future and Tommy’s superb vocals even sounding uncannily close to Joey Tempest.
The impression of the opening songs is that they have moments of quality but do not flow naturally- ‘Lighting up My Dark’, boasting good guitar solos, and ‘Staring at the Sun’, with a Journey feel in places, both have fine melodic choruses but feel a little disjointed in places, such as a vintage seventies synyth intro on the latter totally out of kilter with the rest of the song..
‘The Warrior’ is the most differently structured song on show, a fast-paced, loose limbed number reminiscent of Van Halen and Mr Big with suitable widdling from Kee.
After that though we move firmly into the Scandi melodic rock mainstream with a closing quartet of songs that are quite simply glorious. ‘Up To You’ is the most melodic to date with the massed vocals soaring in almost symphonic fashion on the chorus, while ‘Ain’t Gonna Let You Go’ is a big anthem with a good hook on the chorus, keys and drums playing off each other and a Journey meets Europe vibe.
Then to end a mainly up tempo album with two ballads risks ending on a downbeat note but the quality of both justifies the track ordering. ‘Only You Can Teach Me How to Love’ has a lush feel with another big chorus with soaring vocals, reminding me of Tommy’s fellow countrymen Zeno; and ‘Not Tonight’ is a big scarf waver, slower but expressive with a particularly sweet solo from Kee.
Though the songwriting could be tighter in places, when they hit their stride this is an impressive collection of melodic rock anthems. As their moniker might suggest Out Of This World will appeal to those traditionalists who prefer the old-school Europe to the current incarnation of the band. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
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Power Plays w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
SMOKING MARTHA Wild & Free (Xelon Entertainment)
TRUE NORTH Fix (Out Of Line Music)
COLLECTED Say When (indie)
ABOUT KINGS Heaven On Down The Highway (indie)
WHALEDOG Leave Me Alone (indie)
LED BY LANTERNS Six Feet Down (indie)
KROOKED TONGUE Freaky Love (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 10 January (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 BITE THE BULLET End Of The Line (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 CRYSTAL BALL Crysteria (Massacre Records)
14:00-16:00 SEAN TAYLOR The Beat Goes On (indie)
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