Great Metal Albums of 1986: Europe- The Final Countdown

When MTV played the video for Europe’s best known single of all time, “The Final Countdown,” on the heavy metal half hour, I am sure that I wasn’t the only one who reacted, “This isn’t heavy metal.” Although the keyboard melody is very very catchy, it wasn’t what I expected from a metal song. Furthermore, when Joey Tempest is showing what a good vocalist he is, I hear more bass than the power chords of the guitar. Again, not what I had come to expect from a metal band. However, the guitar solo on the song is an absolute killer, so that made me rethink, a little. Being one to give the benefit of the doubt, I came to the conclusion that Europe was a metal band who just made a commercially viable song to get themselves noticed. This was nothing new from metal bands at the time.

With the success of the single, the question asked was, “What is the rest of the album which bears the single’s name like?” For me, the answer came with the second song on the album, “Rock the Night,” which was also released as a single. This rocker dispelled any belief that Europe were a heavy metal who leaned more towards synth pop in order to make it big. By the way, “Rock the Night” is my all time favourite Europe song.

Even the power ballad, “Carrie” didn’t change my view of the band following “Rock the Night.” Besides, I was already familiar with the fact that many metal bands have their token ballad. Some have more than one. “Carrie” is okay as far as power ballads go, not spectacular but okay.

Looking back, maybe it was a good ploy by the band to put their three singles first on the album. Sometimes, this could be a bad move if the remaining songs aren’t up to scratch but that isn’t a worry on “The Final Countdown.” “Danger on the Tracks” just completely rocks and after a few recent listens, I have completely under appreciated the guitar work of John Norum, He really cooks on this particular song. Because it wasn’t a single, “Danger on the Track” qualifies for hidden gem.

“Ninja” is okay, it rocks but I get the feeling it would be even better if the guitar had been turned up more. The keyboards accompaniment works well here. There is no better way to tell the tragic story of the Native Americans than the way Europe do with the song, “Cherokee.” The hard rocking beat does not take from the message of the lyrics in any way. In fact, it only serves to make the message more powerful. The keyboard solo is quite good on it.

“Time has Come” starts out as if it’s going to be another power ballad but the power chords after the ballad like intro makes me say no. It has a catchy vibe through the power rhythms of Norum and he lays down another great guitar solo. I love the way his rhythm guitar trades with the guitar solo in the middle of the song. Joey’s vocals sound the best on “Heart of Stone.” The vocals really take command here with the band in full support. Another great guitar solo helps too. “On the Loose” is a cool song incorporating everything from the other tracks. For years, I have questioned whether it should have been the closer as opposed to “Love Chaser.” Nothing wrong with “Love Chaser” as a song, I just think it should swap places with “On the Loose” or is that me just nitpicking.

Track Listing:

  1. The Final Countdown
  2. Rock the Night
  3. Carrie
  4. Danger on the Track
  5. Ninja
  6. Cherokee
  7. Time Has Come
  8. Heart of Stone
  9. On the Loose
  10. Love Chaser

Joey Tempest- lead vocals

John Norum- guitar

John Leven- bass

Mic Michaeli- keyboards, backing vocals

Ian Haugland- drums, backing vocals

A big song, a lead singer who, according to my ex wife and sister, was a heartthrob and a great album. It is no wonder why 1986 was Europe’s year.

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14 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1986: Europe- The Final Countdown”

  1. When the guys from work and I go disc golfing I always play the Final Countdown to get pumped up. Besides Carrie I don’t think I know anything else by Europe. “Rock the Night” was pretty fun, I’ll have to give this album a proper listen! Great article!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I just loved Rock The Night. It even sounded fluffy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like this one, but if you saw my post on Monday you will know that Wings of Tomorrow is my fave.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I just posted this on Mike Ladano’s blog…. I have never really listened to Europe outside of Job coming out to the Final Countdown on Arrested Development. Out of the blue, I decided to sample this album and put it on my SD card for the car today. Then I come onto WordPress and read two freakin’ posts about it! Weird!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I agree with you that the guitar could be turned up more! But it was the 80s I guess right?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. OMG! I loved this album and it’s one of those few that I’ve listened to fairly regularly most of my life!

    Here’s a question for ya…. Do you remember the Europe ‘video game’? It was corny as hell and a little bit disturbing because it had just their heads bouncing around the screen!

    Liked by 1 person

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