Having built quite a reputation with their critically acclaimed last two albums, Are You Ready To Rock in 2008 and 2012’s Bleed And Scream, it is perhaps surprising that this was Eclipse’s first headline UK show, a sole date squeezed into a European tour.
While melodic rock gigs in London are notoriously poorly attended, many had travelled some distance and swelled the crowd to well in excess of those present for bigger names here such as House of Lords.
Unfortunately, with four bands on the bill and some technical gremlins which never totally went away, the Swedes did not hit the stage until well after 10. Though more associated with Firefest than the Bloodstocks of this world, they are as metallic as melodic rock comes with the aggression in their songs really coming over live.
Unusually for the genre they rely on a basic guitar-bass-drums format and great credit reflects on guitarist Magnus Henriksson for carrying the sound in such a set up without keyboards or a second guitar to flush out the sound.
Baby-faced singer (and the melodic rock world’s most prolific current writer) Erik Martensson has an easy manner on stage and his vocals are never less than melodic on strong choruses such as the opener ‘Wylde One’ (sic) and the TNT-like ‘SOS’.
‘Battlegrounds’ came over as Gary Moore’s ‘Over The Hills And Far Away’ on steroids, and ‘Wake Me Up’ and ‘Bleed And Scream’ combined blistering heaviness with the accessible choruses so associated with Scandinavian melodic rock, while the changes of pace in ‘Bitter Taste’ gave it an epic feel.
Magnus’ classically-inspired soloing during ‘Under The Gun’ called to mind a heavier version of Odyssey-era Yngwie Malmsteen, while they slipped in a couple of heavier numbers omitted from their set a fortnight earlier at the Frontiers Rock Festival – ‘Hometown Calling’, introduced by some typically furious drumming from Robban Back, and ‘After The End Of The World’, before ‘About To Break’ momentarily slowed the pace.
Three quarters of the band are also in supergroup W.E.T. and I found it fascinating when Erik introduced their version of ‘One Love’ as a song that they had written for Eclipse but donated to that project as it was too ‘poppy’. ‘Breaking My Heart Again’ finished a 70 minute set with its typical mixture of uncompromising music and a singalong chorus.
The low rent, student vibe of the Underworld is not the most auspicious place from which to do so, but I left hoping that this signalled the start of a big launch to give Eclipse the exposure they deserve in this country.
Review and photos by Andy Nathan
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DARWIN Cosmic Rays (indie)
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12:00-13:00 WHITESNAKE Flesh & Blood (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 BUFORD POPE The Waiting Game (Unchained Records)
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