Album review: ECLIPSE – Armageddonize

ECLIPSE - Armageddonize

Frontiers Records [Release Date 20.02.15]

In the crowded field of Scandinavian melodic rock hopefuls, Eclipse took a massive step forward with their fourth album in 2012, ‘Bleed And Scream’ which topped many end year best ofs. It was another triumph for singer Erik Martensson, who has established a considerable reputation as songwriter, even writing the late Jimi Jamison’s last album, and producer and member of melodic rock supergroup W.E.T.

What surprised many was the sheer heaviness of the album compared both to Eclipse and Eric’s previous works and with their latest, rather tackily titled release, this trend is taken a stage further and really does establish a distinctive Eclipse identity. It would be a shame if this were to be just pigeonholed under AOR as this would appeal to fans of the substantial European metal scene and they could as easily thrive at Bloodstock as at Firefest.

Opener ‘Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry’ explodes out of the starting gate with a brash swaggering feel and guitarist Magnus Henriksson shredding his way through yet with a distinctively Scandinavian melodic chorus,  while ‘Stand On Your Feet’ for me is the stand out track of the album, combining metallic riffage and a modern production with melody and is perhaps a direction Europe should have taken rather than their bluesy retro sound.

‘The Storm’ comes over as a slightly heavier version of fellow countrymen H.E.A.T. and ‘Blood Enemies’, in a similar way to ‘Battlegrounds’ from the last album, draws from European power metal in both its music and lyrical imagery with a slight celtic feel too.

What is pleasing about the album is that it never sounds samey with each track having its own mood. ‘Wide Open’ has the strong, searing vocals that call to mind another Scandi great in TNT, while after ‘Live Like I’m Dying’ takes the pace down, ‘Breakdown’ with its bottleneck guitar intro sees Eclipse dabbling in new territory,  that of the ‘Philly sound’ where hair metal bands like Cinderella and their ilk explored a dirty, bluesy side.

The album then takes a dip in quality with ‘Love Bites’ and the Skid Row-esque ‘Caught Up In The Rush’, which are both rather metal by the numbers, before closing by taking Eclipse further along the musical spectrum. ‘One Life’ has an aggressively modern feel almost in a Linkin Park/Papa Roach mould which may be too much for more traditional melodic rockers to stomach and the rapid fire riffing of ‘All Died Young’ is another statement of their heavier direction.

Throughout the production is sparkling and has a modern feel and yet the melodic vocals and screaming guitar solos come through crystal clear.

Despite their reputation among connoisseurs, Eclipse have yet to achieve the high public profile of many of the newer breed of Scandinavian hard rock bands. Hopefully a Spring UK tour will generate some momentum and if marketed right this diverse set of songs, sharply produced and well played, will make a major contribution to dragging them towards the big league.  **** 1/2

Review by Andy Nathan

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