Frontiers [Release Date 24.03.17]
He may be the most prolific, in demand writer and producer on the melodic rock scene, but no-one could accuse Erik Martensson of neglecting his day job as lead singer and guitarist with Eclipse. Two years after the excellent ‘Armageddonize’ the Swedes are back with another album, bearing another neologism for an album title.
While pigeonholed in the melodic rock bracket, each album has seen Eclipse pushing at the heavier boundaries of the genre, and ‘Vertigo’ kicks things off with a riff that sounds as if it should be accompanying the dulcet tones of Tommy Vance as he counted down the chart on the Friday Rock Show.
Yet the overall impression of this album is that they have taken a step away from the fast and furious pace that characterised their last two albums, complete with double kick drumming, for a no less rockier but more mainstream sound, almost taking them back to the vibe of 2008’s breakthrough ‘Are You Ready to Rock’.
Bringing things more up to date, ‘Never Look Back’ has a gargantuan chorus comparable to contemporaries HEAT and both that and ‘Killing Me’ have the combination of big choruses and modern beats shared by the likes of Sixx AM and even Shinedown.
‘Downfall of Eden’ would appeal to fans of European power metal and also has the celtic, 80’s Gary Moore-esque feel witnessed on previous songs like ‘Battlegrounds’, while the frenetic album pace is only relaxed once with the semi-ballad ‘Hurt’.
With keyboards kept to a minimum, the Eclipse sound is distinctively guitar heavy and Magnus Henriksson’s work is exemplary throughout, whether with his licks cutting through to reinforce the vocal melody on ‘Jaded’, the big riff on ‘Born to Lead’ or his solos on ‘For Better or For Worse’.
It makes a winning combination with Erik’s way with hook filled choruses, as illustrated on ‘Night Comes Crawling’ which reminded me of their fellow countrymen Europe and Treat who blazed the trail for this musical style.
Yet at other times Eclipse take a retro step towards the traditional heavy rock we grew up on- ‘No Way Back’ fuses a strong, melodic chorus to a metallic riff that could have come out of Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Bark at the Moon’ album, and this direction is more fully explored on album closer ‘Black Rain’ where a slow intro gives way to a Rainbow Rising style riff, topped off with a rapid fire, almost neo-classical, solo from Markus.
In the classic tradition yet sounding fresh and vigorous, Eclipse have if anything raised the bar even higher from their previous trio of top class albums. If there is any justice, this album will help them break out of their relatively small, cult market and give them the ‘big mo’ implied by its title. *****
Review by Andy Nathan
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