Album review: ECLIPSE – Viva La Victouria (CD/DVD)

ECLIPSE- Viva La Victouria (CD/DVD)

Frontiers Records [Release Date 6.11.20]

This package of goodies from Eclipse is very timely, as their last album ‘Paradigm’ rather got swamped in the rush of autumn 2019 releases, then after gearing up for a huge tour, it never reached the UK prior to the pandemic. More generally a live release is a reminder of what we have lost and there will be a shortage of these releases for a while yet.

Let’s analyse this ‘eat all you can’-style package. The DVD gives us no less than three films, with new bassist Victor Crusner also serving as director. The main feature is a live show on home territory in Gothenburg just before last Christmas. It is simply but effectively filmed, and at 80 minutes and 17 songs with barely a pause for breath is longer than any of their UK shows I can recall.

They obviously had full confidence in the then new album as seven songs are featured, including a pair of real anthems to kick off, ‘Viva La Victoria’ with its earworm Hank Marvin meets Gary Moore guitar line, and ‘Mary Leigh’.

The album’s immediate predecessors ‘Monumentum’ and ‘Armageddonize’ are also well represented, but the set is very light on their earlier moments. There are none from their breakthrough album ‘Are You Ready to Rock’ and just a solitary cut from 2012’s more metallic ‘Bleed and Scream’ in ‘Battlegrounds’. This has an unusual arrangement with just frontman Erik Martensson and guitarist Magnus Hendriksson on one of a fair few acoustic moments in the set where they take down the pace, and the audience take over.

Interestingly for an international release all the between song chat is in Swedish, but it doesn’t spoil the enjoyment of an energetic display. As the crowd go crazy to the huge hooks of ‘Stand on Your Feet’, ‘Runaways’ and ‘Never Look Back’  I found myself wistfully looking back to those days of mass participation with like minded fans and hoping they come again.

The second show is a ‘Live from the Quarantine’ show broadcast as a live stream from a studio basement in Stockholm early in lockdown.  It is an hour long and the 12 song set has quite a few differences to the Gothenburg one, opening with an electric version of ‘Battlegrounds’ and with ‘Bleed and Scream’ making a welcome return. The sound has a slightly more raw and less polished feel, as does the presentation with crew members working their way around the band and more spontaneous banter.

Finally, there is a 40 minute documentary,  primarily on the making of ‘Paradigm’, which may be a little late but gives some interesting insights from the band members in their flawless English, including showing a wider range of musical influences than you might immediately expect.

The double CD is in my view less essential as the sound suffers compared to the actual concert experience, a common gripe with many of these audio-visual releases. The rhythm guitars in particular sound too light in the mix and the sound does not quite capture the sheer intensity of an Eclipse show.

Nevertheless it is again a great value package, including the whole of the Gothenburg show, a couple of acoustic tracks, a trio from the Quarantine set and studio and live versions of the single from earlier this year, a surprisingly effective version of a Swedish indie pop hit ‘Driving One Of Your Cars’.

It is hard to see what more an Eclipse fan could want at this moment, and for those yet to discover the hard hitting yet melodic charms of one of the very best Scandinavian acts of the last decade, this   package gives remarkable value for money and is as good a place as any to start.   DVD *****     CD ****

Review by Andy Nathan

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