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Journey-Eclipse album reviewChambers Of Rock
June 29, 2011
Yes, it's here!
The new album 'Eclipse' from Journey, possibly or should that be probably ..., America's favorite AOR / Melodic rock band is here!
That of course is a 'bold' statement, but based on how fans of the band seem to vote with their feet, in attending the bands' constant lengthy US road trips and how the fans have once more rallied behind the band and the latest albums, with 'Revelation' charting at number five, in Billboards Top 200 back in 2008 and this one having already charted at number thirteen.
Not bad for a band now featuring a lead vocalist they found through You Tube?
To be honest that's very harsh on the very talented Arnel Pineda, who was previously fronting 'The Zoo,' a covers band in the Philippines, but whose talents vocally are all too clear to hear.
Journey, currently features founder members Neal Schon (Guitars, b/vocals) and Ross Valory (Bass, b/vocals), alongside longtime member since 1980, Jonathan Cain (Keyboards, Guitars, b/vocals), drummer / vocalist Deen Castronovo and the aforementioned, Arnel Pineda.
So, are you all excited? Enjoying it so far, those that have already bought it? It's probably going to take a lot of diehard Journey fans some getting into I must say. There's a distinctly heavier, harder, dare I say almost darker edge to it than anything from the band in years.
It's clearly a very good piece of work, but it's taken me a little getting into and I can honestly say, that I have enjoyed every Journey line up, I've ever heard over the many years.
Opening track 'City of Hope,' will no doubt keep the diehard fans very happy! Some nice guitar build up from Neal Schon, with keys easing in with the band close behind and a vocal from Arnel that will keep the old fans of Steve Perry's vocal style very happy.
I'd just like to add at this point that yes, the band did pick the man to sing for them since he could clearly hit those Perry notes, but he's also got his own pitch / tone, which you'll hear throughout the album.
Guitars, alongside hi-hats lead next track 'Edge of the Moment' and Schon's guitar leads this track, right the way through.
Fans of old may be thinking, OK, this sounds a little different and it does, but fans that have stuck with the band since Perry's departure may well remember the different edge the band kicked in, when Steve Augeri initially replaced Perry.
Augeri for those that didn't know it, sung on three Journey studio albums over an eight year period.
'Chain of Love' starts atmospherically, not unlike an 'X Files' intro, as it builds with keyboards growing and swirling, alongside Arnel's haunting vocal and then in kicks a Led Zeppelin style riff and supporting mystic string sounds through the verses.
The vocal drives a big chorus and this is one track that has really grown on me. Some seriously nice layers in this six plus minute mini epic track, give it a chance and you'll grow to love it too!
OK Journey power ballad fans, here's a track for you starting with strings, piano and vocals before the drums kick in, slightly in and out of time initially and it freaks me and I've played the track a number of times back and forth and it still sounds clever. Schon is busy playing his heart (Guitar!) out throughout. When you play it, take a moment here to hear how much he's squeezing every ounce of sound that he can from his guitar.
It's another long'ish track at just under six and a half minutes and you'll find that in fact there is just one track that is less than four minutes and that's the closing instrumental.
Everything else on here is pretty much five or six plus minutes long, quite possibly why it takes a little more getting into overall.
'Anything Is Possible' starts a little laid back before getting into a mid-paced more commercial (Traditional) Journey style song. Just listen to the big harmonies in the choruses here, much more predominant.
Schon really goes for it toward the latter part of the song, riffing 'til his heart's content!
Atmospherics are back on the intro to 'Resonate' which is a darker number generally, as it grows and builds to a slower, deeper, yet steady paced number, but Arnel still puts his mark on this with a very strong vocal.
'She's A Mystery' next is quite different again for Journey, a very interesting track, that starts very off the wall if you will, with just the vocals/guitar/bass/strings going, then about a third of the way into the song, just a little hi-hit and some brushes on the snare, then just past the halfway mark it starts to grow and then as it hit hits the final third, it really kicks in and rocks darkly!
This track is actually a co-write between Schon, Cain and Pineda, the only one here from these three..
With 'Human Feel' I guess you could almost be forgiven for not thinking we've not got a little Santana going on, with the big rhythmic drumming intro that just builds the song up. There's sound Hammond, some riffing and chunky guitars and big harmony kicks in just before the halfway mark and then Mr. Schon just let's rip with some serious licks! Another epic like track for sure.
I will say, the band try to get a little more on track to true Journey with 'Ritual' next, some synths, piano in a punchy up tempo number, ala 'Separate Ways' or 'Be Good To Yourself,' although still a little rockier.
One thing that is apparent and is perhaps a little sad is that all songs are written by just Schon and Cain, with the exception of two tracks, the previously mentioned 'She's a Mystery' and the next number 'To Whom It May Concern,' with input from Arnel and it seems a family member E. Pineda(His wife?), which works towards a more classic Journey sound, but again as much of the album is, it's another mini epic in its own right.
'Someone' is the last vocal track on the album and it's a lot more again working the traditional Journey sound, mid to up tempo driven number.
Neal Schon guitar playing is clearly the overall driving sound throughout, more so perhaps than in a long time.
'Venus' is an instrumental riff fest for Neal Schon basically; although I think Deen Castronovo is getting quite a free reign on this one too.
The previous album 'Revelation' was overall a more safe direction perhaps; whereas with 'Eclipse' the band is without doubt trying to reach out to a wider audience and I would say they will most likely win a few new fans with this one too.
It's a bold move and a bold new world for Journey with a more edgy vibe.
Let's hope the old ones aren't disappointed by lack of more syrupy ballads!
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