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Eclipse Album Review
by Don & Ron Higgins - Hard Rock Haven
August 02, 2011

Eclipse is the amazing new album from the iconic rock group Journey. This album could be summed up by one word: WOW! With that said, this is not simply a continuation of their last album but a creative step forward. The last album, Revelation, which was the first one to introduce Arnel Pineda to the world, was a fantastic album that had a classic Journey sound and set out to prove that Arnel could fill some big shoes. It seemed like they wanted to prove that they could still make a great Journey album. This time, it seems like they just wanted to make a great record to please themselves. There's a slight shift away from their pop sound and they have progressed to making a harder edged, artistically rich, heavy rocking album.

What makes this album different is, first of all, it's heavier and isn't filled with a lot of light, radio-friendly ballads with heavy keyboards. If you're looking for an album filled with songs that sound like "Open Arms," "Faithfully," and "After all These Years" and the like, then you're going to have to keep looking. This album is very much dominated by Neal Schon's amazing guitar work. He riffs, shreds and solos like the guitar hero he's always been. He sounds like he just joined PX-90 and then drank a few Red Bulls before plugging into his amp. Also, the rhythm section, particularly Dean, is playing with a vengeance. This may have the most aggressive drumming of any Journey album to date. And conversely, Jonathon Cain's keyboards are very much in the background on this release. When you do hear them, it's often to add texture or you simply hear him playing piano. However he was still very involved in the writing. Another difference is that most of the songs are over five and six minutes long which shows that they are concentrating on the song itself and not worrying so much about making a radio friendly hit.

The album starts off strong with "City of Hope." It's an up-tempo rocker with the guitars out front right off the bat...which occurs throughout the album. Arnel also starts off strong, singing with passion and hanging onto notes with control and power. The chorus is catchy with group harmonies, "There's a city of hope beyond all fears, where miracles happen where truth can be heard." There's a good guitar solo around four minutes in. This one is somewhat radio-friendly. For about the last minute of the song, the band starts rocking with an instrumental fade where Neal and Dean are absolutely on fire. This lets you know that this is not your average melodic rock album. It's a great start to a great album.

Next up is "Edge of the Moment" which starts off with guitars and noticeable bass and drums for about the first 45 seconds before Arnel comes in. It doesn't sound like typical Journey but it's good. It's a heavier song, kind of modern and aggressive. Neal uses cool chorus effects and then solos in the middle and then again at the end. And Arnel is really starting to shine. Track three is a standout tracked called "Chain of Love". Ethereal keyboards morph into piano, then the song builds. Arnel starts to sing with power and holds on to long notes with great effect. Then after a minute and a half we get guitars, then drums and then a catchy chorus you can sing along with. Song four is a unique song called "Tantra." It starts out as a nice piano ballad, but then as often happens on this album, the songs shifts around two minutes into a solid, mid-tempo rocker. It also features hopeful, positive lyrics which also occur throughout. It ends like it started with vocals and piano. A great song! Next comes "Anything is Possible," a mid-tempo rocker where you can hear the whole band including piano. It's very uplifting and hopeful with a nice, catchy chorus. It could be a radio hit and it is one of the most accessible songs on the album. It also features an outstanding, shredding solo by Neal. Track six, "Resonate" is another solid mid-tempo rocker with a big chorus and features tight musicianship by all members.

The second half of the CD starts out with another standout number called "She's a Mystery". It's a groovy ballad that really showcases Arnel's amazing voice along with great vocals by the rest of the band. There is great subtle guitar work both electric and acoustic with fitting percussion and keyboards for texture. Once again on this album, at five minutes it switches gears... starting with a jamming rhythm guitar. The whole song starts rocking with solos, drums and screaming vocals. Very cool! Neal wails through the outro, abusing the whammy bar and all. Next up is "Human Feel," another standout track and the second in a row to clock in at almost seven minutes long. It starts with funky drums and some guitar tricks until Neal starts his rhythm guitar. Then you hear the B3 organ and also Ross's bass is very noticeable in the mix. It's a real showcase for all of the talented musicians. This is followed by "Ritual," another up-tempo rocker where Neal rocks out and solos while Jonathan does some Jerry Lee Lewis inspired piano work. The song changes direction around two and a half minutes, then changes a third time a minute later and then it comes back around. Song ten is a ballad featuring guitars and keyboards and sounds more like a ‘typical' typical Journey song. This would be a good choice for a single and features Arnel's powerful vocals along with ambitious lyrics. Next is "Someone" which is yet another catchy, up-tempo song and has a more typical Journey feel. The final song on this wonderful CD is "Venus", a rocking instrumental. The whole band rocks out but once again Neal shows how it's done and Dean is prominently featured like on the entire album, even throwing in a little double bass! It fades out then fades back in... they just had to rock out a little longer!

In summary: This is an impressive, rocking musical achievement from a legendary rock band. You can tell it's a Journey album but in many ways it sounds like it was recorded by a bunch of hungry, young musicians who are trying to make a point. It's good on first listen but like all truly good albums, it gets better with each listen. If you are a long time Journey fan then you will certainly like it. If you are unwilling to accept Journey without a certain singer (and we're not talking about Greg Rollie) then it's your loss. These guys are firing on all cylinders on this album. And fans of melodic rock or hard rock will like this album. If you are someone who is only a passive Journey fan and only know them by their big ballads and radio hits of the seventies then you need to check this out to see what else they can do. If you love great rocking guitars or heavy drums, then you'll be impressed as well. These guys should be rewarded for having the guts and talent to create something so fresh. This album is selling for a very reasonable price so you should definitely add this one to your collection. Be sure to support this great band by buying this new album and seeing them on tour this summer with Night Ranger and Foreigner. You'll be glad you did!

Band:
Arnel Pineda: Lead vocals
Neal Schon: Guitars
Jonathan Cain: Keyboards
Ross Valory: Bass
Dean Castronovo: Drums


Track Listing:
01) City of Hope
02) Edge of the Moment
03) Chain of Love
04) Tantra
05) Anything is Possible
06) Resonate
07) She's a Mystery
08) Human Feel
09) Ritual
10) To Whom it May Concern
11) Someone
12) Venus


Hardrock Haven Rating: 9.5/10

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