Approaching a milestone twentieth anniversary as a band, Eclipse is commemorating the occasion with the release of a very solid new album, entitled “Paradigm.” The Swedish arena melodic rockers enjoy a growing following, due largely to the architecture of mastermind Erik Mårtensson on guitars and lead vocals. Additionally, founding member Magnus Henriksson returns to imbue the album with blistering guitar leads. The rhythm section is rounded out in the capable hands of bassist Magnus Ulfstedt (who has now exited the band, but played on the album) and drummer Philip Crusner.
The eleven-track LP spends exactly six seconds toying with a folk mandolin section (or bazouki?) before launching into 100% fist-in-the-air arena singalong anthem mode, with the opener and music video “Viva La Victoria.” The lyrics and the video seem to underscore a theme of open rebellion, and who doesn’t love a little Anarchy with a capital “A.” The song is a no-frills anthem rocker, with little in the way of pyrotechnics, but plenty of Dioriffic “Stand Up And Shout” heart and soul.
The second offering, “Mary Leigh,” another track in a similar vein to its predecessor, seems to focus on the titular woman deciding penetration is fair turnabout, although unfortunately for our song’s narrator, said penetration is likely a 9mm hollow point in the back. Whether this particular lead injection is literal or metaphoric, we do not know, but what we know is that the song has a driving beat and a great riff, along with the fact that Mary Leigh’s name apparently also makes for a catchy chorus. “Blood Wants Blood” is a song with its own wants; namely, it demands a headbanging Euro festival crowd jumping and splashing beer. Despite a very straightforward shout-rock format, the song allows Magnus to stretch his fingers across the fingerboard and serve up a tasty solo before the song is done making its rather agreeable demands.
The album trades turns down the arena beer-splashing action and turns up the raised Zippo action with the fourth track, “Shelter Me,” an introspective contemporary ballad with soaring vocals set over top of medium tempo and jangly steel string acoustic chords, although during the choruses the guitars come back with some big snarls. As one would expect with most songs of this character, there are no flashy bits, but it remains a very listenable offering. “United” puts the band back into the anthemic saddle, doing what Doro was trying in her last album, except Eclipse actually pulls it off magistrally. This particular song centers around an “All for One, One for All,” theme a la Alexandre Dumas, which is a solid theme in any lively rock/metal setting. If one wishes to get metalheads off their asses and on their feet, just sing about standing your ground and/or standing together, and it’s a dependable currency.
When the album was beginning to feel a tad repetitive and predictable, the song “Delirious” is like if Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” was written by Primal Fear. It is a great fusion of pop-sensible elements with thrashy rhythm chops, merciless ride cymbal abuse, and even a tasty quasi-Malmsteen solo in the middle. Gentlemen, if you are reading this, we humbly ask for more of this, like little Oliver with empty bowl in hand.
Eclipse is trying to match Lynyrd Skynyrd for mentions of bullets in a single album. The track “38 or 44” mentions guns throughout the song, along with the number 22, so we can only guess there is some ballistic question about 22, 38 and 44? Whatever question is being posed, the answer is probably .45 ACP. Regardless of the lyrical quandary buried in this song, what we do know is this: it rocks, at least as much as “Delirious.” From the pounding floor toms to the alternating note riffs on the guitar, and the whole half-step-down feeling to the song’s key, it possesses a basic meanness which is a refreshing palate cleanser in an otherwise sometimes saccharine album. We at Sonic Perspectives are already naturally sweet, and preservative free, unless alcohol counts.
The album’s ace in the proverbial hole would likely be found within the album’s quasi-epic “The Masquerade.” The song has a certain grandiosity one might equate with something like Savatage’s “Gutter Ballet,” although not quite to that level, because, let’s face it, music history will only ever have the Oliva brothers once. That being said, the big angry chords have a similar power to DeGarmo’s isolated guitar riffs in “Suite Sister Mary.” We can only hope Eclipse takes these comparisons as a compliment, because that’s what they sure as hell are. Serving as the second song to receive music video treatment (and featuring the same flags waved in the “Viva La Victoria” video), the song makes a bold attempt to be both a fun arena rocker and a substantive metal epic in a single stroke. That it has accomplished the latter is not in question; as far as the former, only time and tours will tell.
If “The Masquerade” is the climax of this particular adventure, the final track “Take Me Home,” is both epilogue and farewell. Short and sweet, and just right. Inasmuch as it is possible to choose a correct flavor to bookend and album like this, the final track does it succinctly and tastefully, with a pleasing chorus, and some enjoyable layered guitar leads.
Frontman Erik Mårtensson once said, “When I go and see a band, I just want to hear songs that make me wanna put my fist in the air and scream along, and I want everyone around me to do the same.” This seems to be a burgeoning market in the worldwide metal scene, particularly in Europe and Scandinavia. To be sure, acts from Sabaton to Doro to Nightwish want to play everything from Wacken Open Air to the Nürburgring Rock am Ring and get tens of thousands of energized fists pumping in the air. Perhaps not in a thrash metal fury, but in a more positive power metal vibe that makes people want to bond with fellow metalheads and hopefully buy some merch. Eclipse seems to be well on the way to tapping into this powerful force. This new “Paradigm” may not have the same pyrotechnics or fire in the belly we recall from “Armageddonize.” However, it does seem to carry forward most of the momentum from, well, “Momentum,” delivering a tasty quantity and variety of rockers.
Check out the videos for “Viva La Victoria” and “Masquerade” below and if you like what you hear, you will enjoy the rest of the album for sure. It hits the streets tomorrow October 11th, and you can preorder from the band’s website found here.
Released By: Frontiers Records SRL
Release Date: October 11th, 2019
Genre: Melodic Hard Rock
- Erik Mårtensson / Vocals, guitars
- Magnus Henriksson / Guitars
- Philip Crusner / Drums
- Magnus Ulfstedt / Bass
1. Viva La Victoria
2. Mary Leigh
3. Blood Wants Blood
4. Shelter Me
7. When The Winter Ends
8. .38 Or .44
9. Never Gonna Be Like You
10. The Masquerade
11. Take Me Home
Eclipse delivers a solid body of work yet again. If you already listen to Eclipse, this album is more of what you already love. If you are into melodic borderline-AOR hard rock and metal, this album is so accessible and full of memorable hooks that it’s hard to go wrong. At this point, Eclipse is one of those bands where everything they do is good; it is simply a matter of comparing their new album to previous work to determine just how good. Check out the new videos and let us know what you think.