Eclipse – Wired (Album Review)

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What hath ABBA wrought?

The legendary Swedish group – gone for nearly 40 years before reuniting in 2021 – was rejected by most rockers back in the ‘70s.  Too soft.  Too clean.  Too…nice.

And yet many modern-day bands from Sweden have taken some cues from the foursome, especially when it comes to melody and hooks. And it cuts across all genres, from metal to hard rock to prog-rock and beyond.  THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA. OPETH.  FLOWER KINGS. ECLIPSE.

Maybe it’s something in the water.  In any case, we’re focusing on the latter band’s newest release, “Wired.” Eclipse’s last studio album, “Paradigm, eclipsed the band’s previous successes and vaulted them up to greater international attention and acclaim (especially the single, “Viva La Victoria”). Their brand of music, which harkens back to arena rock or the hair bands of the ‘80s, features a clarion-call singer, a blazing guitarist, and a rhythm section that just won’t quit.

And did I mention hooks and melody?

First, let’s get to some basics.  ECLIPSE – celebrating its 20th year in 2021 – is led by Erik Martensson. He writes the music. He does the lead singing. He’s the front-man. And in concert, he’ll also strap on a guitar to add depth. This baby-faced killer has the formula down pat. And it is a formula, with verses leading into choruses and solo breaks (usually for guitarist Magnus Henriksson to show his impressive wares), then closing out with a rousing return to the initial sounds.

And it works. Partly because these guys toss in some surprises. Different chord changes. A Philip Crusner drum break (in the lead track “Roses on Your Grave”). A musical reference to other songs (“Twilight” includes a section from the hymn “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee”). Guitar touches that remind one of other bands (“Run for Cover” sounds a bit like BIG COUNTRY, while “Twilight” has a twin guitar intro a la WISHBONE ASH). And did I mention hooks? A great variety of hooks.

ECLIPSE’s sound is identifiable but not really repetitive. And while certain songs harken back to their earlier efforts—”Roses On Your Grave” has touches of “Viva La Victoria”—the new ones stand on their own.

And they rock. The band doesn’t get to a power ballad until the fifth cut on the CD, “Carved in Stone.” And even that one turns up the power with about a minute left to go. The ECLIPSE energy is always high; it doesn’t lag, even on somewhat slower pieces.

“Wired” Album Artwork

The lyrics are of a piece with that. These are sing-along, pump your fist in the air words that strike deep in the soul. They are not deeply philosophical or inscrutable, but that’s not ECLIPSE anyway. They want audience participation and involvement, and they encourage that with music and lyrics that are visceral and pretty universal. Martensson sings, “We live, we die like it’s Saturday night” on the single “Saturday Night (Hallelujah)” and you just can’t help singing along. And that’s a good thing.

Did I mention the hooks?

This is a very good, tight band (if you have questions, some of their live stuff is on YouTube and it is very impressive). I haven’t mentioned bassist Victor Crusner – drummer Philip’s brother – but he does an excellent job on the bottom end. And having a brother tandem on the rhythm section makes sense, come to think of it.

If I have a quibble (I love that word), it’s that Martensson has a bit of difficulty with quieter sections (not that there are very many). His voice wants to explode, to jump into the upper registers and belt the lyrics out. He’s not as emotive when things are brought down. But that’s a quibble and it doesn’t really detract from the enjoyment of “Wired.”

For years, I called ABBA one of my guilty pleasures (and didn’t let on that I owned their greatest hits album). I was sucked in by hooks. Well, I’m not feeling guilty about liking ECLIPSE. I can air guitar power chords all I want. I can strain to hit the high notes (mostly unsuccessfully). I can shout out lyrics of freedom and personal power and not feel ashamed.

ECLIPSE comes from a long line of melodic, Swedish groups. And the boys can be proud, because they fly the flag well on “Wired.” And with lots of hooks.

Released By: Frontiers Music SRL
Released On: October 8th, 2021
Genre: Melodic  Rock

Musicians:

  • Erik Mårtensson / Vocals
  • Magnus Henriksson / Guitars
  • Philip Crusner / Drums
  • Victor Crusner / Bass

“Wired” track listing:

CD

  1. Roses On Your Grave
  2. Dying Breed
  3. Saturday Night (Hallelujah)
  4. Run For Cover
  5. Carved In Stone
  6. Twilight
  7. Poison Inside My Heart
  8. Bite The Bullet
  9. We Didn’t Come To Lose
  10. Things We Love
  11. Dead Inside (CD and Digital Exclusive Bonus Track)

LP

  1. Saturday Night (Hallelujah)
  2. Twilight
  3. Ain’t No Fun (Vinyl Exclusive Bonus Track)
  4. Dying Breed
  5. Carved In Stone
  6. Things We Love
  7. Roses On Your Grave
  8. Run For Cover
  9. Poison Inside My Heart
  10. We Didn’t Come To Lose
  11. Bite The Bullet

8.8 Excellent

The Swedish songmeisters follow up their tours deforce “Viva La VicTOURia (Live)” and “Paradigm” with yet another full-throated, roaring effort that will bring you to your feet and pump your fist in the air

  • Songwriting 9.2
  • Musicianship 9.2
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8.5
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