ECLIPSE – Armageddonize

eclipse-armageddonizeOk, here comes the first WHAT THE FUCK!!??! of 2015 – and probably the biggest one as well. Eclipse are a Swedish melodic rock / AOR band that has, at least how it feels, been around forever. Actually, they started way back in 1999, when garbage like nu-metal ruled the air waves of metal and has since then released six albums, including this one and of which one, Are You Ready To Rock (2008) was re-released last year with four new tracks. And here’s me, a guy that loves the brand of rock that Eclipse plays, but haven’t given them the time of day ever. Why? Yeah, well, that beats the hell out of me as well. Also, main song writer, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Erik Mårtensson is very much involved in other projects that I really dig, such as W.E.T., Age-Sten Nilsen’s Ammunition and he had songs on killer records by Frontiers (record company) projects like First Signal (featuring Harry Hess of Harem Scarem) and Revolution Saints. Still, I never cared one bit about Eclipse. I can’t put my finger on why, but sometimes you’re just not interested, no matter what people might say, this has happened before and it will probably happen again. But what usually happens is that my curiosity takes the best of me and forces me to at least check the band in question out. And a little bit more often than I’d like to admit, I have to come crawling right here on my site with my tail between my legs, admitting that I was an idiot for not checking out the band ages ago and that the band and their record are great. If that happened with Eclipse remains to be seen, so just read on. What did happen, though was that my curiosity got a hold on me and demanded a check-out now when Eclipse has recently released their new long-player. With him on this album, Mårtensson has his band members, guitar wizard Magnus Henriksson, Robban Bäck (ex-Sabaton) on drums and Magnus Ulfstedt on bass (he used to be their drummer, but left and is now back as their bass player. He still holds the drummer spot in Swedish melodic rockers Grand Design). So how come I have gotten an interest in this band all of a sudden, then? Well, word by mouth is one thing. For a couple of years there has been a gush of superlatives from people I trust musically about this band and I was about to check them out already with  their last album, Bleed And Scream (2012), but somehow it slipped my mind. For the release of their brand new album, those superlatives reappeared and the music nerd in me just couldn’t be held back anymore. Said and done, this had to be checked out once and for all.

But before I did I had to check out the first single and video for “I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry” that was released prior to the album and also turned out to be this album’s opener. The title of the song just screamed ballad so that’s what I thought it was. It wasn’t. Instead it’s a pretty rough melodic rocker with an instant hook and a killer melody, but not ultra commercial. After that, there was no surrender, this album had to be listened to and reviewed. “Stand On Your Feet” follows and this song is a more hard rocker than AOR or melodic rock. It’s still really catchy and sticks immediately on my brain. “The Storm” is next and I think “HIT!” right on the spot. I’m thinking about another Swedish melodic rock sensation – H.E.A.T. – when I hear this and that is a compliment. This must be the next single! “Blood Enemies” breaks out of the box a bit. It’s still very AOR-ish, it’s still catchy as hell and it sticks like glue, but the AOR is on the heavier side and there are moments of metal which makes the song stand out – very cool. The fact that Erik Mårtensson also writes the bulk of W.E.T.’s songs is very evident in “Wide Open”, an awesome melodic rock track that wouldn’t have felt out-of-place on the latest W.E.T. album Rise Up (2013). The song is also a hit to be. Another eye-opener is “Live Like I’m Dying”, a ballad. Yeah, I know, ballads aren’t eye-openers at all, they’re quite common on rock albums, but when it comes to melodic rock and AOR, you kind of expect a power ballad or some very syrupy lalalala-love song, but when Eclipse do a ballad, it’s dark and heavy and very much not a power ballad – at least this one isn’t – and it’s a fantastic song. “Breakdown” is another melodic hard rock track that breaks the mold some. It’s a real groovy stomper, based on acoustic guitar with a big R&B (that’s rhythm & blues, folks, not the crap that Beyoncé and her likes like to call R&B these days). “Love Bites” rocks in the same footsteps as  “Blood Enemies”, a fast hard rocker with some big metal influences but still very melodic and “Caught Up In The Rush” is just a straight forward hard rock song that goes for the throat right away – great stuff and very much-needed. All AOR albums should include one of those! “One Life – My Life” is a real good rocker that has its feet in the 80’s and I hear a lot of late 80’s Whitesnake here. Closing track “All Died Young” has a clear metal influence as well, I hear both mid 80’s Scorpions and some cool Accept riffing here in a great mix, another cool way to mix into their melodic rock. It’s a great track that makes you want to listen to the record again after the last note is played.

So, if you wondered about what I meant with this years first and biggest WHAT THE FUCK!!??! in the beginning of this review, I guess you know by that by now. And yes, it certainly seems like this guy has some crawling back with the tail between the legs to do because this is an amazing album. Not only has Mårtensson once again proved that he his a word-class top song writer (yes, eclipse is very much his baby, he also holds the spot for production, mixing and mastering here), he and the band have also proved that all AOR and melodic rock doesn’t have to sound the same. With all the different influences in their music, this album is probably impossible to grow tired of. Fact is, even the biggest AOR hater could – with an open mind, that is – get into this album, given the chance. Melodic rock does not get much better than this, peeps and this band deserve to be huge – as in HUGE – they deserve to headline both arenas and festivals around the world. Why that hasn’t happened yet is beyond me, plus I’m hardly the right guy to ask, if you remember how this review started. Speaking of which, you have to excuse me now as I have some back catalogue checking out to do and it might take a while. Sometimes I just wanna punch myself.

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

Tracklist:

1. I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry
2. Stand On Your Feet
3. The Storm
4. Blood Enemies
5. Wide Open
6. Live Like I’m Dying
7. Breakdown
8. Love Bites
9. Caught Up In The Rush
10. One Life – My Life
11. All Died Young

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7 comments on “ECLIPSE – Armageddonize

  1. Great that you have discovered this fantastic band! Though, I found some errors in your text. The first single and video from this record is “Stand on your feet”, not “I don’t wanna say I’m sorry”. There is 11 songs on the album and he last song is called “All Died Young” On the Japanese album release there is also a fantastic acoustic version of “The Storm” Check it out!

      • Oh, I’m going back to check out everything this band has ever done. I have only heard great things about Bleed & Scream. Only wish I had done that earlier.
        And thanks a lot for stopping by, Magnus. 🙂

    • Wow, you’re right. I’ll correct that error right away. That’s what happens when you write a review while under the goddamn flu…

    • There you go, review updated, All Died Young mentioned as well.
      And yes, you’re right, the unplugged version is really, really good.

  2. Great review and pretty much the same as me…Never paid much attention to Eclipse. In fact, just finally bought Armageddonize a couple weeks ago as I was itching for something new to check out. Boy, I feel like an idiot for not being on to these guys sooner…What a fantastic album! I’ve went back and listened to their past couple albums and plenty of good stuff there as well….although, Armageddonize is heads and shoulders above those last 2 releases IMO. I’d say this album is easily in my top 10 albums of the past 15 years or so.

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