Erik Mårtensson is a machine. The guy’s ability to come up with new killer songs seems to be endless. If he’s not active with his main-band Eclipse, there are albums out with other projects like Nordic Union, W.E.T., Ammunition or providing some Frontiers Records’ project with music – and the quality is always remarkably high. Remarkably because who can put out record after record after record without failing at least some? I can’t honestly remember when I last heard an album with songs that comes from Mårtensson’s pen that contained at least a few songs that I think sucked. I admit that I’m not overly impressed by Eclipse’s first three albums and the debut W.E.T. record to me came across as a lukewarm Journey rip-off – albeit not bad per se – but everything he has released since 2012 – we’re talking nine albums – has been nothing short of brilliant.
I’m thinking, some day his well of music must run dry, some day that album that just don’t cut it must be released. I don’t mean to sound negative or cynic, it’s just the logics of things like this – all musicians and song writers fail at some point. When Eclipse now is a bout to release their seventh album, long time bass player Magnus Ulfstedt (he was also the band’s drummer between 2000-2006) has left vocalist Mårtensson, guitarist Magnus Henriksson and drummer Philip Crusner and is replaced by one Victor Crusner. He plays on the album, though. Sad, but the thing is, as long as Erik Mårtensson is around, there will be great songs coming from this band. At least, I hope so. So let’s see if the new record continues the ever flowing stream of superb songs or if it is the one where the downfall starts. Somehow, I admit that I’m not overly worried about that…
One of the first things I read about opening track and leading single “Viva La Victoria” was that it sounded like Eclipse goes Sabaton, something that made me worried – and then some. I’m not a Sabaton-fan. Fact is, I really can’t stand that band. Could the downfall start already with the first single? Well, I’m not sure where the Sabaton connection comes from because I certainly can’t hear it. Or maybe I just haven’t listened to Sabaton enough. Ok, so there are slight Power Metal tendencies here and there, but for the most, it’s a heavier version of Eclipse’s traditional sound, complete with a mandolin opening and some classic, 80’s Metal riffing. It’s punchy, tough and upbeat with hooky melodies all over the place and a bang-on-target refrain with enough catchiness to make this a major hit. My worries took a hike and my expectations rose once more.
“Mary Leigh” is a driving rocker and a murderous tune – lyrically, that is – that holds some crunchy Hard Rock riffing on a rhythmic and steady beat. The verses hold back some while when the refrain breaks loose it takes a more upbeat pace with an amazing hook, catchy as hell. The song brings Nordic Union to mind and I can easily hear Ronnie Atkins singing this. Brilliant number. Eclipse stays on the bloody topics, at least as far as this title goes, with “Blood Wants Blood”, an upbeat and beefy rocker with verses on the more laid-back side but it heavies up when the intense and in-your-face refrain comes around. The tune brings on a somewhat Celtic vibe and comes across as the cousin of “Downfall Of Eden” from Monumentum. The chorus is massive – this is a striking Melodic Rock stomper that hits exactly where it should – awesome!
Things slow down some with “Shelter Me”, a ballad-like number with a darker outlook. The piano and the acoustic guitars that lurks in the background makes for a sonic dynamic that brings up and edge and the rougher guitars in the medium tempo refrain heavies things up some which takes the song into power ballad territory. The refrain is huge, catchy as can be with a super-glue attachment to the brain. A brilliant track – it must be a single at some point. On a rhythmic groove, sporting acoustic guitars and drums, “United” starts off but when the rest of the band comes in, it roughs up some sonically. Again, the verses are a bit more mellow albeit with a stompy beat but the refrain is strikingly catchy and the folky, Celtic styled melodies changes the dynamics – for the better. The “all for one, one for all” message gives the tune a positive outlook. Very good.
On a ballsy and rowdy note, “Delirious” does its best to run us over with a crunchy and rowdy sound. It sure is Melodic Rock we’re talking about here but with a Metal update – riff-happy, thunderous drumming and pumping bass. As always, the chorus is what brings the song home in the end – and on this track, the guys’ makes the home-run. Fan-bloody-tastic. “When The Winter Ends” shakes thing loose on a big, fat rhythm and monstrous riffs. It comes in mid-tempo and the verses are a bit softer yet still upbeat but the refrain’s immediate catchiness goes right for the throat. It lies on the border to power-balladry but with a good, meaty punch. The heaviest track on the album is “38 Or 44”. This is where Eclipse goes full-on Metal – a heavy rhythm foundation with razor-sharp guitars, rowdy riffing and fiercely punchy. It’s full of adrenaline but the big, hooky melodies are always around. Intense and edgy but also hot-damned catchy. A real killer!
The Metal influences continues in a rough way with “Never Gonna Be Like You”. It’s an in-your-face and straightforward rocker that holds a meaty rhythm and a darker twist. The piss-n-vinegar outlook makes the tune boil while the striking and immediate melodies make the song stick and once again, another deluxe-catchy refrain treat from Mårtensson’s melodic mind. Great. Latest single “The Masquerade” is one of the album’s finest moments. It’s slower in pace, heavy and punchy on a stompy ground. It’s slightly doomy with a progressive tinted chord progression where the fat riffs shine. Slightly held back in the verses the tune reaches climax in the spot-on refrain, catchy as damn without being radio-flirtatious. More Celtic twists – reminiscent of Thin Lizzy – comes in on the closing track “Take Me Home”. It’s a bouncy, heavy and rhythmic track with big hook-lines, contagious melodies and another massive refrain that sticks like glue. A brilliant closer that makes me want to spin the record over and over again.
Yes, Eclipse have done it again. For the third time in a row, Eclipse have released a magnificent record where no song is worse than good – and here I can hardly even find a song that’s only good. Even though I hold Monumentum as my fave Eclipse record, this one’s breathing down its neck. Eclipse used to be a “meh” band for me, a shrug of the shoulder but since Armageddonize (2015), I can title myself a big fan of this band – and this album proves that they’re not even close to go downhill. While they sure work in the Melodic Rock field, they have no problem bringing out their love of Heavy Metal and Hard Rock into their music which work wonders for the dynamics and the variation. Sure, Erik Mårtensson has a very personal style when writing melodies which shines through in everything he does but for some reason, he’s never on repeat. It’s time for the world to wake up and embrace Eclipse now, they are well worth a big break now. Get this!
More Eclipse reviews:
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