Journey – Eclipse (2011, Nomota LLC)
1. “City of Hope” … 6:02
2. “Edge of the Moment” … 5:27
3. “Chain of Love” … 6:10
4. “Tantra” … 6:27
5. “Anything Is Possible” … 5:21
6. “Resonate” … 5:11
7. “She’s A Mystery” … 6:41
8. “Human Feel” … 6:44
9. “Ritual” … 4:57
10. “To Whom It May Concern” … 5:15
11. “Someone” … 4:35
12. “Venus” … 3:34
Arnel Pineda – Lead Vocals
Neal Schon – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Ross Valory – Bass, Backing Vocals
Deen Castronovo – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Jonathan Cain –Keyboards, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Producer: Kevin Shirley with Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain
(And now for a really long review…)
After the incredible success of Revelation as a Wal-Mart exclusive in the United States, it was a no-brainer for Journey to ink a new deal with the world’s largest retailer for Eclipse (in other markets the album was released on the Frontiers Records label), their 15th studio album. Despite not having two extra discs to help boost sales like Revelation did, Eclipse still debuted at a very respectable #13 on the Billboard charts with 21,000 copies sold.
With that said, THIS is a Journey I could really grow to love! Obviously the band has delivered many classic radio staples over the years and the “hits” I have never had a problem with but for the longest time I could not fall in love with any of the band’s albums no matter who the singer was (and let’s be honest, no matter your preference, the vocalists have always delivered even when songwriting maybe did not). Sure, Journey’s albums have been “good” or even “very good” to my ears but there’s always been a certain wimp factor to AOR/melodic rock. A band like Journey has always been especially disappointing to me because Neal Schon has always seemed so content to rein in his guitar playing so that Jonathon Cain can deliver another keyboard-drenched ballad. Schon could’ve been a true guitar hero.
Well, I don’t know how it happened. I guess after the success of Revelation, the band finally decided to take somewhat of a chance because I’m happy to say the guitars are all over this album and Schon is standing center stage on this release. The keyboards have taken a backseat (as much of a backseat that they’re ever going to take in this band). Neal is dropping solos and inspired riffs all throughout the album but don’t get it twisted — this is not a “guitar” album as I have read other reviews state. Yes, Journey is rocking harder than they have in YEARS but it’s still Journey and you’re still gonna get some sticky sweet ‘n’ pleasant AOR sap in your ears after listening to this one.
It’s really the first half of the album that is most impressive. “City of Hope” is a good selection to open the album. It is a larger than life uplifting melodic rock song. “Edge of the Moment” is all Schon and is one of the album’s best songs. “Chain of Love” starts off with the keyboards but then kicks into a nice heavy guitar riff that reminds me of Led Zeppelin. “Tantra” is the album’s only true ballad and quite frankly, it’s a powerful and majestic one at that, almost sounds like something I’d expect to hear from Trans-Siberian Orchestra. “Anything Is Possible” is next and it’s acceptable but nothing essential, just the standard positive AOR message.
Halfway through the album is Eclipse‘s crown jewel: “Resonate”. Just a fantastic piece of work, very catchy, the chorus will stay in your head for days and it’s on par with the band’s classic material. I had see a live performance of this song on YouTube month’s before the album’s release. I loved the song then and I still love it now. Next up is “She’s A Mystery” which is a bit laid back sounding for Journey I think and does’t really go anywhere until closer to the end where it turns into a hard rocking number with Schon going mad on guitar. Too bad the first five minutes or so of the song weren’t like this.
Oh well, we’re saved by “Human Feel” which has a really cool tribal drum beat to it and more good riffs. My second favorite song off the album. Just a really fun song, I could see this going over really well live. “Ritual” is a high energy number but yet still a bit bland. Along with “To Whom It May Concern” you can pretty much count it as filler. “Someone” is a step in the right direction, pure upbeat AOR but still good. The album closes on a high note with the instrumental “Venus”. Yet another showcase for Neal Schon.
After all this time of talking about Schon firing up the guitars for this album, I should also point out that on his second Journey album, Arnel is starting to come into his own. On Revelation, he seemed like he was trying to sound like Steve Perry. He wasn’t doing a bad job of it but it’s nice to hear him now using his “real” singing voice in the band.
This is a must buy for AOR fans and anyone with even the slightest interest in melodic rock should definitely give this album a listen. The old masters are back and sounding as vital as ever and re-energized. Hopefully Journey will continue down this more hard rockin’ road… or at the very least I hope Neal gets inspired to give us a blistering solo album some day.
I was expecting a few good tracks and for this album to be a decent casual listen but it’s shaping up to be one of 2011’s best releases.
Highlights: “City of Hope”, “Edge of the Moment”, “Chain of Love”, “Tantra”, “Resonate”, “Human Feel”, “Venus”