Eclipse - Armageddonize

Eclipse Armageddonize cover
Frontiers Music Srl
Eclipse, are a Stockholm-based band that has released so far four melodic rock albums and is now on the brink of releasing their fifth.“Armageddonize” the album in question, is being released on the heel of a couple of very strong albums that the band released previously and an equally strong album, which the band’s main songwriter and singer Erik Martensson, did with the former mainman of Wig Wam, Age Stenn Nielsen, as “Ammunition”. Not to mention the ongoing involvement of Erik, on the other melodic rock, supergroup, W.E.T, which brings together members of Work of Art, Eclipse and Talisman, spearheaded by none other than JSS. So Erik has been extremely busy, but that hasn’t stopped him and lead guitarist Magnus Henriksson, from coming up with another album, containing some eleven new tracks, that follow up the band’s, well established melodic yet dynamic style, quite closely.
But how does “Armageddonize” fare, when compared, with the bands past efforts? It’s hard to tell...
For starters, sonically, things are fairly similar to their previous album “Bleed and Scream”, with maybe a bit more emphasis on being loud and sounding “big”, something that must have come as an aporia of Martensson’s many productions for various Frontiers bands, over the past couple of years, but there’s also a bit of a more defined “band” sound, with all the influences that the band previously would have, being perfectly assimilated and resulting in a more “cohesive” and personal sound. Taking the best of Scandinavian rock and mixing it with the best of British “arena” sound, while maintaining compatibility with the big US hair bands, is more or less Eclipse’s recipe, but they have managed to perfect, it to the point, where they don’t particularly sound like a certain band like in the past, but a great band, themselves.
On the other hand, while nearly every song on “Armageddonize” seems to have been meticulously worked on, with great melodies and choruses, always coming up, things don’t always feel as spontaneous as on “B&S” which could be considered as a sign of slight fatigue, but it’s not something that is immediately worry enthusing, as the songs, still rock considerably.
The album opens with the energetic rocker “I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry”, based on a swirling riff/key combo, that doesn’t sound bad at all, but If I had to consider something is that, everything seems to be too “tight”… both verses and chorus, have the same “style” of delivery exactly. While I don’t call for inconsistency, I am guessing that a little more variation in dynamics would have been beneficial.
“Stand on Your Feet” is following the same recipe, but the guitar is so much more dominant here. The verses are quite brilliant, but the chorus, however good, doesn’t seem to rhyme perfectly, this sounding a little odd, at best.
“The Storm” begins a little more timidly, only to turn into a very evocative rocker and here, thankfully, the aforementioned “dynamics” work far better, with the chorus, much more evidently receiving the punctuation it needs to shine! That’s the stuff!
“Blood Enemies” opens with an almost minute long guitar intro, giving its place to a quite playful riff, that, I’m pretty sure, Erik, must have used a variation of in “Ammunition”, he’s sort of recycling a couple of melodies here and there and that chorus, is a little reminiscent of “Take out the Enemy” from the aforementioned project. It’s a nice pastiche, however, even if it’s a little awkward.
“Wide Open” is a big dramatic rocker, with pseudo-strings/keys hits, here and there and while its verses and strong riff make you expect some “phenomenal” refrain, when the chorus arrives, it’s a little underwhelming. Not by any means bad, but a little too basic...
“Live Like I’m Dying” is a ballad and it’s got quite the performance, by Martensson, but maybe because of the very “loud” edgy, compressed style, it somewhat misses, the simplicity and effectiveness that a more stripped down version would have had.
“Breakdown” has this southern/big cock rock, slant and mind you, it ain’t too bad... it’s a little cliché, but since it’s something that the band, doesn’t “own”, their take on it, is quite interesting. Prepare to be plastered with a pastiche of every “cliché” hard rock expression, in the form of some long, nonsensical verses... hehe…
“Love Bites” ain’t a Def Leppard cover, but a rather hard hitting, number, that doesn’t really impress until its chorus hits.
“Caught up in the Rush” is fairly decent and could have been a little better, as the band seems to be getting a bit more relaxed and the dynamic range seems to expand again, but the chorus, ain’t the best thing the band has come up with in their enduring career.
“One Life - My Life” is quite different, darker and more modern with a quite heavier riff, than the ones the band utilities for most of the songs on the album. Quite memorable tune, actually.
“All Died Young” which is the last song of the album is another hard hitting number, that’s a little, that if it wasn’t for the melodic vocals, would have been almost confused for heavy metal. Very ballsy and epic melodic rock, but the chorus “melody” seems suspiciously familiar, making you feel like you’ve “been here before”… strange deja-vu.
The Japanese version of the album comes with a beautiful acoustic version of “The Storm”.
Overall, a pretty strong album, that fans of the band will probably like and take too favorably, yet it’s not as good as their previous two efforts. It could be the band’s new found “aggression” that feels a little hard to combine, with the more melodic nature of the core of the sound, or being a little too spent, from a writing standpoint, after having produced and contributed to so many albums, as EM has. It’s a great album however to keep the band’s momentum and career going, without being an absolute highlight.