Eclipse - Monumentum

Eclipse Monumentum cover
Frontiers Music Srl
Swedish melodic rockers Eclipse are lucky enough pulling a series of consecutive rabbits out of their collective hats, with main-man Erik Mårtensson having both matured into an in demand producer as well as a bonafide rockstar/performer, from let’s say humbler beginnings and from being a rather shy and good by not great performer.
The man also seems to be able to get involved in more than a few projects at a time (sometimes running in parallel) managing to both conclude them successfully, but also do so in grand style. He’s writing and performing and sometimes even producing for Eclipse, W.E.T, Ammunition and more (ie Nordic Union – a collaboration with Pretty Maids singer Ronnie Atkins) and has managed to make almost all of the albums that he’s released/been involved with in the past decade to be anywhere from good to fucking amazing!
After the good, but a bit by the numbers “Armageddonize”, the band strikes back with “Monumentum” – a monumentally good album…
From the go, with “Vertigo”, the band shows its intentions with its flash loud hard rock with huge poppy melodies, but also electricity and gusto, being unleashed upon the unsuspecting casual listener or even the longtime fan. While the very first phrase, Erik mutters, had me going WTF (not them too) – the “spin me round” moment – is more like a playful tribute and doesn’t go into the sad depths of copying the entire song and re-titling it (ie Amaranthe – “Boomerang”). “Vertigo” is an awesome modern pulsating rocker that will leave you dazed and confused. Is it cliché? Yeah, but in the best possible way. Most of the 80s bands would give their right nuts, or even both to sound this big, this brash, this sure of themselves… like a rockier, raunchier and much better version of Europe and then some.
Sure I hear you say – a good opener – but screw that, the band does an awesome 1-2 with “Never Look Back” that if I’m not mistaken (could be featuring a bit of an Age Sten Nielsen on backing vocals). Even crazier – bigger – more sing-along than the opener, this bonafide hit, reminds me of the best songs of Wig Wam, turbocharged and “manned up” a bit, to hit right between the eyes… amazing!
I could say the band is – killing it – or “Killing Me”, a modern anthemic rocker with a hint of melancholy and longing that softens it up, just the right amount, without however taking it into ballad territory.
Erik displays his many different vocal facets on “The Downfall of Eden” that’s just another amazing track that doesn’t suffer because its mid-tempo, as it’s based on both a few beautifully conceived riffs and melodies, but also sports a chorus that many people would kill to have written.
“Hurt” had me in the mood for a ballad, but it’s not exactly one. It has a very rather ambiguous beginning in which Erik just shows off his vocal prowess, backed only by soft textures and a very subtle guitar and it only just gets louder and more epic and electric as time goes by; it almost feels like a song that was never properly completed – but not because there weren’t ideas to finish it with, but because its initial form just felt quite complete…
“Jaded” is standard Eclipse fare and has some nice riffing and the sort of semi-shouty but melodic as hell vocals of Erik, but it does feel a tiny bit “jaded” compared to the songs that precede it.
“Born to Lead” has a pretty bold title and a pretty bold and guitar heavy opening… all this time I was thinking hard what Eclipse sounds like and obviously, apart from Europe similarities, on occasion, I thought damn, almost all the songs have the whole “Top Gun” sort of hard rock meets pop quality of most of the artists that were featured there, that distinct 80s cool! “Born to Lead” doesn’t win based on its verses, that are OK, but it’s got to be its wild, almost Europe meets Whitesnake’s hairy period bravado during the chorus that gets the job done.
“For Better or For Worse” maybe recycling a riff previously used and be again cliché but they band manages to pull it off so well, that you‘ll be caught singing along, before you even get that sense of deja vu…
“No Way Back” has a cascading guitar riff-line that melts into a steady thumping rhythm and forms the foundation of another fist pumping anthemic moment of glory. Damn it!
And yeah while “Night Comes Crawling” sounds like a title Judas Priest rejected, it’s a somewhat more somber take on pretty much the same formula, but with a few changes that turn it into a moody little number that proves to be a nice twist – standing out, but not in a bad way.
Black Rain” begins with a massive riff, underlined by some interesting and dramatic keys in a pretty cinematic way... bridging in – in the most weird way and climaxing in a Steve Lee era Gotthard meets Bon Jovi and Whitesnake, but done in a week that’s reminiscent of post reunion Europe. Dramatic, Cinematic but also anthemic rock.
The Japanese receive an acoustic version of “The Downfall of Eden” that’s actually a bit more than your typical play-through, actually standing out on its own; a pretty nice rendition that loses almost nothing when compared with the original other than the electricity, but none of the passion.
Absolutely among the best things Eclipse have done – up there with “Are You Ready to Rock”. I’m already dusting off the space next to the deluxe edition of “Armageddonize” to welcome this little beaut, as soon as it arrives. If you like hard rock, bordering on melodic metal, don’t be caught without one.