Saturday, January 31, 2015

Eclipse's Armageddonize

Eclipse began in 1999 as the brainchild of Erik Martensson and Magnus Henriksson and are a strong part of the exploding Swedish hard rock scene. Martensson handles guitar and  the lead vocals, Magnus Henriksson the lead guitar, Robban Back the drums and Magnus Ulfstedt takes care of the bass.   Interestingly Ulfstedt was originally the drummer appearing on the first two album releases, 2001's The Truth And A Little More and 2004's Second To None, before they shifted their focus and "took their melodic hard rock roots in a more contemporary direction" gaining them legions of fans for 2008's Are You Ready To Rock. But it would be 2012's Bleed & Scream
release that would ultimately place Eclipse in The Meister's cross-hairs, an album that still gets fairly regular airplay through my headphones and speakers. Erik Martensson also began to make a name for himself by producing a plethora of albums for bands such as Dalton, Adrenaline Rush, Giant, Jimi Jamison and W.E.T. (with Jeff Scott Soto).  These and many others helped to earn him the accolade of one of the most sought after producers/songwriters today. Eclipse went back into the studio to record the Bleed & Scream follow-up in the latter half of 2014. The result is Armageddonize, boasting to show that "they are not anymore the brightest hope for melodic hard rock music, but a very solid and strong reality" and describe their music as "by far the best you can have today if you love rock music with energy, great songs, and want to hear a band that has the ambition to be on top of the world". I'm not sure about the music contained on Armageddonize as yet, but I can certainly say that the cover artwork is rather less than awe-inspiring. Armageddonize is due to drop in February 2015 via Italian heavyweight record label, Frontiers Records.

Eclipse's Armageddonize starts off with "I Don't Want To Say I'm Sorry", a fabulous tone setting track exhibiting a feisty little guitar riff after the slow build up. Basically, just what I would expect to follow the Bleed & Scream album. The second slot is occupied by "Stand On Your Feet", another track easily worthy and certainly fitting of the back catalog with its inspirational lyrical message. "Stand On Your Feet" is also the first single and video for Armageddonize and hit the internet airwaves ahead of the album in late January 2015. "The Storm" surfaces next following in the same vein but seems just a step lacking somewhere to me although it does grow on you with every rotation. The guitar work of Henriksson leads off "Blood Enemies" before the rhythm section explodes and Martensson's strong distinctive vocals join the charge. The high energy pace changing of this track uplifts any feelings left over from the previous in this real fist pumper. "Wide Open" blasts off again leading to a melodic chorus for a definite standout on Armageddonize. The somber beginnings of "Live Like I'm Dying" lay down the trail for this ballad, a style that has trouble winning me over to its side, so this one will be a "skipper" for me. "Breakdown" puts thing back into my preferred listening realm with this punchy, at times bluesy flavored cut. "Love Bites" comes out of the gates a full tilt pounding its way through to an infectious chorus and I have to say the strongest inclusion on the record. "Caught Up In The Rush" runs a close second in the total dogfight for the "top of the heap" accolade of the compositions contained here and may even become my number one with more listens. An all around great track. "One Life-My Life" rips along next driving home another message to the listener of "don't take shit from anyone"! The final inclusion on Armageddonize is "All Died Young", drawing things to a close on another of many high notes. I definitely find the latter half of the album to be the strongest but overall the whole effort is certainly solid and a fine entry in the melodic hard rock category. But does it best my treasured Bleed & Scream release? Sadly, I say, no it doesn't but in Armageddonize's defense how the hell could it or anything else really top Bleed & Scream?

BUY: Eclipse - Armageddonize

(Eclipse Website) (Eclipse Facebook)

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