Friday, May 6, 2011

JOURNEY: "Eclipse"

Rating: 9/10

Label: Frontiers 2011

Review by Alan Holloway

A band that really needs no introduction, Journey had something of a resurgence when the moppets from ‘Glee’ decided to breathe a bit of new life into some of their songs. ‘Don’t Stop Beliving’ became a bigger hit than ever before, and suddenly people wanted to know about this old band from the 80s. Previous to this, Journey had released a very good (if traditionally ballad heavy) album with new vocalist Arnel Pineda, and so the pressure is really on to come up with the goods now.

Just for a change, guitarist Neil Schon has promised a rockier album this time round, but the big surprise is that he wasn’t talking out of his flange pedal. “Eclipse” is certainly the most guitar heavy album since “Frontiers” (my favourite by the band), although it still has it’s fair share of slower numbers. Indeed, whilst listening to the opening track “City Of Hope” today, a friend asked if it was Satriani playing guitar, such was the sheer volume of widdling coming through the speakers. Even “She’s A Mystery”, the albums acoustic (and quite lovely) ballad, kicks off at the end so Schon can turn his guitar up to eleven for a minute. Add to this that the songs are allowed to develop, with ten of the twelve running for over 5 minutes (half of them over6), and you get a staggeringly mature album that feels much more complete than “Revelation”.

To give you some idea about what sort of Journey album to expect here, there are only three ballads out of twelve tracks, and even those feature rocky moments. The whole album sees more guitarwork from Schon than on any other Journey album as he stamps his mark on it at every opportunity. Arnel Pineda sounds great, slightly less of a Steve Perry tribute than he sounded before but still utilizing a brilliant range. I had a few doubts about the last album, mainly because it was never allowed to really get going, but this is the one we have been waiting for, this is the Journey album that fuses rock with melody in the way that we love so much.

If you’ve been dithering over whether to get “Eclipse”, trust me it’s a no brainer. If you have ever been a Journey fan this album will have plenty of tracks to delight you, especially if you miss the days when they didn’t overload with ballads. It’s not an attempt to copy the good old days, or to write another hit for the ‘Glee’ cast, it’s a bunch of guys making a great album for their fans. What more do you want?


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