Label: Frontiers 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Erik Mårtensson is probably the busiest man in hard rock these days. He was the main writer on my favourite album of last year, Toby Hitchcock's "Mercury Down" and his songs have found their way to several other Frontiers releases lately. This year he's been working on the new W.E.T. and Jimi Jamison albums, not to mention the two bands he fronts: The Friday Nights and the band in the spotlight now - Eclipse. He's really striking while the iron is hot, but as long as he keeps coming up with songs as good as these are, I'll say "keep on striking!"
Compared to the more AOR-friendly "Mercury Down", "Bleed & Scream" is a harder-edged album, yet still highly melodic and catchy. We're talking about turbo-charged hard rock, and possibly the best Eclipse album so far.
What I first noticed about this album was the relentless energy. Most of the songs are fast-paced, with more guitars than you could ask for. Mårtensson's vocal performance is outstanding and the whole band seems to be on fire. The full-on approach is at times even a little overbearing.
The album's stand-out tracks include the title track, which is also the first single and video. Plenty of impressive guitar work, interesting vocal melodies and highly melodic chorus - what more could one ask? The fast-paced "Ain't Dead Yet" is another highlight with its' cool chorus that kind of sneaks up on you. It's also one of the more "metallic" tracks of the album, slightly Edguy'ish. "S.O.S." is one of the AOR-styled songs and one that offers a bit of a breather among the more frantic songs.
Whitesnake's "1987" is probably a big influence on the guys, as there are a few "flashback" moments when listening to these songs. Actually, the song "Battlelines" is a total tribute to the year 1987, with Whitesnake-like verses and a chorus that could've been on Gary Moore's '87 release "Wild Frontier".
There aren't any particulary weak songs on the album, but maybe a few that I haven't warmed up to. The ballad "A Bitter Taste" is one of them, the full-throttle metal of "Take Back The Fear" another. But these are frankly quite minor details, and this album is only maybe one killer song short of the full set of "R's".