Wednesday, June 22, 2011

JOURNEY -CD- ECLIPSE

Journey has released "Eclipse" their fourteenth studio album of new material and the first in three years. This twelve track collection was written by the writing team of Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain with two of the songs additionally co-written with Arnel Pineda. "Eclipse" is also the second studio album featuring Pineda on vocals.

"Eclipse" has a sound and feel that is as close to the classic Journey that you remember from the 80s since 1986's "Raised On Radio". Since then how many times have we heard the great Neal Schon talk about how they were going to go back to their roots and record a full blown rock and roll album only to be disappointed by another collection of sappy ballads and weak sounding tunes? Four or five if you count the "Red 13" EP by my count. There is no disappointment in that respect here as "Eclipse" is a rock and roll album in the spirit of the classic Journey, the 1975-1986 Journey.

Now a classic Journey album isn't without its flaws. Neal Schon, a brilliant axeman, often over plays a solo. I've always thought his brilliant playing and heavy sound was too powerful for the style of band Journey was and is. Journey I always felt teetered on the power rock/pop threshold as a band but Neal's playing was that of a metal or hard rock style. Still if you see them live the highlight is watching Neal shred his heart out in spite of what style song they are playing. In addition to that on this album you'll find "Tantra" the expected 80s style power ballad. It is totally unnecessary and sort of clutters the album. The highlight of the track is the aforementioned Neal Schon's huge solo. To be fair there are not a lot of albums that everyone loves every track anyhow.

Now for the good and there is a lot more good here than anything else. "Eclipse" has hooks, great arrangements and melodies which are all evident on the opening track, "City Of Hope" which will grab you and have you singing along after just a couple of listens. In my humble opinion I'd say that "Chain Of Love" is the best song on the album. Cain's gentle and soft playing on piano, along with Pineda's spot on vocals set up some of Schon's best riffs on the album. There is some real good music here and a strong instrumental finish with "Venus".  If you were a fan of Journey in their 80s heyday this album is going to sound familiar to you and will entertain you. This is that straight up classic AOR album we'd been promised so many times before. Some may call it a negative but I call it a positive that nine of the twelve tracks are over five minutes in length, six of them are actually over six minutes in length. Longer songs for me tend to tell more of a story and tend to be better pieces of music. To each their own I guess.

One more note on this album. Everyone already knows that Arnel Pineda sing similarly in sound and style to Steve Perry. When I listen to this album with no visual it is quite eerie how much you think you are listening to a Steve Perry era Journey record. It's almost scary how much he sounds like Steve. For Journey fans, that's a good thing.

JOURNEY - ECLIPSE COMPLETE TRACK LISTING:

  1. City of Hope
  2. Edge of the Moment
  3. Chain of Love
  4. Tantra
  5. Anything is Possible
  6. Resonate
  7. She’s a Mystery
  8. Human Feel
  9. Ritual
  10. To Whom it May Concern
  11. Someone
  12. Venus
Released May 24, 2011 on Fingers Of Joy Music.

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