Journey - 2011 Eclipse

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ARTIST: Journey
ALBUM: Eclipse
LABEL: Frontiers
SERIAL: FRCD 517
YEAR: 2011

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: Neal Schon - guitars, backing vocals * Jonahan Cain - keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals * Ross Valory - bass, backing vocals * Deen Castronovo - drums, percussion, backing vocals * Arnel Pineda - lead vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 City Of Hope * 02 Edge Of The Moment * 03 Chain Of Love * 04 Tantra * 05 Anything Is Possible * 06 Resonate * 07 She's A Mystery * 08 Human Feel * 09 Ritual * 10 To Whom It May Concern * 11 Someone * 12 Venus

RATING: image

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

This is the band that is considered by many to be the unifying force of the AOR movement. Not that the movement is anything to skite about these days, as its popularity is nothing compared to the heydays of the late 70's and early 80's.

And with the music industry in turmoil and media indifference to any artist trying to make a buck in our favourite sub-genre of rock, you would think that Journey and their ilk would be spending their days parked up in a recliner taking it easy drinking cups of tea and watching reruns of The Waltons.

Not so, and with the triumvirate of Journey, Styx and Night Ranger out on the road together during mid 2011, anyone would be forgiven for thinking that we are currently in the midst of the glory days of AOR. Sadly this is not the case.

It's not helped by Journey's latest album 'Eclipse' being unsure of its place in the overall scheme of things. Worldwide, people just can't quite make up their mind what this album is all about. Some say great, some say rubbish.

The indifference unfortunately means the album will never be compared favourably to their previous classic albums, and for those that try to do so, they are seriously deluded.

Like many, I have been bought up on this band since before Steve Perry joined. We've all seen the ups and downs throughout the years. On some occasions, I have had to spend a lot of time with an album to get into it. Admittedly, this was never the case with any of the Perry era albums. All were immediate.

I had to seriously question the merits of 'Arrival', 'Generations' (though I ended up really liking that one) as well as 'Revelation'. But 'Eclipse' I'm afraid takes the cake.

Schon and Cain must have really wanted to tip the apple cart on its head with this album, and they succeeded in doing so, but for the want of 'rocking out', they have sacrificed a bit in the process.

The Songs

For me, the material never reaches the dizzy heights of yesteryear, and has a hard time holding my attention. Out of the twelve tracks, none of them earn repeat-play status.

I have played the album back to back trying to find some consolation throughout but it never came. Previous albums came dressed with curtains of shade and light.

'Eclipse' is well named considered the music is doused in shadow most of the time, with the occasional ray of light trying to pierce through. When it does, the band sound on-song, as on brighter efforts such as the acoustic and wistful 'She's A Mystery', the ballad 'To Whom It May Concern' and 'Someone', a lighter sounding but still rockin' tune reminiscent of their legacy.

The rest quite frankly is a hard-sell.

The major issue for me is that the songs are too long. Ten of the tracks are well over 5 minutes, the attention span in this day and age doesn't hold on for that long.

The days of the compact radio format sugar-bullet are long gone it would seem.

I have no idea what 'Tantra' was all about, ponderous mostly with an awful chorus, and at 6 min 43 secs, I would've thought that 'Human Feel' could've offered more in the way of interest. It didn't. I want my approx 7 minutes back.

'Resonate' was ok, but it took all of a minute to warm up, but the music and lyrics sounded/looked as if it were wrapped in some dark emotion laden blanket.

Same too 'Edge Of The Moment' which was probably composed on a wet and rainy day such is the colour and mood.

'Anything Is Possible' is much better, so too 'Ritual' which romps along at a brisk pace and is Journey in one of their better phases.

In Summary

Despite a handful of tunes achieving a pass mark, for the first time, I can say unequivocally that this is perhaps the most disappointing Journey album I've listened to.

With songs that don't hold the attention span, that are too long in their playing time, and with more shadow cast over the music than light, I can see many long time fans pondering the question, 'what the heck?'

Despite all the current hoopla and PR, don't believe it for a minute. Look, let me throw one last sentence on 'Eclipse'.

It's not a bad album, but it's far from exceptional too. In the end it was a huge struggle to make anything of it. As Eric and I have said on many of our album reviews, your mileage on this one may vary.

For me, I'm out of gas already. Looking ahead, I think it's safe to say that 'Infinity' and 'Escape' will still rule in my Journey playlists for years to come.


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