Produced by: Kevin Shirley
For the Genre: ***** (5/5)
Compared to the Era: ***** (5/5)
Summary: With a fresh, accessible sound, ECLIPSE is an epic sonic journey.
By now, everyone should know that Journey can bring the goods. A veteran group with its original founding band leader, primary guitarist and composer Neal Schon still at the helm, writing and recording in San Francisco since before the poser days of the late 80s MTV scene on Sunset Boulevard, he’s still doing it the right way in the California bay area. Masterfully recorded with the great Kevin Shirley in Berkeley, California and in Nashville—the Live Session Recording Capital of the World—this disc is like owning a museum masterpiece in your own home. Disregard Frontiers’ el cheapo “Digipak” cardboard packaging and awkward slip-disc center packaging; between the outstanding artwork and delightful photography, this record is still worth purchasing physically. This isn’t hyperbole; I’m purchasing this one on Vinyl! Why not? There is NO filler on this album!
Ordinarily, an album—especially by our favorite classic rock artists—kick off the set with a great lead off track, like Night Ranger’s “Somewhere in California,” only for each subsequent song more anemic than the last before eventually petering out; perhaps there is a nice hard hitting track somewhere near the end, but by then, you’re wishing you just streamed it over Spotify instead. Not Eclipse. Right after “City of Hope”—which is a freaking epic song with its huge vocal sound throughout, heavy guitar work and solid percussion work—come even more hook-healthy, groove-centric songs like “Chain of Love” or the intensely urgent “Edge of the Moment.” Then, there has never been a more Journey-sounding songs than the hard hitting “Ritual,” or “Tantra,” a dramatic, sweeping orchestral-backed piano ballad intro to the majestic rock supporting Arnel Pineda, who—in my opinion—should have been the end of the you- know-who should re-unite with the band “debate.” It’s over. It’s dead. It’s done. Arnel Pineda is the voice of Journey, and that is one of the songs that cements this reality into existence permanently.
I call Eclipse an epic sonic journey for a reason; a song like “She’s A Mystery” makes this record anything but a nostalgic throwback release from a classic rock band; that track could have been released by any new, great band. It’s modern, but not annoyingly so. Schon’s layers and layers of acoustic and electric guitar work forms a handcrafted tapestry of sound fit for a long drive along the coast of California. This along with “Venus,” the great reprise of the end of “To Whom It May Concern,” a wonderful gift to the listener, and the avid fan of Album Oriented Rock.