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Journey – Eclipse: Review

On May 24, the worldwide popular Journey released their latest album. It is the second album to feature vocalist Arnel Pineda and is entitled Eclipse. The band had a huge dip in their career in the 90’s and early 00’s, and without their former vocal talent Steve Perry, I honestly did not expect too much out of this release. However, I was most definitely wrong in doing so.

The Music (rating: A-)

  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

Eclipse is fairly reminiscent of the classic Journey sound. Even the sophomore vocalist, Arnel Pineda, sounds similar to his predecessor, Steve Perry. This record is a great deal of rock (more specifically adult-oriented rock – AOR) with the odd ballad here and there. There are hard riffs (like the outro of “City of Hope”) and softer ones (such as in “To Whom it May Concern”). Furthermore, there is a mixture of uplifting songs and ones that are less so; the first two tracks demonstrate this juxtaposition nicely. For a rock album, it is respectably diverse. But without doubt, it is a rock album.

Starting with the obvious, Pineda is stellar on Eclipse. His phrasing is natural and highly complementary to the band’s overall sound. The vocals fit in every scenario the band ventures into, whether it is hard rockers or soft singers. And in terms of technical proficiency, there are very few who match the vocal prowess of this man. No doubt, his talent rivals that of Perry’s. However, that is as far as I’m willing to take that comparison.

Credit should be given where credit is due; do not neglect to credit the band with a fine performance. There are great riffs given in many different contexts. Some are similar to one another, but they are generally of high quality. And no doubt, the keyboards add a whole new dimension to the music. Both the piano parts and the strings are wonderfully worked into the music. “Tantra,” in particular, delivers a fine duet between the piano and vocals. The strings are often subtle but of impeccable placement, such as in the chorus of “City of Hope”. The bass is of fine foundation as well. It is rarely overly noticeable, but it has fluent phrasing and connects the music very well. For the most part, the drums fulfill a similar role to that of bass, which is mainly one of support. The fills and rhythms are all context-appropriate, a statement which itself is an understatement of significance. There is the odd standout drum rhythm, such as in “Human Feel,” which sounds simply great.

There are, unfortunately, some minor issues with Eclipse. Most notably, it is much too long for its own good. It is a tad repetitive, as can be seen by the similarity between the intros of the first two tracks. This is somewhat dismissible due to the overall quality of the album, but it can at times come back with bite. Also, some sections do not meet their full potential. More specifically, I refer to “To Whom it May Concern” and its subsequent reprise, “Venus”. Both are, in a sense, attempts at incorporating progressive elements into the music. But with the former, it does not build to anything as it very well could have. And it is as though they realized this and consequently added “Venus” at the end of the record to fulfill this unreached potential. Its revival is rather out-of-place and awkwardly random, and really should be a part of its sister song. Though I like the melody, I personally feel that there are definitively better choices than what was done with the two pieces.

Overall, I was very surprised and impressed with Eclipse. I did not anticipate anything much greater than average, but Journey certainly delivered. It is a great mixture of instant catchiness and substance, and the instrumental performance is more than commendable. There is a fair amount of variety, but there is also a lingering shadow of repetition. The very miniscule issues are most certainly overwhelmed by the positives. Eclipse is a sign of renewed life with the band and definitely should not be passed up – especially not by Journey fans.

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