I know it’s a dead giveaway to start a review like that but, it just had to be said. Ever since I heard some of the leaked tracks from a concert performance a few months back, even with the live recording, the songs sounded so damn good!
Journey’s ‘leader’ Neal Schon said in many interviews about this album that he wanted to make a more guitar-heavy record. Journey, despite their many strengths, are unfortunately known to the masses as the de facto ‘power ballad’ band. What started out as a Santana-esque rock band turned into a pop rock staple of early 1980s America.
On their latest album Eclipse, you still get a few ballads, the melody is very much there, but this album is stadium hard rock at its finest! Here’s my track-by-track review:
“City of Hope” – The opening track also happens to be band’s choice as a first single to promote ‘Eclipse’. It’s a good song with a hard-hitting opening, but honestly, I would have chose another track to best sell the sound Neal Schon wanted to promote Journey on this album. Good chorus and guitar riff, but it gets much better. – 3.5/5
“Edge of the Moment” – Now this would have been my choice for a first single. It sounds bad-ass! Melodic hard rock with a chorus only vocalists like Arnel could pull off. – 4.5/5
“Chain of Love” – One of the best songs on the album! A mystical opening that belongs to Jonathan Cain and Arnel Pineda, but then enters the territory of Neal Schon, Ross Valory & Deen Castronovo soon after. Love the chorus, it’s a sure-fire concert sing-along. – 5/5
“Tantra” – A power ballad with a very 80’s progressive sound. Arnel’s soaring vocals really makes this song what it is. Reminded me of Toto for some reason 🙂 – 4/5
“Anything is Possible” – You want an uplifting Journey song? You got it. – 3/5
“Resonate” – Another ‘favourite track’ on Eclipse. Mysticism sure was a sound they were going for with this album. – 5/5
“She’s a Mystery” – The most pop-rock sounding track on the album — but just like “Tantra,” it doesn’t stay that way through the end. The heavy sound kicks the door down two-thirds of the way in. – 3/5
“Human Feel” – Thumping drum beats carry the verses leading to a great bridge and chorus. – 4/5
“Ritual” – Very reminiscent of their 80s hits like “Be Good to Yourself”. – 3/5
“To Whom it May Concern” – Treading on 80s power ballad territory again with this one. – 3.5/5
“Someone” – A classic Journey song structure, similar to the many songs you have heard on Arrival and Revelation. – 3/5
“Venus” – An instrumental follow-up of “To Whom it May Concern” in which guitarist Neal Schon & Deen Castronovo rock away to close out the epic album.
My tryst with Journey began oddly enough with (just) Steve Perry — his 1994 solo album to be more specific. I was born in 1982, a time when Journey were at their career peak… but it’s not like I was listening to music at that age. As I began listening to radio (Rick Dees Weekly Top 40 to be more precise), I heard Steve Perry’s “You Better Wait” from his For the Love of Strange Medicine album. Loved that song and it that made me go: “Man, he’s got such an amazing voice!”
Then came “When You Love a Woman” from the re-grouped Journey album Trial By Fire. That is when I first heard about the band. Then came the internet and my exploration into music from various eras. I listened to Journey’s top hits and figured they ‘surely must have more’. I then bought Journey’s Greatest Hits album in 2001 and with that, I officially became a Journey fan. That album and Def Leppard’s Vault had the same impact on me — they turned me into huge fans. Def Leppard and Journey are still two of my favourite bands of all time. Two 80’s staples that get a lot of crap because they are known for their radio hits and because they were “popular”. But I have never judged a band based on their hits alone. A true testament of how good a band really is how they perform live, and both Def Leppard and Journey, even after these years are going strong in the concert circuit — and sound good doing so.
But unlike Def Leppard, Journey has seen band members come and go like there’s no tomorrow. The only member to have been with Journey since inception has been their guitarist, Neal Schon. Steve Perry, the band’s iconic lead vocalist was a hard one to replace when he left for good. Steve Augeri did a fine job for a while. After Trial By Fire, Journey released “Remember Me” from the Armageddon OST with Steve Augeri on vocals and it’s a track I still rank among my favourites from Journey. Arrival (2001), the first album with Steve Augeri was a good effort, but far from being considered a memorable record. Jeff Scott Soto, their short-lived touring vocalist was… “meh”.
But ever since Arnel Pineda’s remarkable discovery in the Philippines, and how he became the lead vocalist of one of America’s greatest selling rock bands, Journey got a new lease of life. They have never sounded better. Revelation, their first album with Arnel Pineda was a very good album — but Eclipse is even better!
Journey unfortunately never made it that big outside of the US. Not that couldn’t, they just never tried. But now, millions of international fans know the band’s music thanks to their songs being featured on The Sopranos, Family Guy, many movie soundtracks and of course, Glee. And it’s only now the band seem to be making a conscious effort to reach out to their international fans.
Yes, Journey can be labeled ‘old,’ but their music still has an audience. Many of whom (like me) who miss melodic, beautiful, hard, guitar heavy rock!
Something Eclipse delivers in full force.
Overall album rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
Disclaimer: This review was based on a album preview available on Radio.com and tracks uploaded to YouTube. I will support the band by purchasing the CD when its available in India. Eclipse hasn’t sold much as Revelations did in its first few weeks, which is sad… because I consider Eclipse a ‘classic’ compared to its predecessor. So if you loved the songs, please do buy the album.