With Eclipse, Journey has become, once more, a whole band. It's not Journey with another new guy to replace the legendary other guy. Sure, Arnel Pineda had to be capable of sealing the 'Journey' sound which defined their music and success in the late Seventies through the grand Eighties. But here, on Eclipse, there's a certain cohesion that was lacking with Steve Augeri or the mismatch with Jeff Scott Soto. Yet, as with Revelation, this Journey is both the familiar past and evolving present.
A first cursory listen might suggest that Eclipse is heavier than previous material, certainly even more grand and epic: five tracks are longer than six minutes, four longer than five minutes; that's 9 out of 12. Certainly the opening tracks City of Hope and Edge of the Moment loom large at the start. But nobody ever accused Journey of being subtle. This is solid melodic rock. Even though the extra length may not work on Chain of Love, on the aforementioned first two tracks, the first ballad (of sorts) Tantra, and inspirational Anything Possible, Journey delivers as few bands can. Or maybe they need the extra length to work in a Neal Schon guitar solo?
Moving along, Resonate is quintessential Journey, blurring a ballad with the grandeur of epic melodic rock arrangement. Perhaps the most interesting song is She's a Mystery, one of only two songs with Pineda in the writing credits. (It's essentially Cain and Schon, as usual). It's minimalist: lyric over guitar, only to erupt in the end in a Journey style reminiscent of Infinity. Drummer Deen Castronovo is the clear star of Human Feel, a treatise against electronic ubiquitous information age wrapped in catchy rock. A third ballad comes in the appeal for world peace on the spiritual and soaring To Whom It May Concern. Eclipse rounds out with Someone, possibly the most lackluster song on the disc, and closes with the Neal Schon lead instrumental Venus
Finally, there's an interesting undercurrent in the lyrics of Eclipse. Journey has always been an 'inspirational' or better 'motivational' band: think Don't Stop Believin' et al. With Eclipse, there appears to be a theme of universal spiritualism (religion) in the words. It's certainly self-evident in City of Hope, Tantra, Ritual, and To Whom It May Concern. This may be coming from Jonathon Cain, one of the two principal songwriters, who states in the credits, "... to God who helped me discover the mystery and power that is - Tantra." Which god is not specified; however, that universalism of all paths leading to some nebulous god appears in both City of Hope and To Whom It May Concern.
It's not necessary to compare Eclipse to Journey of the wonder years, although most anybody over 45 years old probably will. This work finds the band in fine form and doing what they do best: being Journey, the kings (or grandfathers) of American melodic arena rock. 'Nuff said. Quite recommended.
On Eclipse, Journey is whole once more. With Arnel Pineda settling in on vocals on his second disc, Journey delivers what they do best pure AOR melodic rock that inspires and entertains.
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