Let’s face it ECLIPSE is one of the best modern rock bands out there at the moment, tag them how you will, they manage to combine a real sense of melody and power, have a song-writing prowess that few can match, and somehow manage to pull in fans from rock’s disparate genres. It’s their consistency though that is so frightening. After the excellent ‘Bleed and Scream’ in 2012, the remastered, remixed, bonus track laden update of the out of print 2008 ‘Are You Ready To Rock (MMXIV)’ in 2014 and the magnificent ‘Armageddonize’ in 2015 here they come with their latest opus ‘Monumentum’.
As Erik puts it: “When I go and see a band I just want to hear songs that make me wanna put my fist in the air and scream along, and I want everyone around me to do the same. Well, Monumentum is one giant fist waiting for a chanting crowd of rockers. We can’t wait for the people to hear it!”
It may have been two years since we last heard a new full length album from Swedish hard rockers Eclipse but the band hasn’t exactly been silent, playing to audiences in Australia, Japan, America and Europe, not to mention the three and a half million viewers who saw Eclipse’s debut on Swedish national television at Melodifestivalen 2016. And it’s that kind of momentum that makes ‘Monumentum’ so focussed and oh, so very good.
When you’ve just put out two albums of the likes of ‘Bleed and Scream’ and ‘Armageddonize’ the question is how on earth do you top that, can it even be done? And if you can build on that very solid foundation where to next? How big can these guys get? How much can they achieve?
The answer of course lies in the grooves and Monumentum’s opener VERTIGO offers the best possible clues to whether the train is still rolling or maybe even tearing up the tracks. It’s a chugging melodic hard rocker of the highest order replete with trademark refrain and a nice hard edge that combines the thrust and edge of ‘Let It Scream’ with the real soaring melodies of ‘Armageddonize’. Immediately you start to think that the time Mårtensson and Henriksson spent writing in Erik’s new studio in the Swedish countryside has more than paid off. This as the band says “is an album with no compromise of either song quality or performance”.
‘Never Look Back’ that follows that fiery first foray is more melody heavy fare, a slight lush lull that showcases the smooth harmonies we all know sets Eclipse aside from the pack; its a song with some great chant along backing vocals and made to energise a crowd. ‘Killing Me’ offers a third take on the ECLIPSE sound – a subtler verse with a huge fiery refrain, sublime solo and great drive from bass and drums.
The deeper you get the more you realise how important this album really could be, not just to ECLIPSE but to rock in general. There’s such quality here its hard not to imagine rock surging back into the general consciousness. ‘The Downfall of Eden’ is case in point, lighter, with a Celtic vibe and a touch of Thin Lizzy, its a song that offers up all kinds of potential. ‘Hurt’ that follows is the ballad, cool, reflective, with some huge vocals, it builds like all the best ballads do and sits crowned with a sumptuous solo.
Back to the meat and potatoes ‘Jaded’, another song we heard in the lead up to this release is another sure-fire winner, there’s a real pop sensibility and drive offset with a great guitar riff and a melody to die for. ‘Born To Lead’ is even better – trademark ECLIPSE, bursting with guitar and driven by drums, it thumps against the speakers and seems certain to make the ‘live’ cut.
Sooner than you hoped you’re in the final third of the album, though in truth by ‘For Better of Worse’ I’m already using the word ‘classic’ far too frequently and I imagine grinning like a kid with far too much sugar on his hands. It’s a melodic rocker that leaves no stone unturned in its quest for the perfect sing-along melody! ‘No Way Back’ starts out with a suitably fiery Henriksson solo and sports a riff twice as weighty as Eclipse has attempted previously – it’s a gloriously solid rock tune with a whale-like chorus that tops what can only be described as a show-stopper. man this is good.
The album rounds out with two equally fine tunes ‘Night Comes Crawling’ with its sing-along chorus and glorious backing vocals and show closer ‘Black Rain’ a real epic which again reaches out for that heavy riffage and embraces it. Driven along by Ulfstedt’s bass to a chorus which because of the slower pace of the song seems even more huge, its beautifully constructed, epic and preposterously cool; and to my ears there’s an almost modern day Europe feel to it which is no bad thing at all. In fact I’d like to hear more in this vein, especially that guitar!
So there we have it 11 flawless tracks, great melodies, huge riffs, searing guitar, memorable bass and drums. This is a release that has it all. Is it better than their previous releases? You’ll have to decide because all I want to do is play it again. I’ll just say this – I can’t at this stage see it not being my album of the year…
Erik Mårtensson – lead vocals, guitars
Magnus Henriksson – guitars
Philip Crusner – drums
Magnus Ulfstedt – bass