Genre: Melodic Hard Rock
Record Label: Frontiers
Release Date: February 24th 2015
1. I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry
2. Stand On Your Feet
3. The Storm
4. Blood Enemies
5. Wide Open
6. Live Like I’m Dying
8. Love Bites
9. Caught Up In The Rush
10. One Life – My Life
They say things come in threes. Classic albums and bands truly at the top of their game always seem to be able to release a trio of consecutive albums that cement their position as a force to be reckoned with. Bon Jovi for me peaked with ‘Slippery When Wet’, ‘New Jersey’ and ‘Keep The Faith’, Def Leppard had ‘Pyromania’, ‘Hysteria’ and ‘Adrenalize’. Its with the similarly titled ‘Armageddonize’ that we find Eclipse delivering their third consecutive blinder of a release. Ignoring their first two albums that even Erik Mårtensson describes as demos, the band first found their place in rock music and their own unique style with album number three (Leppard and Bon Jovi comparisons abound again). ‘Are You Ready To Rock’ is littered with classic live anthems such as ‘Breaking My Heart Again’, ‘To Mend A Broken Heart’ , ‘Wylde One’ and more, all of which get aired on stage to the delight of fans. The same can be said of follow up ‘Bleed and Scream’ with ‘Wake Me Up’, ‘Battlegrounds’ and personal favourite ‘Ain’t Dead Yet’ gracing set lists and proving beyond doubt that these Swedes have really nailed Hard Rock song writing.
How the hell do they manage to top that then? The previous two albums are never far away from my reach, the perfect energised feel good albums that cannot fail to put a smile onto your face after a bad day at work. Both sit firmly in my albums of the year lists for 2008 and 2012 (even the remixed version of ‘Are You Ready..‘ in 2014 almost got the nod again for my top five). Well, the simple answer is “seemingly with ease”. Taking everything great that the previous two albums have delivered and putting it all into a single disc delivers without a doubt the ‘sum of all parts’ and is all the better for it.
An atmospheric intro to ‘I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry’ fools the listener into settling down before Erik lets rip with a top of range “Heyyyyyyyyy!!!” and the band kick in with galloping drums and bass and Magnus Henriksson steams in with riff after riff. The riffs and licks flow with such ease, that you wonder if Magnus went to the same school as Tony Iommi and has boxes of snippits ready to use at the drop of a hat on future releases.
Being a hard rock release the fans of course need a couple of tracks completed with ‘woah oah oah’ in the chorus somewhere and this is delivered on that opening track leaving the listener with a smile as wide as the Öresund Bridge. Before we have chance to take a breath however, ‘Stand On Your Feet’, the first single / video from the album kicks in with additional piano \ keyboard work and as Erik starts to sing, the crunchy riff again drives the song forward. Vocally Erik is at the top of his game and is every bit as proficient as his peers from his native Sweden. Having thought of him more as a guitarist and always wishing he would play as well as sing at Eclipse shows it also highlights just how good Magnus is to deliver the guitar work and let Erik focus on the vocal elements.
If you want tracks to head bang to, they are present. If you want tracks to sing along to, the box is also checked. If you want tracks to play to friends to say “Look what you are missing out on you idiot!” they are numbered 1 to 10 on this album and all of them can be used as examples. ‘Blood Enemies‘ is one such track that encompasses everything a rock fan wants in a track. Pulsating bass and drum combos, stunning guitar riffs and snarling vocals that rattle around your brain and leave you just that little bit breathless wit no time to take a breath before the next one kicks in.
Tracks like ‘Love Bites’ echo elements of ‘Ain’t Dead Yet’ for those that like their rock to be slightly harder than just melodic. Erik snarls his way through the vocals and proves again he is a man of immense talent. Song writer, producer, guitarist and singer… It’s like he fell out of the talent tree at birth and cherry picked all of the things he needed to be successful on the way down through the branches.
To remain impartial and look critically at every track, trying to find the glitch the dip in quality, the filler in the killer etc.. is always difficult when you are such a fan of band. There is a desire to hear the band succeed at every level yet ensure the review you deliver is fair and reasonable. Therefore this album has been on my iPhone for the last three weeks on continuous rotation so that I can ensure I know every nuance, every lick, every line and yet I still find it flawless. But is that necessarily a bad thing? Not at all and it means that the score afforded to it below is genuine and not thrown out on the back of a single listen before moving onto the next review. I shall be listening to this album for years to come and shall make sure that I always carry it with me should I ever end up marooned on a desert island one day.
Written by Adrian Hextall
SCORE ADRIAN 10/10