Eclipse – Paradigm (Frontiers Music)Friday, 18th October 2019
Growing up in an era of melodic hard rock/ AOR being staples of this scribe’s youth, it’s evident that finding newer artists up to the level of quality issued in the 70’s and 80’s for this style can be a challenge. When you find one that resonates and hits all the sweet spots, you squeeze it and cherish it for all its worth. That’s the case with Eclipse from Sweden – combining that arena-worthy ambiance with splendid hooks and choruses plus that extra musicianship finesse to deliver mesmerizing songwriting album after album. Together now twenty years, the quartet’s seventh studio album Paradigm represents another sterling effort that pushes quality track to track, injecting a sense of comfort on all levels vocally and musically to align with those that love everything from Journey and Pretty Maids to Def Leppard and current artists like Alter Bridge or Kissin’ Dynamite.
Unafraid to put folk/spaghetti-western nuances for opener “Viva La Victoria” or “United”, it’s that deeper attention to detail that distinguishes Eclipse from the hordes, beyond the incredible aural swell that takes their choruses to the stars. Vocalist / guitarist Erik Mårtensson possesses the right personal inflections to command listeners through his mid-range and slightly higher register melodies – the choruses endearing especially during a more energetic ‘metal’ oriented track like “Delirious” while showcasing the proper tenderness in the verses for the follow-up “When the Winter Ends”. The band aren’t afraid to showcase some of their skill sets and chops to add fuel to the proverbial electricity of this material – check out the closing lead break for “When the Winter Ends” for Magnus Henriksson’s knack for accentuating the main hook with some Neal Schon-like passion, or his fiery rhythm foundation play that veers slightly into power metal with “38 or 44”. There’s also a cultural aspect to many of the songs like “The Masquerade” and “Mary Leigh” that drives the melodies and harmonies home to the listeners on that second/third level where you have a familiarity to the proceedings, but then it grabs you again that much more. The eleven songs fly by in a succinct 41 minutes, making it very easy to return to the record immediately.
Eclipse by all accounts should be an arena-level band in terms of an audience on tour not just in Europe but around the globe. Paradigm is a melodic hard rock/AOR tour de force, with splashes of metal – and it’s infectious, contagious, and cathartic for those who love strong songwriting at the heart of their music.