Journey: Eclipse

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Posted July 2, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in Reviews 1.0
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New album featuring new recruit finds Journey playing with harder experimental rock and longer showcases

Those searching for pop-friendly rock hooked to the Glee revived “Don’t Stop Believin’” may need to be warned: that’s not happening on Eclipse. On the band’s fourteenth album, they return to their origins from the Santana upbringing by hyping up the big guitar spectacles, rock interplay and epic instrumentals and kicking out their Eighties arena-rock and giving hardcore Journey fans something heartier to devour for long-listening escapades. Critics have always given Journey the cold shoulder: When they played soft for the MTV audiences with their pop hits, they were considered too soft. When they went for angry, mean and prolific rock, critics surrendered to the idea that they were wannabes pretending to be grown-up rock gods. On Eclipse, Journey original and guitarist Neal Schon pretty much scores the album on his own, producing with key wiz Jonathan Cain and Kevin Shirley. The big prog rock is explosive with most songs ticking close to the six-minute mark. This is the kind of a showcase that works well in the live shows, and it’s also the stuff that proves to be a strong fit for Steve Perry replacement, Arnel Pineda. In many ways, Pineda sounds like his elder, channeling his high register and proving to be mightier than Conan in battle. Although the hooks aren’t always underlined for the pop-trained ear, the songs still reflect the Journey brand, all the way down to the harmonies. “City of Hope” is an elaborate opener, leading into similar-sounding uptempos. The pace slows up with one of the album’s sweetest standouts: “Tantra.” The song opens with an intimate piano solo, then Pineda smoothly walks in with peaceful vocals, then “Tantra” takes off with its muscular chorus. “Anything Is Possible” – tracing some of the AOR warmness of “Tantra” – periodically gives those easily turned on to the positive inspirations of Glee’s cover of “Don’t Stop Believin’” something to gnaw on, but this album is pretty much geared towards hardcore Journey fans, especially those with a craving for accessible “kick out the jams.” The album is loaded with just too many adventurous rock jams (“Chain of Love,” “Resonate”) for the newborn to really appreciate.

J MATTHEW COBB

HIFI DETAILS

  • Release Date: 24 May 2011
  • Label: Nomota LLC
  • Producers: Kevin Shirley, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain
  • Spin This: “Tantra,” “City of Hope”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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