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Journey - 2011 Eclipse

ARTIST: Journey
ALBUM: Eclipse
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2011


LINEUP: Neal Schon - guitars, backing vocals * Jonahan Cain - keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals * Ross Valory - bass, backing vocals * Deen Castronovo - drums, percussion, backing vocals * Arnel Pineda - lead vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 City Of Hope * 02 Edge Of The Moment * 03 Chain Of Love * 04 Tantra * 05 Anything Is Possible * 06 Resonate * 07 She's A Mystery * 08 Human Feel * 09 Ritual * 10 To Whom It May Concern * 11 Someone * 12 Venus



This is the band that is considered by many to be the unifying force of the AOR movement. Not that the movement is anything to skite about these days, as its popularity is nothing compared to the heydays of the late 70's and early 80's. And with the music industry in turmoil and media indifference to any artist trying to make a buck in our favourite sub-genre of rock, you would think that Journey and their ilk would be spending their days parked up in a recliner taking it easy drinking cups of tea and watching reruns of The Waltons. Not so, and with the triumvirate of Journey, Styx and Night Ranger out on the road together during mid 2011, anyone would be forgiven for thinking that we are currently in the midst of the glory days of AOR. Sadly this is not the case. It's not helped by Journey's latest album 'Eclipse' being unsure of its place in the overall scheme of things. Worldwide, people just can't quite make up their mind what this album is all about. Some say great, some say rubbish. The indifference unfortunately means the album will never be compared favourably to their previous classic albums, and for those that try to do so, they are seriously deluded. Like many, I have been bought up on this band since before Steve Perry joined. We've all seen the ups and downs throughout the years. On some occasions, I have had to spend a lot of time with an album to get into it. Admittedly, this was never the case with any of the Perry era albums. All were immediate. I had to seriously question the merits of 'Arrival', 'Generations' (though I ended up really liking that one) as well as 'Revelation'. But 'Eclipse' I'm afraid takes the cake. Schon and Cain must have really wanted to tip the apple cart on its head with this album, and they succeeded in doing so, but for the want of 'rocking out', they have sacrificed a bit in the process.

The Songs
For me, the material never reaches the dizzy heights of yesteryear, and has a hard time holding my attention. Out of the twelve tracks, none of them earn repeat-play status. I have played the album back to back trying to find some consolation throughout but it never came. Previous albums came dressed with curtains of shade and light. 'Eclipse' is well named considered the music is doused in shadow most of the time, with the occasional ray of light trying to pierce through. When it does, the band sound on-song, as on brighter efforts such as the acoustic and wistful 'She's A Mystery', the ballad 'To Whom It May Concern' and 'Someone', a lighter sounding but still rockin' tune reminiscent of their legacy. The rest quite frankly is a hard-sell. The major issue for me is that the songs are too long. Ten of the tracks are well over 5 minutes, the attention span in this day and age doesn't hold on for that long. The days of the compact radio format sugar-bullet are long gone it would seem. I have no idea what 'Tantra' was all about, ponderous mostly with an awful chorus, and at 6 min 43 secs, I would've thought that 'Human Feel' could've offered more in the way of interest. It didn't. I want my approx 7 minutes back. 'Resonate' was ok, but it took all of a minute to warm up, but the music and lyrics sounded/looked as if it were wrapped in some dark emotion laden blanket. Same too 'Edge Of The Moment' which was probably composed on a wet and rainy day such is the colour and mood. 'Anything Is Possible' is much better, so too 'Ritual' which romps along at a brisk pace and is Journey in one of their better phases.

In Summary
Despite a handful of tunes achieving a pass mark, for the first time, I can say unequivocally that this is perhaps the most disappointing Journey album I've listened to. With songs that don't hold the attention span, that are too long in their playing time, and with more shadow cast over the music than light, I can see many long time fans pondering the question, 'what the heck?' Despite all the current hoopla and PR, don't believe it for a minute. Look, let me throw one last sentence on 'Eclipse'. It's not a bad album, but it's far from exceptional too. In the end it was a huge struggle to make anything of it. As Eric and I have said on many of our album reviews, your mileage on this one may vary. For me, I'm out of gas already. Looking ahead, I think it's safe to say that 'Infinity' and 'Escape' will still rule in my Journey playlists for years to come.

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#1 | Eric on June 18 2011 12:58:54
When Journey were a 'prog' band on the first three, they might have stretched out but never forgot the hooks. Here there are no hooks, even 'To whom it may concern' the ballad- which these guys always excelled at- offers nothing memorable. I left Journey in a big way in the early '80s, but have bought everything they've done since-just because. This is their poorest showing yet. Time Journey as a band and the tired Scarab shtick to go their separate ways...
#2 | Carl Noonan on June 18 2011 14:55:21
Don't agree there are no hooks on this album. I've been playing it for weeks and it's full of them. It's not their best but it's the strongest release post Perry for me.
I can hum the tune of every track in my head quite easily and yet I am still hearing bits of music I hadn't noticed each time I listen. I'm not put off by the length of the songs or lack of a Don't Stop Believin styel track at all. There are plenty of reminders of the older Journey catalogue and enough newer things not to make it a carbon copy of previous work. I'd give it 90%.
#3 | dangerzone on June 18 2011 15:42:14
I agree with the sentiments echoed by George and Eric. This is a horrendously dull album that doesn't beg repeat listenings on my part anyway. The tracks are too convoluted as if the band was trying too hard to be more complicated or unpredictable. But the end result is a stack load of flat melodies and guitar work that by Schon's standards is alarmingly repetitive. I'll be honest, I haven't cared for anything since 'Trial By Fire' by Journey and I don't think at this stage that's likely to change.
#4 | rkbluez on June 18 2011 16:33:49
I'm with Carl on this one...I liked it and the harder rockin' and longer songs approach was welcomed by me anyways...I would of rather had them get Greg Rolie back and go back to their more progressive OTT mid 70's jazzier moments of the first 3 CD's where Schon could really cut loose and shine but since that will never happen I'm more than satisfied with this new's certainly better than a lot of the other ho hum crap parading as melodic rock now.
#5 | gdazegod on June 19 2011 00:45:26
Well, as I said, mileage on this will vary from person to person.
#6 | jeffrey343 on June 19 2011 02:52:58
Jury is still out for me... I've had it three weeks and listened through it only twice, as the first time was not that immediate, and I had other stuff I wanted to listen to more for a while. The second listen was better, and the third time around is improving too. So it is growing on me, but it remains to see how much. There is nothing on here as catchy as the best tunes on 'Revelation', but a few songs have started to work for me ( 'Anything Is Possible', 'Resonate', and 'Someone' ).
#7 | george_the_jack on June 19 2011 12:44:25
Inferior compared to "Revelation".That's for sure.
#8 | roadrunner158 on June 20 2011 15:23:55
I actually like this CD a lot. There are a lot of great hooks on offer, and "Tantra" has an amazing chorus to my ears - sorry gdazegod Smile However, it's far from the 100% rating it got on
#9 | DEMONAOR on June 21 2011 07:12:37
Great album, not 100% rating but still a great album.
#10 | Eric on June 24 2011 03:36:50
Hate to say it, but Schon and Cain would be wise to enlist someone like Clive Davis as Carlos Santana did a few years back, bring in some outside songwriters and do what they've done best. The songs on this disc are not what they should be and from the recent sales and live reports- it ain't workin' for 'em.
#11 | jeffrey343 on July 12 2011 15:31:57
The jury has returned with a verdict - this is a pretty good album!. Still guilty of the charges of drawn-out intros and endings though. And "Tantra" is a very schizophrenic song - some amazing moments along with some that sound totally out-of-place on a rock album. But this one has grown on me. I do wish it had more typical Journey cuts like Revelation did. I still think the three songs I mentioned earlier are the best, and they would fit on any Journey album. Well, if you drop the first 50 seconds from "Resonate" - I need to create myself a radio-edit version of that one for shuffle-mode.

I do think I've given this album more chances to grow on me simply because it is Journey, and I'm supposed to like them. I'm definitely guilty of that - not usually to the point that I force myself to like stuff I wouldn't like if it were from another band, but more that I don't give albums from more unknown artists a chance to grow on me. But I'm glad I was patient with this one, as it has ended up being one I really enjoy. I still think Revelation was better because it has more radio-friendly songs (and I go for that in a big way), but this is still pretty good to me.
#12 | gdazegod on July 12 2011 21:57:25
Jeff, you have far more patience and tolerance than I ever have with this lot. Because there is so much good music around, I've consigned 'Eclipse' to the dark side of my record collection, to gather dust and cobwebs and whatever else lurks in the deepest recess of the back corner.

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