Under The Radar : Journey, Eclipse (2011)
• Arnel Pineda – lead vocals • Neal Schon – lead guitars, backing vocals, co-producer • Jonathan Cain – keyboards, rhythm guitars, backing vocals, co-producer • Ross Valory – bass guitar, backing vocals • Deen Castronovo – drums, percussion, backing vocals Eclipse is the fourteenth studio album by Journey. The 12-track album was released on May 24, 2011, with Kevin Shirley, Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain producing. Eclipse is the second studio album to feature YouTube discovery Arnel Pineda on vocals. In North America, the album was exclusively sold at Wal-Mart.
Eclipse reached No. 13 on the US Billboard 200 chart and entered the Top 40 album charts in five different countries. Despite high chart positions it quickly descended from the charts within weeks.
Due to the album’s lack of success, Journey has become reluctant at the prospect of recording a new album, focusing primarily on live performances.
While the record didn’t match the commercial success of bands prior releases, it still had a lot to offer.
First, Eclipse is in my opinion an innovative record, with Journey moving away from their synonymous pop hits and ballads in favor of fusing/focusing on their prog-rock/hard rock abilities.
Second, Journey’s fourteenth studio album brings their unsung hero, guitarist Neal Schon to the forefront. Yes, he is one of the most respected guitarists in the music world, but it always felt that he was holding himself back in Journey for the greater good of the song or album. That is definitely not case here, Schon heavily dominates this album unleashing killer riff after killer riff. Without a doubt this is Schon's most inspired playing and his status as a guitar virtuoso will go unchallenged.
Third, lead singer Arnel Pineda's vocal delivery on this album is jaw-dropping. Pineda may have originally been brought in to reproduce Steve Perry's vocals, but on Eclipse he stands on his own with his amazing vocal range and grittier presence, delivering his own unique take to the material.
Fourth, Journey had become a band again. There were no longer Journey with another new singer replacing or mimicking the legendary "other guy". Pineda has injected new life into this Classic Rock Band, and they were inspired to prove that they were much more than overblown tribute/nostalgia act.
In my opinion Eclipse is simply a stunning record from beginning to end, but if I had choose then I would pick the following tracks as the album's highlights; the inspiring album opener; City Of Hope, the thunderous rocker; Edge of the Moment, the slow burning majestic third track; Chain of Love, the uplifting pop rocker; Anything Is Possible and the epic ballads; Tantra and To Whom It May Concern.
The album stumbled in resonating with the fan base because of the bands decision to downplay their signature catchy pop anthems and ballads that fans have come to expect with a Journey record. Fans who grew up listening to Journey's Greatest hits will definitely have a hard time wrapping their head around the guitar driven tracks that have an average run time of about five and a half minutes. Perhaps if Journey would have included a second disc with a remixed, shortened and more radio friendly version of the record in order for the fans to slowly get on board with this new incarnation of the band.
Still, Eclipse is a great record showcasing a group that is truly inspired to evolve and expand their signature sound ,giving rock fans something truly exhilarating and poignant. Highly recommended.