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Music Review: Eclipse – Are You Ready To Rock?

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There have been a few significant changes to Sweden’s Eclipse since the release of their last album Second To None in 2003. First, line-up changes forced a two-year break. Following that they have adopted a slightly heavier style. This is reflected in the title of their third album, Are You Ready To Rock? (Frontiers Records)

Okay, there won’t be any prizes for originality being handed out with a title like that. I have to say that when I saw the album's name it was a case of déjà vu all over again. However, as they say, you shouldn't judge a book by its, er, name.

Eclipse was formed back in 1999 by lead singer Erik Martensson. The band released their first album The Truth And A Little More in 2001 on the Z label. In 2003 they switched labels, signing with Frontiers Records. Their next effort, Second To None, attracted some impressive reviews. It had a distinctly melodic rock flavour to it, showcasing the band's ability to write tracks around huge melodies. It brought inevitable references to bands such as Europe and gained them a reputation and a growing following.

All was not well, however, and this brought about the aforementioned two-year break. In 2007 the two surviving members, Erik and Magnus Henriksson, locked themselves away for a week and produced an album’s worth of material. This time they focused on straightforward, riff-oriented rock, with an altogether harder edge.

Drummer Robert Back and keyboard player Johan Berlin complete the line-up of the 2008 version of Eclipse. The quick answer to their own question posed by the album’s title is yes, this is definitely a band ready to rock. With a style akin to a Swedish Whitesnake and tracks crammed with powerful hooks, Eclipse have achieved the shift in gear with hard rocking efficiency.

The melodic element is still very much apparent but this is altogether more kick butt rock. Mixed with Erik’s powerful vocals out front, there is a controlled power that is instantly evident on tracks such as “Under The Gun”, “Young Guns”, “2 Souls”, and “Wylde One”.

There is no title track on the album. So it appears that Are You Ready To Rock? is a rather clichéd statement of purpose. It is tight, driving, compact, stylish, and contains that very sense of purpose that they wanted to convey.

There is also, perhaps, a slight air of similar predictability in some of the lyrics. For example, two of the first three tracks are of the 'broken heart' variety and yet the album still works as the bad injects some originality through quality performances. Magnus Henriksson’s guitar shines throughout, adding huge additional splashes of purpose and style. Without a ballad in sight this is most definitely a play it loud album. Eclipse have proved they are ready to rock. Are you?

More information can be found on the band's MySpace page or their official website.

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