Monday, August 20, 2012

Eclipse - Bleed and Scream - As If Nirvana Hadn't Happened

Eclipse's Bleed and Scream is one hell of a good hard rock record. As good as any I have heard since Black Country Communion showed up out of nowhere in 2010 to remind the world of well written, played, and sung loud guitar rock. If you've ever for a moment missed great melodic metal, here's a great chance to get reacquainted.

Frontman Erik Martensonn and lead guitarist Magnus Henriksson have aimed high with this record and hit their target:

"When it was taking shape we realized this was to be a monster of an album," says Henriksson. "The whole production is just in your face. The guitar sound is just awesome. Erik's vocals are way better than ever. We worked so hard at this record that it drove us nearly nuts and made us want to scream."

The guitarist is right on the money - this could easily be read as a bout of new material enthusiasm, but when you hear this, you'll agree. Bleed and Scream is another one of those records that showed up on my door unannounced, and managed to blow my mind. The band's 2008 release, Are You Ready To Rock, was a strong album, but the band has worked hard and outdone themselves with Bleed and Scream. They riff like it's 1985, yet this record sounds as contemporary as it gets without being all wrong. There's no Auto-Tune, and there's nothing artificial - this is organically grown product. Every note on this album got played and slaved over until it was just right. This is world class hard rock, no matter how you slice it.

I put on this album, and for the first few moments I will admit that I wasn't expecting to be blown away. It's an occupational hazard, this being somewhat jaded thing. In fact, I hear a lot of records, and very few make it past the first five minutes. I guard my time and energy like a mother tiger does her cubs. I've no time for anything I don't like, and no proclivity for wasting my time with anything negative. I'll leave that for those it serves well - I'm into music for the love, and the love only. Bleed and Scream grabbed me around the neck and kept hold. It's a grower by any measure.

Martensson is an amazing musician - when not fronting Eclipse, he can be found writing, producing, singing and playing with such melodic rock stalwarts as Toto's Bobby Kimball, Jeff Scott Soto, W.E.T., Jimi Jamison, Giant, and a host of others. There's a whole world in which well played and produced rock prospers away from the American scene, and Martensson is one of this world's brightest stars. His songwriting, singing, and playing on this record is nothing short of brilliant. Guitar stars are in short display these days, and it would be a shame if you missed out on Magnus Henriksson's fiery playing. His razor sharp riffing is something to behold - a player with lightening fast chops and tasty musicality, he infuses Bleed and Scream with an astonishing amount of six string thrills per minute.

Henriksson speaks about the record. "We knew we had to do everything better on this album. Every song has the qualities of a single. If we couldn't achieve that we would have never released it. But boy did it turn out well!"

Bleed and Scream is Eclipse's third long player, and with each release they have matured - sure, at times they still come a little too close to something from the past, but twenty-five years have passed since Coverdale made his last great album, so I'm more than willing to be lenient. If I was a young kid and I heard a band that performed this well, and cranked out an album this cool, I'd damn near piss myself with excitement. I don't care what you say, there are never enough great records of any genre, and I'm thrilled to say that this disc hasn't left my desk since I discovered it.

I'm not going to go into individual tracks here, simply because every track is a winner. If you are melodic hard rock friendly, you are going to enjoy this a great deal. I'll leave it to you to discover for yourself when you buy the record.

I remember being in a rehearsal room back in 1990, as the McAuley/Schenker Group rehearsed for their Save Yourself tour, and thinking to myself how wonderful it was that this good of an outfit was getting ready to hit the road with a big hit single in their back pocket. However, no sooner did they hit the road than every radio station in the country went bat shit crazy for a band named Nirvana, and a whole new, stripped down sound. There was a new sheriff in town and things haven't been the same since. Ever since, there has never been quite enough high quality melodic hard rock being served up to satisfy my daily requirements. As I said earlier, I'll take all the great rock I can get, and this record delivers great rock in a big way.

Eclipse has been around since early in the millenium, but this is the first they've crossed my path, and I'm glad they have. If you're familiar with the band, be ready to be well pleased by their progress and this new album - if you're not familiar with these Swedes, give them a spin and be set to enjoy a great trip.

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