So here we are barely a week or so into January and we have a new Erik Martensson penned album on the racks again ready to be devoured and dissected by fans of all things melodic. The question is does it eclipse Eclipse to use an awkward phrase. Well in my opinion no it doesn't, but it has a bloody good go!
This is basically a new Eclipse album with a different singer with the singer being Pretty Maids man Ronnie Atkins. When I heard about this project of course I was excited enough because of Erik's name alone. Only thing is I've never been a huge Maids fan although their recent material is really strong and pretty great. I always found Ronnie's slightly raspy voice something good but never great. I guess I just prefer a smoother delivery. Anyway I've managed to get through four plays of this record now and I'm sitting in a fair position to judge it.
I will do a quick song by song as usual.
The War Has Begun - A crunchy and pacing opening riff tells you all you need to know. We're listening to a new wicked tune penned by the one and only Erik Martensson! Soon that familiar chorus comes in and it's a hell of a catch and the subject seems to be very serious as well. Ronnie transfers the emotion of the lyrics very well indeed. The song picks up pace as the solo thunders into view and we're almost at power metal speed before that thunderous chorus takes us to a fitting conclusion. A monster start 9.5/10
Hypocrisy - Hell yeah! Now we're talking. As with Armageddonize which had Stand On Your Feet, this album has a monster second track. Hypocrisy absolutely kills from start to finish. All the regular Erik trademarks are check off one after the other. The chorus is monstrous on this track and I can imagine Erik belting this one out. 10/10
Wide Awake - A better and smoother vocal line opens the song from Ronnie this time and soon that familiar Martensson style rears its big fat head and leaves you with a joyous grin. The song tones down the heaviness but piles on a bigger melody in the chorus. 8.5/10
Every Heartbeat - Time to slow it down with an emotional melody and sung pretty brilliantly by Ronnie I must admit. I don't normally tend to like Erik's ballads but this is a pretty decent one. It's not amazing though, it's just a solid and melodic slow burner with a nice melody and a long repeated chorus. 7.5/10
When Death Is Calling - The song lulls you into a false sense of security, as the opening is quite soft, but then in the second verse a monster riff kicks and the riffs pound headlong into the chorus. The song is quite dark as the subject matter dictates but the melody is very cool indeed. Ronnie's voice is much raspier in this track than say the track Wide Awake. The chorus is as usual a repeated one until the end comes. A great track. 8.5/10
21 Guns - Well well, a fucking killer start on this track and Ronnie singing great. The riff behind the main verses has a killer little melody and soon the chorus surfaces and it's a true monster. Love this! This could well be my fave track on the album. The energy is crisp and Ronnie sounds amazing. I'll be learning that chorus in no time trust me! The song is far too short and begs for the repeat button! 10/10!!
Falling - A pounding heavy opening riff in this mid paced juggernaut of a song and again Ronnie using a smoother voice which suits me better. The song has a great build and the chorus is very 80s AORish. The melody is seriously catchy and addictive but it's quite light sounding compared to Eclipse. The melody is out of this world catchy though so who cares. A superb song and probably the most hit worthy song on the album. If the charts had sense they'd push this to number one! 9.5/10
The Other Side - A mid paced song but Ronnie's vocals sound too rough on the first verse before the chorus soon kicks in and reminds you of the typical Erik formula with a repeated line. The melody is OK but it's not the best song in this bunch by a long chalk. It's a standard solid Erik penned tune with actually a killer lead break which raises it a bit. 8/10
Point Of No Return - I can tell this is going to be killer from that opening melodic riff which hints at a heavier and more melodic approach if that's possible. And yes I'm not wrong as that killer riff leaves your head nodding and feet tapping whilst Ronnie sings very good. I love his voice in this track. Why can't he sing like this in every track? The chorus is not so typical Erik either but the melody is as addictive as ever. The guitar solo is superb as well and Ronnie sings the title over the top. A monster track and one of my faves 9.5/10
True Love Awaits You - The song starts moody and acoustic before simpler chords add a little weight but there is no heaviness in this sweet ballad. The chorus is very melodic and catchy but a little too sugary for my taste. A nice song but no my fave style but I still give a good rate as it's performed so well. 8/10
Go - A sweet tempo to end the album with nice melodic riffs and Ronnie using his smooth in the verse before going raspier in the chorus. Speaking of that bad boy it's another typical Erik monster. I'm sure I heard this chorus before hehe! I know people complain that Erik recycles melodies from his own songs and he probably does but you know what who cares. Better to recycle a brilliant melody than a crap one! The song is really catchy, but I was thinking maybe they'd go out with a heavier bang like they do on Eclipse albums but I ain't complaining. It still kills! 9/10
So there we have it the boy genius does it again. The formula remains the same but the addiction stays strong. I was a bit wary of this project. I haven't loved all of Erik's projects completely in recent years. I've always loved Eclipse and felt he saved his best stuff for his own band but this time he's working with a veteran and I think he pulled out all the stops for Ronnie. He couldn't give him half assed songs to sing and he dug deep to make the songs as catchy and cool as possible. If you like Eclipse this is an absolute no brainer. Personally I rate this a little below the day job as it's a little lighter in places and also Ronnie's vocals whilst very good at times are not always perfect to my ears, but that's just personal taste. The album is flawlessly produced and I will have a hell of a lot more fun listening to this especially in the warm summer nights to come. I'll be blasting this bad boy long into the night and hopefully the neighbours will like it too! 8.5/10