November 3, 2020

Eclipse is another of those mighty fine melodic bands from Sweden having formed in 1999 but with a sound and style that dates back to the heady days of the ’80s when hair metal and AOR stood shoulder to shoulder as they swept all before them. Times have changed very much since then but there is still a huge market for cultured and classy rock bands with a talent for writing instantly hitting rock songs with melody at the core, singers with golden voices and guitarists who can crank up the power when required.

Eclipse has always been a major player in the modern melodic rock world and the band has now released seven extremely enjoyable and refined rock albums full of melody yet still very capable of rocking with the best of them. A fair few musicians have come and gone over the years but the crucial founder members of vocalist and guitarist Erik Mårtensson (Nordic Union) and guitarist Magnus Henriksson remain with the line-up now being completed with Philip Crusner on drums and Victor Crusner on bass. The last studio album released in 2019 was Paradigm and it was nothing short of sensation and very typical Eclipse in that it was an immediately hitting rock album with huge melodic roots that rocked when it needed to rock but also featured the requisite beautifully arranged ballads and proved, if proof were ever needed, that the band is up there with the best of them in the ranks of the AOR greats.

It always amazes as to why there are so many great rock vocalists in Scandinavia and the band scores very heavily here as Erik Mårtensson is a truly exceptional singer with a voice that has so much power yet perfect control too and he has the ability to go stratospheric whenever he so chooses, it seems that this man can simply do no wrong. So everything is in perfect order for this fine band and therefore what better time is there to release their first ever official live album than whilst touring in support of the Paradigm record? The release is available in multiple formats with 2CD/DVD, Blu-ray and 3LP (a red, a white and a blue disc and all 180g) so there is plenty of choice in how you enjoy this most superior product. The gig was recorded at the Trädgårn venue in Gothenburg, Sweden on 21st December 2019 and captures Eclipse in all of its glory as a live band and probably playing as well as they ever in its entire history.

The live set is split over two CDs with eighteen magnificent songs and a running time of around 80-minutes which has left ample time for several bonus tracks (on both CD and LP) which are the new studio track Driving One Of Your Cars which is a very radio friendly cover of a song written by Swedish singer Lisa Miskovsky plus gorgeous acoustic versions of The Downfall Of Eden and When The Winter Ends. The CD then has a further three live tracks from the Live From The Quarantine pay per view gig at Studio Grondahl in Stockholm on April 1st 2020 and are Battlegrounds, Driving One Of Your Cars and Delirious. The LP version gets two further bonus songs from the Quarantine gig in ‘Mary Leigh’ and ‘Hurt’ which is something different as it is usually the CD release that gets the bonus tracks, which makes a nice change. As should be expected, the Trädgårn set sees the band playing seven tracks from Paradigm, with five from 2017’s Monumentum, five from 2015’s Armageddonize and just the one from 2012’s Bleed & Scream which, obviously means nothing from the first three albums but the songs chosen are the obvious ones and it is a set designed to thrill and provide maximum audience enjoyment. It is amazing how the band manages to infuse the material with such vitality, vigour and elemental force in the live format and both band and audience feed off this primal power. There is plenty of interaction between band and audience too and it is easy to see that they are very much under the spell of the special Eclipse magic that the band exudes. Eclipse are truly on fire here as they put everything that they have into the performance at this great looking venue which allows for a real intimacy between band and fans. The sound is exceptionally clean and bright and a great production job has been done with the band being on top form and note perfect. The camera work is a mixture of long shots from the back of the hall plus plenty of close-up and on stage shots and the band most definitely plays to the cameras as there is a real synergy taking place in the auditorium. It seems that there is only a 2.0 soundtrack but what does come out of the speakers is impeccably mixed and sounds great when cranked really high.

The DVD and Blu-ray both feature the full concert plus the full Quarantine gig and there is also a 35-minue documentary that covers interviews with the band talking about the new Paradigm album and associated tour culminating in this release plus footage from the tour recorded backstage, tour bus and behind the scenes and further interviews charting the development of Eclipse which includes historic footage. This wasn’t made available for review but is sure to fascinate fans of the band. The video footage of the Live From The Quarantine gig runs at 62-minutes but is missing Driving One Of Your Cars which, I assume, is for copyright reasons. This live footage is a real treasure and sees the band effectively playing in the round in a tight and compact recording studio and this gives the performance a real edge as they play an absolutely spectacular and incendiary set and all with plentiful humour. All who watch this will be blown away seeing another side of the band as they take their performance and musicianship to a totally new level which makes this as good as package of a live gig that you will ever see. Of course, Mårtensson and Henriksson are the stars as the singing and guitar playing is exceptional and Mårtensson gets extra praise too as his guitar work is excellent and he combines superbly with Henriksson and they both look quite spectacular when stood back to back with guitars raised aloft! The two Crusner brothers are like rocks and have a most special rapport as they drive everything forward which allows Mårtensson and Henriksson to provide all of the necessary fireworks.

Eclipse is a great band and this is a marvellous recording of two very special gigs and there is so much here for all music fans to savour and enjoy.

Viva La VicTOURia track list

CD1

  1. Viva La Victoria (3:50)
  2. Mary Leigh (3:19)
  3. Blood Wants Blood (3:25)
  4. The Storm (4:30)
  5. Vertigo (3:49)
  6. Jaded (4:13)
  7. Shelter Me (3:30)
  8. United (3:55)
  9. The Downfall Of Eden (4:51)
  10. When The Winter Ends (7:11)
  11. Take Me Home (3:58)
  12. Battlegrounds (7:08)

CD2

  1. Black Rain (4:52)
  2. Blood Enemies (4:58)
  3. Stand On Your Feet (3:56)
  4. Runaways (4:14)
  5. I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry (4:38)
  6. Never Look Back (6:11)
  7. Driving One Of Your Cars (Studio Version) (3:35)
  8. The Downfall Of Eden (Acoustic Version) (4:02)
  9. When The Winter Ends (Acoustic Version) (3:32)
  10. Battlegrounds (Quarantine Live) (4:25)
  11.  Driving One Of Your Cars (Quarantine Live) (3:40)
  12. Delirious (Quarantine Live) (3:23)

DVD/Blu-Ray set: Viva La Victoria, Mary Leigh, Blood Wants Blood, The Storm, Vertigo, Jaded, Shelter Me, United, The Downfall Of Eden, When The Winter Ends, Take Me Home, Battlegrounds, Black Rain, Blood Enemies, Stand On Your Feet, Runaways, I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry, Never Look Back.

Quarantine set: Battlegrounds, Mary Leigh, Delirious, Blood Wants Blood, The Storm, Hurt, The Downfall Of Eden, Black Rain, Blood Enemies, Bleed & Scream, Viva La Victoria, Never Look Back.

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