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After a string of disappointments in other spheres of life (pls refer to my earlier posts on Super 8 & iOS 5) – I had to say something nice about something! Thankfully the rockers at pop-rock outfit Journey have, yet again, come up with a masterpiece. For those who are unaware of Journey, and there will still be some, these guys rocked the scene in the late 70’s and most of the 80’s – before singer Steve Perry departed to pursue a solo career. Journey has sold more than 80 million albums so far and are one of the best selling mainstream rock acts there ever was. “Honestly”, “Open Arms”, “Lights”, “Don’t Stop Believin'”  – all are regular radio staples and for good reason. Silky smooth compositions, amazing vocals (Steve Perry was featured in Rolling Stone’s top 100 voices of all time) and unforgettable choruses. But often, in the background of those soaring vocals, the brilliance of Neal Schon’s guitar-playing abilities and songwriting were overlooked.

When the band got together earlier this decade with Arnel Pineda (discovered while doing Journey covers on Youtube) at the mic, with “Revelation” – it seemed as if Journey was getting back into swing. But unfortunately the world had largely moved on – and even though Revelation hit platinum sales, largely driven by a very loyal fan base – Journey just felt out of place in today’s music scene. So what do a rejuvenated Journey do? The show a finger to the world and its fickleness – and come up with Eclipse. And this time, Schon had a plan. After catering to radio friendly requirements for three decades – he decided to let go and shine. And boy does Eclipse shatter every preconceived notion about Journey.

The first thing noticeable about Eclipse is a distinct heaviness in composition and overall mood. Known for their feel good vibes – Eclipse takes a whole new direction of mature powerful rock while maintaining the catchy hooks and amazing songwriting that made them famous. And the guitar-playing… Neal Schon simply rocks! Almost every song has multiple soaring solos by Schon – and is Rock at its finest. What is also amazing about this album is how songs change mood midway… adding complexity to Journey’s wide repertoire of musical talents.

Eclipse is bound to disappoint traditional Journey fans – as it eschews Radio-friendliness for pure power… I, for one, love it. This just shows that Rock was always at the heart of Journey… and they have realized that one does not have to be mushy to be mainstream.

If you are a fan of Rock music then just got and get this album. You won’t be disappointed. If you love “Open Arms”… well then it just depends on how open a mind you can keep… 😉