Journey

Eclipse

Written by: TL on 02/06/2011 23:37:26

About six months ago, at the Rockfreaks.net new years party, at some hour after midnight: PP's apartment is pretty much destroyed at this point, and most guests have moved on to other places. A dozen diehards are still hanging out though, taking turns at putting songs on the stereo. I will forever remember this night, as the time I put on Journey's "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)", and nobody at the party recognized the song, nor the band. An utter travesty it was in my opinion, considering the 'timeless classic' status Journey hits like that and "Don't Stop Believing" normally command. I've carried that memory since then, and when I saw recently a new Journey album, today, in 2011, in our promo thread, I naturally jumped at the chance to do the old mega-stars some justice.

One small problem though. Despite appreciating Journey's hits, I can't say I've been following them closely, so it didn't hit me till I did my research, that since the 80's, the band has fired about 9000 members due to "creative differences" etc. To this day, the only standing members from the band's early 80's heyday, are lead guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain. And here I was hoping to hear how legendary singer Steve Perry was holding up. Sadface.

Truth be told though, I don't know if it's due to new members, or just due to the band evolving over time, but the material on this new album, called "Eclipse" by the way, isn't entirely similar to the hits many of you will remember. Journey still reside between the prog/hard/classic rock spectrum of genres, but these days they seem to be less about catchy, radio-friendly hooks and more about ambitious prog-songs, although they still remember to include singalongable choruses.

In terms of musical technicality and production values, "Eclipse" sounds every bit the work of experience that it unquestionably is, so there's nothing to put a finger on here. On the flipside, you'd be hard pressed to find evidence that Journey are trying to stay relevant. Prog'ier as their songs may be, they still embody a style that is hopelessly anchored in the 80's and will hardly appeal to those that aren't interested in nostalgia from the decade.

Furthermore, that prog of this kind is un-trendy is one thing, but in all honest, I think the step away from obviously catchy melodies and singing makes Journey a more generic band, regardless of what year it is. Current singer Arnel Pineda, who was hired from a tribute band (Rock Star anyone?), has impressive pipes for sure, but is too much of a typical prog-singer for my tastes, and compared (perhaps unfairly) to Steve Perry, Pineda sounds like he's busier bending notes than adding emotion to the song.

Criticisms aside, there are few enjoyable songs to be found on "Eclipse". Opener "City Of Hope" is catchy enough to merit attention, while cuts like "Tantra" and "Anything Is Possible" have enough of the long lost 80's sappyness to feel at least remotely lovable. All of those are situated on the album's first half though, and somewhere around the halfway mark, it starts becoming harder to forget how dated Journey actually sound today. In the end, it's hard to recommend the album to anyone but existing fans of either Journey or 80's nostalgia in general. To them, it should deliver enough of a potent rendition of the genre, but to most others, I'd rather recommend spinning the songs from the band's prime some more.

6

Download: City Of Hope, Anything Is Possible, Tantra
For The Fans Of: Europe, Styx, Foreigner, Boston, Survivor, Kansas,
Listen: myspace.com/journey

Release Date 30.05.2011
Frontiers/Target

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