Generally speaking, hard rock and melodic metal are types of high-energy, feel-good music. Coming out on October 8th, 2021, via Frontiers Records, the upcoming tenth studio album from Sweden’s ECLIPSE, “Wired,” is definitely no exception to the rule. Then again, everyone that has heard the massive hit, “Viva La Victoria” (from 2019’s “Paradigm”), knows that these Swedes deliver on all counts of rock music with a feel-good vibe to it.
I always find it a bit difficult to review albums in the hard rock genre because I consider the songs to be pretty straightforward and simple, as there aren’t many things going on in the background or much variation as far as the instrumental side goes (like is the case with symphonic metal or progressive metal). Hard rock mostly relies on a great groove carried either by a skillful guitar melody or by soaring vocals… and that’s basically it. As such, the eleven tracks that make up “Wired” are clear-cut rock anthems that are as uplifting as they are energetic and, true enough, there are moments when such groovy tunes work better than an overcomplicated piece of music.
Subjectivity aside, what is really impressive about this album and about ECLIPSE’s music in general, is the vocal department. Erik Mårtensson not only has a very powerful and nuanced voice, but the layering that appears in some songs makes everything sound bigger and more expansive. It is captivating to hear him sing. The second most impressive thing is Magnus Henriksson and his guitar playing and solos. From acoustic folk melodies to explosive solos and crushing riffs, he delivers everything the songs need without ever feeling like it’s too much. I don’t want to leave out the rhythm section though, because both the bass and the drums are solid and unrelenting throughout, providing a steady backdrop for the vocal melodies to entice the listeners.
Opener “Roses on Your Grave” isn’t as morbid as the title might suggest but an up-tempo and heavy track that puts you in a great mood immediately, as it boasts a groovy bass melody and a catchy chorus. From here on, things only get better as “Dying Breed” is an upbeat and uplifting track where the vocal layering really elevates the music. The guitars may be a bit in the background but the rhythm section is tight and fierce. Released as a single, “Saturday Night (Hallelujah)” is a massive rock and roll anthem that will be a definite crowd-pleaser when played live. For some reason, this track gives me old-school BON JOVI vibes, probably because of the lyric, “We sleep when we’re dead,” as well as the carpe diem approach to enjoying life.
Up next, “Run for Cover” has a darker atmosphere to it, which comes from the calmer vocals in the verses and the grave bass tone. Erik Mårtensson gives all he’s got in this one, while the solo is just an injection of intensity and vitality, thus pulling the music from the aforementioned darker atmosphere into a more energetic direction. “Carved in Stone” is a ballad that features gentle acoustic guitar, some humming in the background, and heartfelt vocals. Halfway through, it picks up the pace as some electric guitars and powerful drums are added to the fold, but without losing its emotional edge. Another cut released as a single is “Twilight,” a hard rocker with some more of the vocal layering mentioned earlier and a rather metallic feel to it. The track also features a piano melody that plays “Ode to Joy” towards the end, which is probably the best musical motif to have as a hidden melody in a song.
“Poison Inside My Heart” has a folky beginning that brings to mind ELVENKING, but it takes a different avenue, being a power ballad at its core, with a dramatic chorus and intense verses. Single “Bite the Bullet” is a heavy, anthemic, and big track, with gritty guitars, pounding bass, and soaring vocals, showcasing ECLIPSE at their best. The drum groove in “We Didn’t Come to Lose” is absolutely killer, surpassed only by the excellent guitar solo. Again, the vocal layering gives depth and a sense of being larger-than-life to the chorus. Veering a bit into AOR territory, “Things We Love” is another groovy tune with a bombastic chorus and wonderful guitar work. The album closes on a high note with “Dead Inside,” a heavy yet melodic track with an incredible chorus hook that will have listeners singing along in no time. This track provides a truly great finish to a solid record.
To sum it up, “Wired” combines heaviness and melody at such a high level that they will surely leave you wanting more. Each track has its own flavor and appeal, which speaks volumes about the first-rate musicianship of the band members. It’s the type of album that plays on their strengths, showing once again why ECLIPSE is regarded as one of the best (albeit underrated) rock bands around. “Wired” is the melodic hard rock album of the year, as far as I’m concerned.
Written by Andrea Crow
Roses On Your Grave
Saturday Night (Hallelujah)
Run For Cover
Carved In Stone
Poison Inside My Heart
Bite The Bullet
We Didn’t Come To Lose
Things We Love
Dead Inside (Bonus Track)
Erik Mårtensson – Vocals
Magnus Henriksson – Guitars
Philip Crusner – Drums
Victor Crusner – Bass