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Yngwie Malmsteen > Eclipse > Reviews > Wacke
Yngwie Malmsteen - Eclipse

A Total Eclipse Of The Heart... Well, Close Enough - 85%

Wacke, September 20th, 2022

Few guitar players and people in heavy music in general have been at the center of so many hot topics as Yngwie Malmsteen has. Growing up as a metalhead in Sweden during the 2000s, Yngwie was as much of a legendary household name as let's say Europe or even ABBA. Just not nearly as commercially successful. Us Swedes are very happy about our cultural legacy. It doesn't matter if you find Yngwie to be soulless or the most amazing musician of all time. If you're a Swede you do know some basic Yngwie Malmsteen. It's as simple as that.

Thankfully, with the guidance of my 1980s metalhead dad I grew up digging into all that classic old stuff. I didn't care about any of the modern metal or which crappy Swedish bands carried our banner during the 2000s. I grew a particular fascination for my country's classic albeit largely forgotten and obscure hard rock and metal legacy. Bands like Heavy Load, Madison, Gotham City to name a few, as well as the more well known bands like Europe, Treat and Candlemass. Another band among these was Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, a direct recommendation from my dad. But it wasn't until my 15th birthday when I recieved my godmother's old vinyl copy of Marching Out (1985) that my fascination and love for Yngwie's music truly lit up like a burning flame. It became one of my favorite Swedish metal records of all time and it prompted me to seek out the rest of Yngwie's works in chronological order, following my fascination for the 1980s to the fullest extent by trying to replicate it as much as possible.

By the time I reached 1990's Eclipse I was becoming somewhat reserved. I didn't like much about 90s metal at the time, nothing at all really. Like so many other bands did at that time I expected Yngwie to take his sound toward the more down-tuned and somewhat simplified route. Lo and behold my surprise when I found out that Eclipse not only extended the sounds of the 80s into the 90s, but also went almost further back into it than Yngwie's previous album Odyssey had ever gone back in 1988. Looking at it today, it was a dated album right out the gate. It still sounded like something stuck in the 1980s while also keeping company with whatever few bands that were still carrying this kind of sound into the early 1990s with limited success. But most of all, its sound appealed to me.

Opening the album is "Making Love", a track that's as heavy as it is ridden with some typical Swedish AOR sounds of its time, giving it a very melodic and catchy chorus. Despite the cheesy lyrical subject and accessible chorus the song is driven by a heavy and triumphant riff that really drives the song. "Bedroom Eyes" takes Yngwie into a new territory with some Hendrix-y guitars and a glammy hard rock sound that could've been taken right off of MTV at the time. While it's far from the best tune on here it still works out quite alright in the end, not to mention it's a sound that Yngwie would explore further during the 90s. "Save Our Love" is the mandatory ballad and it's definitely in competition with Yngwie's Swedish contemporaries of the time. Without a clue I imagine this might've been a minor hit in Sweden back then. "Motherless Child", "Demon Driver" and "See You In Hell (Don't Be Late)" are all speedy numbers that let Yngwie do what he does best by ripping it up, while "Judas" and "What Do You Want" make great attempts at being catchy radio metal. But the perhaps coolest song on here is "Devil In Disguise", an epic and unusually doom-y number for Yngwie's standards. It reminds me a great deal of what Black Sabbath did with vocalist Tony Martin around the same time. Perhaps Yngwie had been listening to some Candlemass (or then current Black Sabbath) at the time.

The album's production values are an improvement to all the previous albums, with the songs sitting firm and nicely in a great and crystal clear mix. The mastering leaves a lot of room for the instrumentation to breath, adding great dynamics to the overall sound. It's a very pleasant listening experience while maintaining enough aggression to not let the music become tame, especially Yngwie's guitars, all complete with just about a perfect amount of reverb to my ears.

Musically this album saw an entirely new backing band but the result is not whole lot different to me. It still sounds undoubtedly like Yngwie Malmsteen's band (Rising Force or solo or whatever he decides to call it at the moment). With a constantly revolving door of singers fronting Yngwie's band, the biggest but also most expected difference here is the addition of vocalist Göran Edman, who I priorly knew from Sweden's Madison and the first incarnation of John Norum's (Europe) solo band. I always thought he had a pretty good voice but truth be told, maybe his voice was too soft for Yngwie's band. Whereas I think he was perfect fit for Madison's Judas Priest-flavored Diamond Mistress (1984), I find his voice to be somewhat weak after having had the likes of Jeff Scott Soto and Joe Lynn Turner fronting Yngwie's band prior to him. His high-pitched style works great for many of the slow and melodic parts or catchy choruses, but isn't aggressive enough to tackle the faster or heavier parts of the album. On top of this his pronounciation is a bit lacking in some of the songs and as a fellow Swede, I can't unhear his co called Swenglish.

Eclipse is not a perfect album and I know it's split the fans over the years, but it does a lot more right than it does wrong to my ears. Maybe the sound is a bit too keyboard-heavy and the vocals are lacking balls in certain places, but I find the overall songwriting to be very strong and memorable. There's no shortage of great riffs and solos to be found on here. Compared to previous albums Yngwie also took some distinct new directions and chances with this release and for most part I think it payed off. But most of all it does exactly what I want and expect from a Malmsteen album, namely deliver a manifest of superb guitar playing. Some of my favorite riffs from Yngwie are to be found here and contrary to popular beliefs from his many critics, he keeps his solos contained within their proper slots and performs them very tastefully.

There's not much I would potentially change about Eclipse. I'd like to hear it with the voice of Jeff Scott Soto or Michael Vescera. Maybe tone down on some of the cheesy and AOR-y keyboards that dominate in certain places. But other than that I feel confident in calling this album my second favorite Malmsteen solo album, only surpassed by the mighty Marching Out and Alcatrazz's No Parole From Rock 'n' Roll (1983).

I highly recommend this album to fans of hard rock, heavy metal, US power metal and even glam metal, especially those with a taste for neo-classical influences or vastly guitar-driven songs.

Check-outs: "Making Love", "Demon Driver", "See You In Hell (Don't Be Late)", "Devil In Disguise".