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on 23 July 2015
It took me a long time to muster up the motivation to buy this album. With reviewers saying things like "Not as good as their other albums" I didn't exactly have high hopes. The last two albums have been OK, but ultimately haven't survived for a huge amount of time in the 'recently played' section of my MP3 player. Double Eclipse on the other hand is still there, some 20 years later. So just for the sake of it I finally took the plunge and man have I regretted waiting this long, what an album!
Quite frankly, I was getting very tired of hearing Josh Ramos's style of playing and it has made such a refreshing difference NOT to have him on this album! There are some great melodies, above average lyrics and of course incredibly powerful vocals. Johnny Gioeli is a machine, reaching notes I can only dream of and sounding as good, if not better than he did 25 years ago with their first album. His voice always seems to be a bit 'Too' faded into the mix with hardline albums, but they seem to have got it just right with this one. But where they've got it right in one area, another area suffers - and that seems to be the case with the guitars. Whoever they got to fill in for Ramos is an absolute beast with some of the most impressively accurate soloing I've heard in a good while. Where the sound of the soloing is nice, the riffing and chords just don't have that aggressive crunch that made the first two albums so awesome. And the problem isn't just that the sound is a bit too faded into the background, its also that there isn't really any decent riffing. In fact, it doesn't really sound like any effort at all has gone into creating some decent riffs - or even decent original chords changes. Whether this was a limitation given to the guitarist or whether there were time restraints I don't know - but judging by the quality of soloing, I would bet that there were limitations. This makes each track a bit predictable and formulaic - but I'm writing from a musicians perspective who listens to Dream Theater and Symphony X - so that probably won't be an issue for most pop rock listeners!
Overall this is one of the best modern hard rock releases I've heard in a long while and there really is a lot of energy in it. Already I think I've listened to this album more than I have with "II" and "leaving the end open" so I think this is probably my second favourite album. Its a good solid album with no fillers, well worth getting - and important to keep supporting these die hard bands that are fighting to keep good music alive!