VIVA LA VICTOURIA
Released on November 6, 2020 (Frontiers Music Srl)
When I found out that Eclipse were going to be releasing a live CD/DVD titled Viva La VicTOURia, it was easily one of the most anticipated releases of the year for me. Why you may ask? Well, let’s start off by stating that I was absolutely blown away by Eclipse when I saw them play live that one time back at the Rock N Skull Festival in Joliet, Illinois, USA in late October 2016. How good were Eclipse that day? There were 31 different sets from 30 different artists / bands over the course of that four day rock festival. I ranked all of the bands’ performances from first to last and this was my description of Eclipse‘s set: “Simply the best. Eclipse set the bar too high for any other act to reach.” Yes, Eclipse took the top honours (in my view) at Rock N Skull.
Putting aside that Eclipse are a sensational live act, the Viva La VicTOURia tour was in support of what I view to be the group’s best studio album (Paradigm) and this is from a band that has released five very good studio albums in a row now with Are You Ready To Rock (2008), Bleed & Scream (2012), Armageddonize (2014), Monumentum (2017) and of course Paradigm (2019). It’s hard for just about any band to come up with two good albums in a row so being able to release five quality albums in a row is a very impressive feat. Paradigm finished at #1 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2019, #10 on the Sleaze Roxx Readers’ Top 20 Albums of 2019) and #7 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top 12 Albums of the Decade (2010-2019).
The drawback with a high level of hype and anticipation in advance of an album is that in many cases, the record never lives up to your expectations. I am happy to report that Eclipse were able to meet my lofty expectations with Viva La VicTOURia. For those who were hoping and looking for a career retrospective with Viva La VicTOURia, that did not happen simply because Eclipse were not planning on releasing a live CD/DVD and simply used one of their recorded and filmed shows from their tour in support of Paradigm. While usually a set heavy on a new album is almost to be frowned upon for a live album, in the case of Eclipse, since Paradigm is such a quality record, I was actually happy that their live set included a lot of songs for that album. The Live From Gothenburg includes two songs from Bleed & Scream (2012), three or four (if you count “Runaways” which ended up on the deluxe edition) from Armageddonize (2014), five from Monumentum (2017) and seven from Paradigm (2019).
I actually prefer the Live In Gothenburg DVD over the CD because I feel that the DVD better captures the crowd’s excitement and engagement as well as the band members’ energy and great performance. Unlike many live releases, Eclipse offer quite a bit of extras including their Live From The Quarantine studio performance on DVD, which took place at the start of the worldwide shutdown cause by the Covid pandemic. Eclipse were the first, if not one of the first, to offer a quality live pay per view concert when the world shut down due to Covid. It was actually a really fun set to watch and I am glad that Eclipse included that “live” footage on their Viva La VicTOURia CD/DVD. In addition, Eclipse also included a Viva La VicTOURia tour documentary, which sees Mårtensson, guitarist Magnus Henriksson and drummer Philip Crusner commenting on each track from the Paradigm album. If anything, that documentary reminded me how many great songs that there are on that record and what a pity that songs such as “The Masquerade” and “.38 or .44” weren’t included on this live release. The latter part of the tour documentary sees the introduction of new bassist Victor Crusner who provided a funny story about how he first learned Eclipse‘s songs and the “shock” that this caused to his new bandmates.
Speaking of Victor Crusner, the rather tall bassist also appears to be a great addition to the band as he displays a lot of energy on both the Live From The Quarantine and Live In Gothenburg videos. Although I applaud Eclipse for providing tons of bonus material including a studio version of their cover of Lisa Miskovsky‘s single “Driving One of Your Cars” as well as recordings from their Live From The Quarantine performance on the CD portion, I’ve always preferred when you just get the live performance in question without any bonus tracks. The DVD portion is another story though as the more stuff is offered, the better. That being said, I feel like I am being a bit nitpicky here as for most people, likely the more material, the better. Listening to the tracks from Paradigm in a live setting also made me appreciate little things that I hand’t noticed before such as Henriksson‘s guitar solo on “Mary Leigh” sounds very old school Ace Frehley like.
Although Eclipse likely have not accumulated millions of dollars or even hundreds of thousand of dollars in the last 20 years like the multi-platinum selling hard rock and heavy metal bands from the ’80s achieved back in the day, I view Eclipse as one of the best and most consistent bands of the last 10 to 15 years, and Viva La VicTOURia simply highlights how good this band really is. This is a must have live CD/DVD for your collection.
01. Viva La Victoria
02. Mary Leigh
03. Blood Wants Blood
04. The Storm
07. Shelter Me
09. The Downfall of Eden
10. When The Winter Ends
11. Take Me Home
01. Black Rain
02. Blood Enemies
03. Stand On Your Feet
05. I Don’t Wanna Say I’m Sorry
06. Never Look Back
07. Drive One of Your Cars
08. The Downfall of Eden (acoustic)
09. When The Winter Ends (acoustic)
10. Battlegrounds (quarantine live)
11. Driving One of Your Cars (quarantine live)
12. Delirious (quarantine live)
01. Live In Gothenburg
02. Live From The Quarantine
03. Viva La VicTOURia Tour Documentary
Erik Mårtensson – lead vocals, guitar
Magnus Henriksson, – guitar, background vocals
Victor Crusner – bass, background vocals
Philip Crusner – drums
Audio produced and mixed by Erik Mårtensson
Recorded by Chris Buckley
Filmed by Calle Thorén, Gustaf Blix and Aurora Alånge
Directed and edited by Victor Crusner
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, November 2020
Eclipse‘s “Viva La Victoria” video (Live In Gothenburg):
Eclipse‘s “Downfall of Eden” video (Live In Gothenburg):
Eclipse‘s “Runaways” video (Live In Gothenburg):