A growing trend in today’s music industry is the releasing of an upgraded “deluxe” version of a previously released album. We all know that our favorite bands are not making millions off album sales. If anything, releasing a new album is just a reason to book a tour and sell some merchandise. While I do not blame an artist for trying to get as much out of an album as they can there are certain things needed for a deluxe edition to be legitimate product and not a cash grab. I look for three things in a deluxe edition. One: the original product has to be great from start to finish. Two: there has to be quality bonus material that you cannot get anywhere else. Lastly, the packaging of the deluxe version has to go to another level not only in expanding on the original but also in quantity of information. In meeting this criteria, the deluxe version of Eclipse‘s Armageddonize crushes two out of the three.
For a review of the original release of Armageddonize see the Meister‘s February 2015 review (Eclipse-Armageddonize Review). To his words, I will add that in the last five or so years melodic rock as a genre has provided some of my favorite music. For me, a good song is one that makes you sing along without you even knowing you are singing along. It is a song that 20 minutes after you stopped listening, it pops back in your head forcing you to hum the melody the rest of the day. Eclipse nails both of these on Armageddonize and if you do not believe me listen to either “I Don’t Want to Say I’m Sorry” or “Wide Open”. I guarantee you will start singing along by the second chorus and the melody will be in your head the rest of the day. All twelve songs are great, absolutely no filler here.
Bonus material usually comes in three ways, unreleased studio songs, acoustic versions of songs, or unreleased live tracks or a concert. Usually, you get one or two of these, but on the deluxe version of Armageddonize, you get all three. First, there is an 11 song live concert which is basically a greatest hits package from Armageddonize and Bleed and Scream. While it sounds live, the overall sound quality is good and the song selection is a perfect blend of their last two releases. As far as unreleased material goes sometimes it is easy to hear why certain songs did not make the album. Not here, all three unreleased songs are great. “Come Hell or High Water” may be the heaviest song on the album, “Into the Fire” is a fast-paced rocker, and “Runaways” has a super catchy chorus. “Runaways” was Eclipse‘s entry into this year’s Melodifestivalen 2016 competition. The song got them a fifth place finish which begs the question what the other entries sounded like because “Runaways” rocks. The last bit of bonus material is the three acoustic songs “The Storm”, “Battlegrounds”, and “I Don’t Want to Say I’m Sorry”. The key to a good acoustic version of a song is being able to change arrangement without losing the main idea of the song. Nobody wants the same song recorded with just acoustic instruments which is what “The Storm” ends up being. “I Don’t Want to Say I’m Sorry” is a good, very powerful rendition of the original, but “Battlegrounds” takes on a whole new epic identity that is completely different from the original.
As far as packaging goes Eclipse did a fine job on the original release. I can’t say much on the deluxe version since I did not receive the physical copy, but from what I have seen online, it looks pretty much the same as the original. That is a bit of a letdown to what is otherwise a quality deluxe version. If for no other reason I would buy this for the live concert CD alone, the unreleased material and acoustic versions are just extra gravy on top. Eclipse is at the top of the melodic rock scene, and Armageddonize is a genre defining release, buy this album you will not be disappointed.