It was all looking a bit touch-and-go for Reigning Days for a moment there. Since their self-titled debut EP was released in mid-2016, they’ve been building up a considerable amount of steam, but never breaking through to that next stage with another release. There may have been a few singles here and there, but otherwise, Reigning Days seemed to be exhibiting all the classic signs of a perennial support band, one with their name out there but never really capitalising on it in the most effective way.
Even with the announcement of their debut full-length Eclipse, those worries hadn’t entirely gone away; fourteen tracks is a considerable amount for any band, never mind one that relies on fairly straightforward riff-rock without much room for deviation, and with every song on their EP also featuring here, it could give the impression that Reigning Days are stretching for material here. And while that’s not entirely the case, Eclipse does suffer from some severe flabbiness that was notably absent from their EP, and while it’s admirable that Reigning Days have tried to expand their sound with the intention of not losing out on the fundamentals (and they’ve done a fairly good job of that, to be honest), this isn’t entirely the awakening of a fantastic, new hard rock force that it could’ve been.
That’s not to say this is a particularly bad album though, mostly because Reigning Days’ sound has a future-proofed quality in its straightforwardness that keeps it on a fairly even keel. It’s definitely beneficial that the EP tracks continue to hold up, mostly because they provide a baseline of what to expect here. And as far as fairly mid-level garage-rock goes, Eclipse has it fair share of standouts; Boy Who Cried Wolf and Inhaler both make good use of Dan Steer’s deeper, more portentous vocals paired with simpler riffs, and the quicker, fidgeting gait of All I Wanna Do weaves a little more complexity into the mix, albeit not so much that it becomes too alienating or weird. This is very much a mainstream-leaning rock album, from the rather basic, traditional song structure to the slight sanding around the edges of the production to make it all the more palatable. Sure, it’d be nice to see what Reigning Days are capable of if they let loose with a bit more rawness, but this is still solid as far as this cleaner brand of rock goes, and the fact that unnecessarily diverting to clearly fashionable pop tones never crosses this band’s mind is definitely a good sign.
That said, it probably would be nice for Reigning Days to take at least some inspiration from outside sources, as Eclipse feels like an album tightly sealed within its own box, and with a clear-cut set of ideals at their disposal, it’s hardly surprising that some moments begin to sag. Chemical and Thrones approach something of an indie tone but feel too thin and lacking in drive to do anything, but even away from this, the lack of any sufficient diversity seriously takes it toll. It’s something of an explanation for why the tracks brought over from their EP easily stand out; Empire and Crazy Horse actually have that slight roughness and greater crunch, whereas a good portion of the rest can feel watered down and, at times, a little dreary. As an album, Eclipse begins to run together fairly early on, and any real standout moments become all the more scarce.
That’s a shame too, because, for what they were doing, Reigning Days showed some potential to bright some more spark back to a riff-rock scene growing more stagnant by the day, and they haven’t really done that here. It’s not totally squandered by any means, and putting forward the claim for mainstream acceptance is done slightly better than most, but Eclipse doesn’t hold a great deal of weight beyond some isolated moments. It’s still worth a listen though, even if you mightn’t take that much away from it.
For fans of: Royal Blood, Fangclub, Witterquick
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Eclipse’ by Reigning Days is released on 13th April on Marshall Records.