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Arena - The Seventh Degree of Separation CD (album) cover





3.47 | 346 ratings

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3 stars This is at the same time a significant departure from Arena's style yet it retains the essential ingredients of their sound that make them Arena - pompous, forceful rock with highest quality ingredients throughout - from words to vocals and individual instruments (well, maybe except for the drums). It's not the first time they change - they went from enjoyable, yet derivative genesis-pink floyd amalgam to metallic neo-prog, doing 3 albums of each. A harbinger of what's to come now?

Its true that little here remains of prog - it's mostly vocal-driven hard rock with backing synths, a la the 80s, but with a modern production touch. But it's good hard rock, with screaming guitar licks (like in Rapture) and catchy melodies. Yet it's baffling that it took them 7 years to come with this, even with band members doing other projects. 2003's Contagion also had short songs as part of a concept cycle, but they were filled with little details, which left impression of a well-crafted album. Here it seems they are not really trying, as if they did an album just for the sake of maintaining Arena brand - more popular than all other projects.

To sum up, if you put all Arena's songs into iPod and hit random, the better half of these songs (the defiant Rapture, lush melodic hard rock of One last au revoir, trademark Arena's bittersweet and mysterious slow burners Close your eyes and What if, and Catching the bullet, the only complex number here) would be a welcome periodic diversification from older, headier numbers. But this album in its entirety is a hard listen, because many songs tend to blend (also because the constant dramatic voice is mixed in a way that tends to overpower things) and have little else to leave a lasting impression but a catchy chorus and a few memorable riffs.

Progrussia | 3/5 |


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