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Arena - Pepper's Ghost CD (album) cover





3.65 | 426 ratings

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4 stars Pepper's ghost is an illusionary technique used in theatre and in some magic tricks. Using a plate glass and special lighting techniques, it can make objects seem to appear or disappear, or make one object seem to "morph" into another. Often "Smoke and Mirrors" are used to make the trick work.

So ARENA continues to explore the somewhat "more heavier" sound. I read one review of someone comparing them to THRESHOLD. Maybe no coincidence, since "Pepper's Ghost" was also engineered and mixed by Clive Nolan together with Karl Groom, the guitar player and producer from THRESHOLD. Some people may not really like that "heavier sound" to them, but I think they are just pushing their boundaries a bit and progressing, rather than making "The Visitor Revisited".

So what about this album? I think it's true you really have to give this album more time to "sink in", than for example "The Visitor". But once you do you will notice that Rob Sowden's singing, John Mitchell's guitar solo's and Clive Nolan's keyboard playing is better than ever. Mick Pointer's drumming and Ian Salmon's bass playing are firm and steady and making the whole complete.

"Pepper's Ghost" is not really a concept album, but the 7 stories (tracks) are based on "Victorian comic strip characters" who are present in the liner notes, which is in fact a comic booklet! All fine artwork is done again by David Wyatt who also did the artwork on "Contagion". Each hero has his own specialty and his own story reminding us of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

About the stories, err. tracks: all tracks are good, but my personal favorites would be "The Eyes Of Lara Moon" and "Tantalus" because of the many tempo changes and the strong melodies they have. Sometimes very delicate, then quite heavy. I love the contrast in one song! "Opera Fanatica" is a bit of an outsider on this album. In the 1st place of course because it's very operatic and in the 2nd place because this would be the only track written by Clive Nolan without support of the other band members. With just over 13 minutes it also is the longest track on "Pepper's Ghost".

Conclusion: "Pepper's Ghost" is somewhat heavier than their previous albums. This may be partially caused by Karl Groom (THRESHOLD), but is also due to the fact that Clive Nolan has been listening to many heavier albums himself lately wanting to express this in his own music as well. Therefore it might just take a bit longer to get into their latest studio album, but once you do, it's really worth it! 4 stars well deserved!

evenless | 4/5 |


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