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Arena - The Visitor CD (album) cover





4.04 | 660 ratings

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4 stars This is certainly progressive *rock*, a concept album in the neo-prog tradition of Genesis and Marillion, but with strong echoes of mainstream rock.

The album starts quite slowly, the first few tracks are either a little melodramatic or somewhat unmemorable, but it really comes to life with the fifth track, The Hanging Tree, a masterpiece that evokes the mystery and magic of the places of our childhood and the sense of loss at having left those places and that childhood.

The Hanging True is followed by another stand-out track, A State of Grace, which sounds like a song Marillion would have made around this time if Fish had never left. Those two tracks are probably the album highlights, but there are other strong songs here, such as (Don't Forget to) Breath, Tears in the Rain and Enemy Without.

The story of the mysterious visitor adds an extra dimension and unity to the album, though many of the tracks (particularly the strongest) work perfectly well outside the context of the over-arching story.

Overall, an excellent addition to any prog rock collection; probably essential for neo-prog aficionados.

jmeadow | 4/5 |


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