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Arena - The Visitor CD (album) cover

THE VISITOR

Arena

 

Neo-Prog

4.06 | 495 ratings

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jimbrown87
4 stars This album is certainly one of the best to come out in the 90s. It's still got that "flawless recording" sound that I don't particularly care for that came from the late 80s and most of the 90s. The snare drum is tuned a bit too low for my taste. But it can be easily overlooked by the quality of the songwriting and song construction. It's not so bad here as it is in majority of albums that came from that era.

Paul Wrightson has the best sound of all the vocalists to come through Arena. Although Rob Sowden can sometimes give him a run for his money. You can't compare with vocals on The Hanging Tree, (Don't Forget to) Breathe, Tears in the Rain and Running from Damascus. However I do prefer the version of Enemy Without on ARENA's live album Breakfast in Biarritz because the one on The Visitor is pure cheese. I really like Enemy Without a lot on Breakfast in Biarritz and obviously the transition from Tears in the Rain to Enemy Without to Running from Damascus is much better on The Visitor, but I've replaced my Enemy Without with the live version just because I don't feel like I have to skip it and can instead enjoy it.

Guitar work is outstanding. Even though it took me a while to warm up to the tones of the guitar, I found the work here to be intense and beautiful. John Mitchell is a very thoughtful and musical guitarist and really lays out expression on this album. I very much like the tracks Elea and Serenity the guitar work here is of high quality really feeling the music instead of just showing off. John definitely doesn't hold back when it comes to The Hanging Tree , (Don't Forget to) Breathe and Running from Damascus. And he stays consistent throughout the entire album.

The keys could use a bit of help. The atmosphere they provide are bit hazy at times and this is where the 'Studio Sound' really gets the band. Later releases you see this getting better but here it just doesn't happen. The keys ruins Enemy Without :(. It's just not something I see me driving down the straight with my windows rolled down blaring out of my speakers and by blaring I mean at a decibel level where communication isn't strained. It really isn't all bad, he's got chops and sometimes he comes out with really excellent sounds. The beginning of In the Blink of an Eye is excellent. But soon we get into video game sounding synths and not the fun sounding ones that came from regular Nintendo. Clive Nolan shines the most with Blood Red Room and does a great job providing and atmosphere in The Hanging Tree and the lead he uses for (Don't Forget to) Breathe also is worth mentioning. Both tracks wouldn't have been as good if that extra sound wasn't there to back it up.

Really, most of my problems with this album should probably be blamed on the guy who mixed the album. The composition skills and musical ability from the members of the band are exceptional. If the studio sound they came out with was better I'd give it 4.5 stars rounding up to 5 stars. Instead I must go with 3.5 rounding up to 4 stars

jimbrown87 | 4/5 |

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