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Arena - The Unquiet Sky CD (album) cover





3.67 | 287 ratings

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4 stars The Unquiet Sky is a welcome return to form by Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer's pomp prog vehicle, Arena, and it certainly is a huge improvement on Seventh Degree of Separation, an album generally regarded as being a massive disappointment.

The key, really, is a return to what the band do well. Take a story, preferably, as in this case, one revolving around the supernatural and ghostly world, add layer upon layer of huge sounds, until an atmospheric masterpiece is created. Simple, eh?

I have to say that one of the pleasures of this album is just how much of a great performance Paul Manzi puts in. Massive vocals, atmospheric, and reflecting the quality of the material he works with. I was not overly impressed on the last album, and this, I have to say, really sounds as if it was the material, rather than the bloke himself to blame. Manzi is very well suited to the overblown post-neo pomp of Arena, rather than the ill advised crashing metal he was on previously.

John Mitchell is as good as he has ever sounded, meaning we are treated to some fantastic licks. Clive Nolan has, especially, returned to that layered sound. His effects on the title track (think the prog version of Enya) are a joy to listen to, whilst the rhythm section of Amos and Pointer are extremely efficient in keeping matters moving along nicely.

This album is, for me, in the top five prog releases of 2015, and it has been played many times now, and, if anything, gets more enjoyable with each listen. Beholding such a return to form has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the year musically.

This is up there with the best of Arena, and gets an easy four stars, in reality four and a half, if we had such a rating. An excellent addition to any prog collection, and those unfamiliar with the band's work, or this type of bombastic prog, could do a lot worst that starting here. Hugely enjoyable.

lazland | 4/5 |


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