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Arena - Contagion CD (album) cover





4.14 | 621 ratings

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5 stars Have you ever noticed how some bands keep getting better with each new release while others reach their zenith on the first, second or third try and then slip into that undefined area, somewhere between mediocrity and oblivion, by constantly churning out average discs at best or diminishing albums at worst.

Arena is one of the ones that get better and better, not that their previous work isn't great. The two other albums I own, Immortal and The Visitors are also excellent. This band is accomplishing what all bands would like to do, ever improving, never peaking. It's really a shame that extraordinary works in all the sub genres of Progressive Rock/Metal music get no substantial recognition while the mostly worthless so called radio friendly music receives all the kudos on the various awards shows.

What's that popular saying, which I believe was made into a Country song? Oh yeah, "Life Sucks". Country Music has a way of cutting right to the chase don't it?

Sustaining nearly as many lineup changes as one of their influences, Yes, Arena was one of the dominant neo-prog groups of the 1990s. A Quasi-supergroup, Arena featured former members of Marillion, Pendragon, IQ, and Shadowland.

Funny, If one were to ask me who my favoite British prog-bands are along with Anathema and Mostly Autumn, I would have named all the above groups except Shadowland whom I'm not familiar with. Not surprisingly, Arena's music is similar to the the members former bands and what could be better for me (and you) than a fusion of some of my favorite prog-rock bands.

Those of you who are familiar with Marillion, I.Q. and Pendragon know those bands and by description, Arena are not heavy in the least. I always thought they were a little too mellow. In fact, I would say that it is less hard than most of the popular Pop/Rock groups of Top Forty.


The current lineup of Arena, consists of Clive Nolan Mick Pointer John Mitchell Ian Salmon and Rob Snowden,

Arena was formed in 1994 by Mick Pointer, the former drummer of Marillion, and Clive Nolan, the former keyboardist of Pendragon. after about three years of musical musician chairs, guitarist John Mitchell, who instantly proved himself an able replacement. A year later after two more defections, bassist Ian Salmon and current singer, who's quite good, Rob Snowden rounded out the current lineup.


"Witch Hunt", Never Ending Night", "Skin Game", "Salamander", "Riding the Tide", "Cutting The Cards", "Ascension"


Arena is a group that could and should have broad mass appeal since it's heritage and style are from the ever popular pioneers of British Progressive rock and even mimic somewhat, on a higher level, other very popular current British rockers, Radiohead and Coldplay.

Now some of you may have noticed that all the songs are rather short for Progressive rock songs and that is true but since this band has always been thusly categorized and since I can see no other place to put them, but you may consider them progressive alternative rock. It works for me.

The singer, Rob Snowden is excellent as are Mitchell and Nolan (Guitar and Keyboards). My version of Contagion comes in a gorgeous Triple folding digipack, which you should get if you can.

If you are a prog-rock fan, this is an essential album! If not try it anyhow. I can't recommend Contagion high enough, for any reader.

semismart | 5/5 |


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