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Arena - Contagion CD (album) cover





4.16 | 595 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Are you a prog purist? Instead of buying Echloyn, you'll buy Gentle Giant? Instead of purchasing Anglagard, you'd choose Genesis? You'd choose a day of Locanda delle Fate than an eternity of Spock's Beard? Then néo-prog has a massive potential to bore the hell out of you. And it's true, IQ or Marillion could make you yawn in their lack of technical challenge and repetitive keyboard atmosphere. It did for me. I assume that I have mixed feelings about that FM type of rock.

But brighten up little troopers, there is an alternative. Yep, I didn't believed it 'till I heard it.

Arena has a silly band name, let's face it. By it's name, we could anticipate Poison-type ballads or even worse....a resurrection of White Lion. Now that would've made the children cry!

But NO! I'm totally blown away by this album. Totally blown away. I'm telling you, they'll find my socks in Tibet and my shoes in Alaska. The explosion was brutal. At the first listen, Witch Hunt captured my heart by it's catchy refrain. Salamander, On the Box, Riding the Tide, Cutting the Cards, Ascension....too many great tracks to name them all.

Rob Sowden is giving a refreshing vocal performance. Few voices had stolen my heart during my exploration in the prog buisness....but his voice is sooo pleasant. Because, let's face it, Labrie's shorts-too-tight vocals are nice, but Sowden is less irritating and less pyrotechnical. Soothing I might say. Anyway, feels good.

Apart from the exquisie packaging and exceptionnal art cover, we can easily point at the robotic drumming of Mick Pointer, who doesn't seem to get any younger. He improved a lot since Jester's Tear but...he could cut a bit on the tom rolls.

Crunchy and rusty guitars, killer riffs, lush and impressive collection of keyboards and on top super vocals...this album will absolutely please the most picky progger. Hey, THIS album opened my eyes on a new type of progressive rock. Change is good...right?

This album reflects the (very) disturbed times that our world live in. Crimes, frightning deseases, hunger, obscure wars, unemployement, family violence, the list goes on. And the spooky feel on the album is reflecting the insecurity but also the need of solutions that everybody's craving. Insecurity and fear trancend throughout the whole album. Expect dark and gloomy atmosphere.

The best of what 2003 had to offer.

Menswear | 5/5 |


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