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Arena - Contagion CD (album) cover





4.16 | 594 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars After their previous good records "The Visitor" and "Immortal ?", the expectations were too high for sure. But Arena didn't disappoint the expectancies creating this very enjoyable album! Their style is maintained, the so called neo progressive rock, followers of IQ, MARILLION and PENDRAGON but with METAL influences, transmitted by instrumental strenght and speedy passages. Comparatively to the previous records, there are no long suites; in fact the longest track has 5:34, with many tracks of 2 or 3 minutes. But the tracks are well orchestrated with each others, giving a great continuance to the album; besides, there are parts that are repeated in two distant tracks, all this contributing to the truly unit of the album. The album presents us with great ambiences and great emotional sonorities, particularly the guitar work and the neo like organ. It has a lot of good melodies (sad emotional and more angst ones) spread all over.

Lyrically, futuristic ideas, the main theme is about the end of human race and the final judgement, as seen for example in AYREON's Into The Electric Castle.

When I started listening the album with Witch Hunt, (besides realizing that it was not a RUSH's cover from "Moving Pictures") I started to think that the album would be crap. The introducing song is not very progressive, it's like a METALLICA track taken from their most commercial releases. But don't be frightened because the album is going to improve a lot. The next track, An Angel Falls, is a little piano minuet with sad melody leading to Painted Man, with its main catchy bass riff (which is going to reappear in the album) and good melody. (This Way) Madness Lies is an instrumental, the first highlight of the album; it as great guitar work, particularly in the end. The climax of this song is amazing, with its tense and emotionally beautiful guitar crying and background chorus. The next track is subdivided in two parts: the first a sad and calm melody and the second, heavier. Again, sad piano in Never Ending Night leading to the heavier Skin Game. Salamander and the instrumental On The Box are another highlights of the album, presenting good ambiences created by good solo guitar work and by the organ and orchestra. In Bitter Harvest the catchy bass riff of the third track appears now as guitar riff. Riding The Tide, another highlight, achieved mainly by its spacey keyboard melodies perhaps inspired in PENDRAGON's "The Masquerade Overture". The next track presents us emotional melody with piano playing and no guitar. More again good melody in Cutting The Cards, this time joyful and more epic. The album ends not brilliantly (but it could be much worse) with Ascension. I think this album should end with a big suite and not a verse/refrain/verse/refrain track.

Essential for MARILLION, PENDRAGON, IQ and other neo-prog lovers! Highly recommendable to all progressive music fans.

My rate: 7,5/10

TRoTZ | 4/5 |


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