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Arena - Contagion CD (album) cover





4.16 | 675 ratings

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3 stars This one's rather disappointed me. At common sense, this is the kind of structural and stylistic copy of THE VISITOR album. Once again we have a depressive conceptual album with a range of short tracks, Prog-Metal-like arrangements and apocalyptic themes in lyrics. But it seems like less sincere and shows nothing especially new in musical sense.

CONTAGION (just like THE VISITOR) starts with loud heavy-metallic song with primitive refrains WITCH HUNT, the kind of tracks I could listen in mid-90s albums by Skyclad, Queensryche or Fates Warning. I even can say that the later albums by Arena could be rather influented by Queensryche's early 90s' albums (PROMISED LAND, for example) - it's quiet possible, because the sound and even the melodic directions are rather similar in both - heavier numbers and softer slow-tempo ones. So if you're a fan of later records by Arena, you also would easily get into Queensryche too... ;-)

I also was quiet disappointed by another kind of influence here - I'm talking about the elements of so-called "alternative" music of 90s which is still so popular nowadays. Honestly, I almost hate this kind of style - it's as no rock music (definitely) but as still is no pop - something in the middle of, "alternative" (compromising?), "as for ours, as for yours" - the kind of stuff is very useful for show-business and its top-managers' big pockets, but not for the real Art as it seems to me. (That's why I don't like Radiohead and simply hate different Oasis-Schmoasis and such-like). So I've discovered a bit of smell of "brit-pop" at some moments of CONTAGION, at Mea-Culpa, for example - what the hell of primitiveness with those weird vocal's effects?! And another example of filler - Cutting The Cards - the band simply has explored the melody of Spectre Of The Feast with acoustical guitar "Spanish" arrangement. But it is stupidly in my honest opinion! I need to say the end of the album is spoiled at all...

Gladly, there's a good stuff on CONTAGION too. At first a couple of brilliant instrumentals - On The Box and especially This Way Madness Lies - I guess that the guitarist John Mitchell is the strongest and the "most Progressive" participant of Arena. It seems like all the stronger moments on the last albums by the band are belongs to him, his guitar works are really amazing at times. In contrast, the synth-oriented instrumental Riding The Tide is more unmemorable and adds nothing especially new except several pretty melodies ripped-off from Genesis's Cinema Show, but in far less sincere and inspiring way than Tony Banks has done. Another highlights are heavy slowly-tempo compositions Salamander and Painted Man, with excellent guitar works again. Spectre Of The Feast is also among the album's highlights I guess.

So, I give the three stars for CONTAGION.

Emperor | 3/5 |


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