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Arena - Contagion CD (album) cover





4.14 | 620 ratings

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5 stars I was a little late to the party with Arena releases. I've worked my way backwards, starting with Pepper's Ghost then Contagion and so on. Contagion hit me like a ton of bricks on about the tenth listen. I knew it was a good release, but after hearing it over and getting familiar with some of the sections, this became one of my favorite all time prog albums. Rod Sowden delivered a fine vocal performance and allowed his emotion to come through to the listener. And it's easy to focus on Sowden's vocals and John Mitchell's brilliant guitar sections, but if you listen carefully, it's Clive Nolan's keyboard work that holds everything together throughout. But that's not to take anything away from Mitchell. The tone of his guitar and the clarity of his solos are amazing. He never feels the need to overdo it at any time. Sometimes less is more, and in this case, he nails it.

The music seems so varied from each track to the next. It never feels repetitive or forced. In fact, this album flows together as good as any I have heard, getting heavy at the proper times and pulling back just as well. At times their wonderful musicianship is on display, at other times its Sowden who delivers goosebump vocal sections. This is also an album that I cannot listen to at different intervals. Each and every listen I feel the need to listen from beginning to end because the synergy as a whole needs to be appreciated with an album like this. The final 4 tracks bring everything together for me. Neo prog rarely gets any better than the 2nd part of this album.

Highlights: Spectre at the Feast, Never Ending Night, Riding the Tide THROUGH Ascension.

In summary, this album makes my top 15 prog albums of all time, not an easy list to crack. But every time I listen to Contagion, my overall mood gets an uplifting feeling because what is contained within this fine musical journey from beginning to end. Wonderfully done! Easily a 5 star release....May prog be with you....

cutsofmeat | 5/5 |


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