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Arena - Contagion CD (album) cover





4.16 | 611 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars I don't know how a band can write music that is technically good music, but still somehow comes out terribly uninteresting.

With Contagion, Arena cut down the songs lengths and released a conceptual, flowing album. Something is wrong, though. The songs for the most part do not go anywhere. The music for the most part spins its wheels gently in the thick mud. The production for the most part works but does nothing out of the ordinary. And I think that is the true problem of this release: all the tracks are ordinary. This is little more than a glorified pop rock album. True, every once in a while the band steps out and performs a little bit, but on twelve or thirteen of the tracks, we've got standard to weak music. The vocalist doesn't seem to have much in the way of a unique voice, either. So, while I was really interested in this band due to members of it appearing on Ayreon and Frost* albums, I came away pretty cold from the experience.

I must add that there a couple of good tunes, and one definitely good one. Without these, this album would probably getting only a single star. Painted Man and Skin Game are both interesting songs, with vocal melodies that actually stand apart from the things you'd expect. The really good track is Cutting the Cards, which is the one streamable on this site. From this sample, I figured more of the album would feature that kind of energy and deeper songwriting. Well, it doesn't. Instead, the rest of the album ranges from worse to less interesting when compared to this track. Now, I do suppose that some serious neo-prog fans consider this music really fantastic, and I suppose they are allowed to. But coming from a fan of progressive music who only really asks for creative and original songwriting, Contagion leaves me pretty unimpressed and not very optimistic about the rest of the band's output.

If you love neo-prog or if you love Arena, I'd say go ahead. If you are unfamiliar with the genre or the band, the genre offers better music in IQ or Marillion, while I am unqualified to discuss the rest of the band's catalog at this moment. I must admit, though, that the cover art is something really special on this album, and is the other highlight next to Cutting the Cards.

LiquidEternity | 2/5 |


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