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Arena - Contagion CD (album) cover





4.16 | 602 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars I really like much of Arena's work, and I definitely think they are capable of putting together a masterpiece of progressive rock. Unfortunately, I've been through most of their catalog and haven't found that piece yet, now including Contagion. On the flip side, there's certainly nothing wrong with being a model of consistency, if perhaps not brilliance.

If you don't mind a bit of cheese (and, really, can any of us who really like neo prog say that we don't?) then it would be tough to view this album as less than four stars. Snowden does a very nice job, both in passionate and well-paced delivery ( i.e., not too slow), and with interesting lyrics. Nolan lays it on nice and thick with the keys, and Mitchell brings it all over the top with some awesome guitar work.

Exhibit A: the Painted Man. A catchy, stately theme, and the instrumental break is a great example of Mitchell and Nolan supplementing each other (as opposed to dueling, Petrucci and Rudess style). Exhibit B: This Way Madness Lies (instrumental). Mitchell's guitar has this enormous sound, and he just lets it rip--I just love this guy's feel. In addition--and perhaps more with this album than any of their others--you can actually hear the bass! Not only that, but Salmon is doing some melodic stuff, as opposed to mechanically grinding it out in the low register (as on Immortal, for example).

Overall, probably the most consistent piece from a strikingly consistent band--consistently very good, to boot. Perhaps it's the lack of a Visitor-style climactic ending, the slightly cheesy heaviness of some bits, or something I can't put a finger on, but I'm going to go against my id here and place this just out of masterpiece territory.

Excellent album: A must for those of us who enjoy what Arena has to offer. I'm going to keep hoping for them to crank out a true masterpiece of prog in the future--I know you guys have it in you!

Flucktrot | 4/5 |


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