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Arena - The Seventh Degree of Separation CD (album) cover





3.47 | 346 ratings

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4 stars Paul Manzi makes an immediate splash as Arena's newly-minted lead singer on this album, opening as it does with a chilling unaccompanied vocal from him before the rest of the band comes crashing in on The Great Escape. It's a moment which sends chills up the spine and immediately makes him stand out, and whilst the musical accompaniment might be comparatively simple - it's fairly straight ahead neo-prog from the more melodic rock, less progressive side of the aisle, with some heavier sounds present - it does provide a compelling spotlight for Manzi's emotive, theatrical vocal style.

From Rapture onwards, a somewhat more varied sound creeps in, the band spreading their wings a touch more and bringing back more of their progressive influences now that Manzi has been given a big spotlight moment to introduce him. John Mitchell's guitar work keeps things heavy, Mick Pointer on drums is joined by John Jowitt on bass to reunite the rhythm section of Pride and The Visitor, and Clive Nolan's keyboard work takes in sound ranging from the 1980s heyday of neo-prog to more modern sounds which help keep things fresh. As is often the case with Arena, this isn't absolutely top-tier classic neo-prog stuff, but it's certainly an entertaining exercise in the genre and worth a listen unless you outright dislike the style.

Warthur | 4/5 |


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