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Arena - Pepper's Ghost CD (album) cover

PEPPER'S GHOST

Arena

 

Neo-Prog

3.60 | 314 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Menswear
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I'll try to be fair towards Pepper's Ghost. Everything is in place and the whole work is superior quality.Some reviews are harsh and negative about it. That's okay, some people will not appreciate a change of season. But if you liked Contagion, and especially Immortal?, you will be pleased to know that the Immortal? format is back, and how. Basically, the biggest fault could be the change of masterplan, but mainly, this is for me the highest quality: this is not Immortal 2 or The Vistor Suite.

As I said the format of many songs not related, as showed on the Immortal? album is on. But on this one, Arena changed a tad their sound, making it less tragic and emotionnal, especially in the vocals. Rob Sowden's voice is more in retreat, not loud and upfront like before. Also many special effects are giving cool telephone distorded souds and more.

The songs are MUCH more dynamic, I'd even say faster, but still are the super catchy hooks choruses that made the reputation of Arena. Because a big part of Contagion was heavy but slowish songs based more on solos or Sowden's impressive vocal chords (bless those babies), some may find this album more 'commercial sounding'. I don't believe that, because the album is taking WAY more time to get into you than the Visitor or Contagion.

Now, many songs are quicker guitar riffs driving the melody, such as Bedlam Fayre, as great example of the new Arena's dynamics. Because even Mick Pointer is drumming much faster and even uses the double pedal to make his sound more metal! Whoo! He gets sooo much better with the time. Did you know he used to design kitchens before?

But the theatrical part is also present on Opera Fanatica. The whole songs rocks solid and carries a great Victorian feeling of tragedy at the theater. As the Victorian period being the concept of the whole thing, take the time to appreciate the innovative ideas showned in the (fantastic) booklet and jewel case. It's like a little comic book with the band represented as super heroes. They all have their particular powers and the way they acquired it is said. Great idea, reminding of the movie 'The Ligue of Extraordinary Gentlemen', that makes the enjoyment higher for fans of the band.

Any fan of Immortal? and Contagion will merry-dance on this album. It's the right amount of new and old. I mean come on, in 7 years, this line-up gave us only premium work. Pepper's Ghost is demanding more time to appreciate. The melodies are more hidden withing the songs, the choruses are taking more time to grow on you and Mitchell's solos are less present. But the core of the project is brillant, taking you to the old Britannia, when Sherlock Holmes and Watson were investigating in London.

You'll feel great about it if you put yourself in the mood of the album. Take the time to let it breathe and grow in you. It's a different approach but I still feel that the logistic of the band had grown and became more mature. A true fan will enjoy I'm sure!

I'm not saying that this record is a masterpiece, but for honest fans of rock music, this should be on your grocery list, and that deserves 4 stars.

"Everything in life is simple deduction! Elementary my dear Dr. Watson..."

Menswear | 4/5 |

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