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Arena - Immortal? CD (album) cover





3.94 | 483 ratings

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4 stars And where will you find Immortality? Kneeling in Misery? Making endless reassurances, lost in naivety? Standing up? Looking up?"

Conjurors hoaxers exploiters killers occultists volunteers? Hatred or love leading you? Submerged in lifelong kudos?

Perhaps you already found it!

Arena is one of my favorite bands. "Immortal?" is the band's fourth full-fledge studio album where there were major changes in the band line-up. Paul Wrightson (lead vocal) who contributed to the band's second and third album plus an EP "The Cry" was replaced by Rob Sowden. John Jowitt (bass) who also served the band at the same albums with Paul was replaced by Ian Salmon. By that time Jowitt was serving three bands including IQ and Jadis. I though at that time it was a tough time to find good bass player or probably John Jowitt was really a great bass player that even three bands required him on board at the same period.

I was lucky that I had a signed copy of the CD by each member of the band because I pre-ordered the album altogether with my colleague neo prog lover who love Arena very much, Bowo Neo. I assumed that the album would be excellent as their critical acclaimed third album "The Visitor" had satisfied my personal taste without any single flaw. I was not wrong at all as the first time I listened to the CD, I was amazed with the opening track "Chosen" (6:20) musically as well as lyrically. For me this track indicates that Arena has changed (a bit) their music direction by inserting some guitar riffs that remind me to the progressive metal genre. The track is truly awesome and mind- boggling from start to end with powerful opening dominated by drum. Rob's voice fits perfectly with Arena's music even though he has less power compared to Paul. But he's a good prog singer. Lyrically I like how uplifting some segments in the track are. Something like "Freedom of speech - But we have no voice. Freedom of spirit - But we have no choice. Given no help - To meet these demands. Given no help - It's out of our hands".

"Waiting For The Flood" (5:52) is for me like a ballad with an excellent melody. Acoustic guitar by John Mitchell predominantly plays critical role to form the musical textures of this track. "The Butterfly Man" (8:56) is truly a killing track with its very nice melody, neat arrangement and practically flawless performance. The song starst with a combination of acoustic guitar and keyboard that accompanies lead vocal singing in an ambient style. What a killing intro part! Not only that, the music is composed considering great harmony and smooth flow from one part to another so that the listeners don't feel abrupt changes in style and / or tempo. The guitar solo that spans across the song is truly a stunning neo progressive guitar work. Bravo Mitchell!! You have created such wonderful notes and chords that killed me really! Clive Nolan's keyboard is also a pivotal part of the composition. Awesome!

"Ghost In The Firewall" (4:55) is composed similar with the nuance of the band's third album "The Visitor" especially on the keyboard sounds that we can hear at the background combined with drumbeats. When the music enters chorus "Oh - like the ghost in the firewall .. etc" it's exactly the part that lend a style from "The Visitor" album and has become the band's musical trade mark, I think. While the next track "Climbing The Net" (4:40) reminds me the music style of the bands first album "Songs from the Lions Cage". It's an excellent track with great combination of keyboard and guitar work. Amazing harmony.

Looking at the duration, "Moviedrome" (19:43) is an epic even though there is no such indication in the sleeve that it's an epic with multi parts. The song contains many styles that blends the beauty of neo progressive music with some influences of progressive metal and symphonic music. The nicest thing about this song is the cohesiveness of the composition as this song delivers excellent harmonies resulting from all instruments and vocals plus nice melody the song brings to the listeners. The solo parts for guitar and also keyboard are all excellent. I think it's a rewarding experience listening this track - especially if you listen to this album while sipping a cup of coffee and reading the sleeve notes. Oh .. what a life! Comfortably numb man .!!!

The album concludes nicely with "Friday's Dream" (4:44) which uses acoustic guitar as main rhythm as well as major instrument that determines the overall style of the music. There is also electric guitar solo mixed thinly at the background.

Overall, this album is an excellent addition to any prog collection. I prefer this album much more than Marillion's "Brave" which most people mention that it's the best album of Hogarth's era Marillion. Even though both of them are excellent. For neo progressive lovers who like cool prog music with symphonic touch, Immortal? Is probably the best choice. I dare to offer this album even to non prog lovers because it's very accessible. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Gatot | 4/5 |


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