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





3.47 | 346 ratings

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3 stars A little (wink) intro to this "Arena" album:

"Five years, that's all we've got We've got five years, what a surprise We've got five years, stuck on my eyes We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot Five years, that's all we've got?"

Five years is a bloody long time between two albums. Especially from a band who were rather productive in their early days?

There were apparently some problems to release this work as it was scheduled for release on November 2nd 2011 and was postponed to the 28th of this month. The only way to get it by now, it to witness an Arena concert and buy it on the spot. Not only will you only pay 15?, but you also will purchase the "Special Edition" which includes a DVD of the "making of" the album for this price.

I was lucky enough to witness the first concert of their tour in Verviers on November 4 and therefore I am able to review this work with some kind of anticipation. Actually it was a world première!

To tell you the truth, the DVD is not really awesome. You are brought in a series of interviews starting with Mick (which is the poorest part of it IMHHO). Comes then a close up to the vocal parts which is extremely short and the only one who speaks about it is ?Clive! There are very little words from the new front man indeed.

Some Clive words about the keys, a close up to John's guitar work ... I was kind of surprised to see a poster from the Clash during John Jowitt's interview (this is a superb connection between prog and some othe rmusical genre...wich I like both).

To cut a long story short, the DVD is not really worth as far as I am concerned.

Now, about the music?

I was rather thrilled to listen to this new "Arena" album after their very long hiatus. To top my expectations was rather complicated since their last studio album "Pepper's Ghosts" is my preferred one and reached the 5 stars ranking in my review.which is rarely considered as you might know.

This album is a concept one and covers the last hour of our planet and the first one which starts just after. Rather thin, but OK.

The gig was excellent because there were a mix of old / new songs. When you listen to this new release only (and I have been doing quite often during these last two weeks), I can't help: there are very few points of comparison with their previous releases.

The heavy side of their music is at times present, the melodic side as well ("What If") but I am deeply lacking their emotional angle. This album is a collection of good & crafted songs which starts to be really catchy towards the second part of the album.

The excellent "Trebuchet" holds each of the ingredient that an "Arena" fan can expected: power, melody & strength. As far as I am concerned, the best number is also the longest one: "Catching The Bullet" contains each of the aspect that we love from "Arena" (already depicted). John's guitar is just SUPERB (as he always ought to be).

I was glad to have witnessed their concert at the Spirit of 66 because it was excellent. I could also have a chat with John and Clive and I got my copy of this work signed.

The artwork is extraordinary but very dark and oppressive.

To summarize, don't expect any epic or grandeur here. This album is good. "Arena" never released weak albums as far as I am concerned, but I am a little disappointed with this release. Even if the last track ("The Tinder Box") is one of the best track.

Three stars.

ZowieZiggy | 3/5 |


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