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Arena Pride album cover
3.65 | 384 ratings | 34 reviews | 16% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Welcome to the Cage (4:14)
2. Crying for Help V (2:33)
3. Empire of a Thousand Days (9:34)
4. Crying for Help VI (2:53)
5. Medusa (4:28)
6. Crying for Help VII (3:04)
7. Fool's Gold (9:37)
8. Crying for Help VIII (5:12)
9. Sirens (13:42)

Total Time 55:17

Line-up / Musicians

- Paul Wrightson / vocals
- Keith More / guitars, backing vocals
- Clive Nolan / keyboards, backing vocals, engineer & producer
- John Jowitt / bass, backing vocals
- Mick Pointer / drums, backing vocals

Releases information

Artwork: Salli G

CD Verglas Music ‎- VGCD004 (1996, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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ARENA Pride ratings distribution

(384 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(16%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (6%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

ARENA Pride reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars The Pride enters the Arena

I bought this album after I had heard Arena's subsequent albums "The visitor" and "Immortal?" Almost inevitably, it is not quite up to the standard of these albums, which were a natural development of the band's music. That said, I suspect if I had heard this album before those, I would have considered it innovative and inspired.

There are some great tracks. "Medusa", "Fool's gold" and "Sirens" all more than hint at what was to come, and stand up well in their own right. The neo-prog sound, Clive Nolan's complex layers of keyboards, and (although John Mitchell had yet to arrive), the fine guitar work are all already there. The song structures are often complex with regular changes of time and atmosphere.

The album includes further "Crying for help" interludes, which were later grouped together on "The cry" EP.

If there is a slight weakness, it is in the song writing. For me the songs are generally not as strong as those which came later. It's all relative though, and this is a very good album.

Review by loserboy
4 stars ARENA have certainly received a lot of attention since their inception and deserve all of this exposure. Fans of IQ and MARILLION will certainly appreciate this band. ARENA deliver some exceptionally strong neo-prog moments and build some very strong songs which never get too synthy or neo-proggy for my liking. The vocals are very strong and although they seem to be searching at times they land in the right place for me. The pattented keyboard work of Cive NOLAN is unmistakeable and very strong..
Review by Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Here is strong second ARENA album with quite an eerie feel to it. "Welcome to the Cage" opens the CD with a fast tempo, some bombastic arrangements and a heartfelt delivery by vocalist Paul Wrightson - a perfect opener on concert nights. The album also contains some slow, delicate instrumentals such as the recurring "Crying for Help" theme, but mostly showcases ARENA at their most dramatic: the multi-layered "Empire of a Thousand Days", the simple but catchy "Medusa", the zany "Fool's Gold" whose flavour reminds me a bit of "Jericho" and last but not least, the almost 14-minute epic "Sirens". The whole thing is very convincing, the vocals gripping and the music, as usual, magnificent.
Review by Menswear
4 stars Better than everything Néo-prog has to offer.

When it comes to fusion of hard rock and prog, we use the term Néo-progressive rock. A new generation, as if progressive rock went new-wave. Plastic Yamaha keyboards in front, this sort of music will irritate deeply the listener looking for a challenge or new horizons. This is familiar ground, the emphasis is of course on the bling-bling, the catchyness of the songs. The ones who entertains the most AND bores the less wins. Unfortunetly, Marillion became a role model in this musical section, making the market invaded with clones of the Scottish sensation.

Could Arena be one of them?

Yes and no. At first, Arena really targetted on improving the concept developped by Marillion. They did actually, pretty well indeed. They ALWAYS had quality product, there is basically no weak Arena album. No jokes dudes. Nolan and Pointer, later joined by Mitchell, fueled on past experiences (Marillion, Pendragon, Shadowland) and go out the best of their talents to create the mighty machine that is Arena. Later with the Visitor album, Arena gained in originality...

Anyway, there is more good than bad in Pride. The bad would be Wrighton's voice, a nasty rip-off of Fish's vocals. And this is such a good cloning! Anyway, beyond this, the writing go higher in complexity and enjoyment. I mean, they don't abuse of their super catchy choruses so the songs stays fresh!

One last thing, in my amazement I must say that Clive Nolan SHOULD compose soundtracks for video games because, dude, he has amazing talent with the keys to create simple, touching and incredibly catchy little interludes (crying for help suite). Games like Final Fantasy and other Role Playing Games should ring a ding ding at Nolan's place!!

Rock on England.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. ARENA continue on the same path as their debut "Songs From The Lion's Cage". Although the new vocalist makes this album feel less like a lost MARILLION record.

"Welcome To The Cage" is an uptempo song with lots of keys and guitars. I really like Paul Wrightson's vocals. "Crying For Help V" is a continuation of the first four "Crying For Help" songs from "Songs From the Lion's Cage". It's a beautiful instrumental with light keys and flute. "Empire Of A Thousand Days" features mellotron courtesy of Clive Nolan, and some soaring guitar at the 7 minute mark, the song is better from here on.

"Crying For Help VI" is another instrumental with a GENESIS feel to it. "Medusa" is a good song with mellotron and wailing guitars throughout. "Crying For Help VII" is a lament with vocals only. This song and "Fool's Gold" are pretty average in my opinion. "Crying For Help VIII" features dark and ominous synths with female opera style vocals. "Sirens" is the best song in my opinion, it's fantastic ! There is a Gilmour-like guitar melody that comes and goes, as the mellotron waves roll. Then we get riffs in the form of the guitar and drums, with a keyboard melody over the top of it.

ARENA's second record doesn't stack up to what was to come, but I still recommend this, it's quite good.

Review by evenless
4 stars Worthy follow-up to their wonderful debut album!

Funny thing is that the opening track on Pride is "Welcome to the Cage". I would have rather expected this track to be on their debut album Songs From The Lion's Cage , but hey. maybe it was meant to be that way!

Why would I say this? Well, it looks like maybe Songs From The Lion's Cage and Pride should have been only one (double disc) album. Why? The answer is quite simple: On Songs From The Lion's Cage we have the tracks Crying For Help I through IV and on Pride we find the tracks Crying For Help V through VIII.

The fist thing we notice is on Pride lead singer Paul Wrightson took over from John Carson. Not really too much noticeable, since John Carson's voice also really fit ARENA, but I personally find Paul Wrightson's singing even better! He still is my favourite ARENA vocalist.

The second thing we notice is that Pride is quite a bit heavier that its predecessor. With the lack of the slower and spaceyer tracks one could say that there is less variation on Pride , but it certainly doesn't feel that way. Pride is a very strong album with top notch musicians and Paul proves to be a great singer. My favourite tracks of this album would probably be Medusa and the over 13 minute epic Sirens.

Conclusion; a "must have" for any ARENA fan and a "should have" for anyone who likes MARILLION, PENDRAGON and/or IQ.

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars You'll have to be very careful with this album. If you do not pay attention, you might think you are listening to their first one : "Songs From The Lion's Cage".

Arena develops further the "Crying For Help" concept. Some of these interludes were nice on their debut album, but I do not feel useful to repeat the concept once again. Maybe they should have produced a double album at once. The album opens on "Welcome to the Cage...". Is this another album ? Actually this track is a very good one. Full of rhythm, somewhat poppy. A good opener by all means.

Now, as far as the "Cryings" are concerned : "V" is my preferred one. A subtle piano oriented interlude. Very peaceful my friend. "VI", sounds medieval at start, then again a nice acoustic part makes it more bearable. "VII" is absolutely boring. Wringston singing a cappella all the way through. Maybe good for a scout camp. "VIII" is a monotone and spacey number. A nice choir will raise the level of this part. The second best "Crying" here.

Three long numbers will perpetrate the tradition. Arena will be known for his nice long piece of music. But on this one no such thing as "Out Of The Wilderness" nor "Solomon", unfortunately.

On this album, we'll have to live with some rather heavy numbers like "Empire of a Thousand Days" which almost starts as "Run Like Hell" (Floyd). Vocal parts will add some variety. A very good guitar break towards the end and the vocal parts make this track probably one of the best ones of the album.

"Fool's Gold" shows a lot of similarities with "The Knife". A strong and powerful rock number. It won't be as violent as "The Knife" throughout its lenght, but it is a good song as well. Great guitar work (almost symphonic).

The only outstanding piece of music is, IMO, the closing number "Sirens". Complex number, featuring lots of tempo changes. Nice keys and great rhythmic section. Finally a great number (the longest one). At times, it sounds almost as "The Apocalypse" from "Supper's Ready". Great musicianship and almost bombastic from start to finish. A great Arena track with a strong finale.

I was a bit disappointed to listen to this album after their first and very encouraging one. "Pride" is IMO, just a repetition of their debut effort. Fortunately there will be a song like "Sirens" to save this album from being rather average. Three stars.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In just one year-time Arena had to face the departure of bassist Cliff Orsi and excellent singer John Carson along with the procedure of making a new album.To fill the holes the band hired Paul Wrightson behind the microphone and experienced bassist John Jowitt from IQ and Jadis.The new line-up recorded and released ''Pride'' in 2004 on the longtime Arena following label Verglas.

With so many things and changes going on in such a short time,it would be a miracle for the band to return with another masterpiece.But again ''Pride'' stands well among other great neo prog releases.The sound now is slightly heavier,while Wrightson's voice is more strong and aggressive than Carson's,yet very suitable to the new sound.Five normal tracks are connected with four bridges,entitled ''''Crying for help'',which are very soft compared to other tracks,having almost a pastoral symphonic sound.The overall style remains in the neo/symphonic field with grandiose keyboards by Nolan,good guitar solos by More,changing moods and haunting atmospheres.However the album lacks in coherence,''Medusa'' is an all-time classic neo prog hymn,followed by the totally flat and uninteresting a capella bridge ''Crying for Help VII''.These dead flows make the album less attractive compared to the masterful ''Songs from the lions cage''.

Despite its light disadvantages,many bands would be really proud of even reaching the atmosphere of ''Pride'' and so the album comes strongly recommended to every neo/symphonic buff...3.5 stars

Review by progrules
3 stars At the beginning of this bands existence I was already a fan, so after their debut I was anxious for their successor. When it was there and I gave it a few listens I have to say it gave me a feeling of Deja Vu and that wasn't just because of the (poor) Cry tracks. This was actually a copy of their debut just with some difference in the songs.

I mean Solomon was very comparable to Sirens. The successors of Vally of the Kings and Out of the Wilderness are Fool's Gold and Empire of a thousand days. And even the shorter songs are clear replacements. And I will be silent about the Cry (see my review on that album). Arena must have thought: why change a winning concept ? In fact I didn't really mind because I liked their debut so what could be wrong with a second one of the same sort ? It's just not very original and creative.

Sirens is one this one my favourite track. It even has the same build up as Solomon, also with a great instrumental passage in the middle. I can't get enough of this type of songs. The other two longer ones are again very good. It's just the shorter ones that are less and the Cry tracks are even worse than on their debut.

So instead of 4 stars I have to limit it to 3 stars this time (3.25).

Review by The Crow
3 stars My least favourite Arena album... But with a pair of memorable moments!

The style of the album clearly follows the previous and excellent Songs from the Lion's Cage... Some long and epic tracks, are mixed up with shorter ones and the Crying for Help interludes. So if you have heard the first Arena album, this second one is not really different. Maybe the most important difference is the addition of the vocalist Paul Wrightson... But his voice sounds not so well like in the later The Visitor. Maybe that's strange, but I miss the original singer John Carson in Pride. Wrightson has more personality and his voice is powerful, but I really liked the Carson's work in Songs..., so being Pride very similar in style and sound, I think this songs would have been better with his voice. But Wrightson makes a good performance anyway, like in the very vocal oriented Medusa, and the a capella track Crying for Help VII.

The new bassist, John Jowitt (who also plays in IQ...), makes also a good work... So, where is my problem with this album? Just the songwriting. The songs are not so brilliant like in the previous work... Only Sirens is really in the same level. The rest is not so catchy, and the vocal melodies are not so epic like in Songs form the Lion's Cage. And the Crying for Help thing is a bit boring here... Specially the silly ambiental song Crying for Help VIII.

But like I said before, the album is far from being bad... Clive Nolan makes a pretty enjoyable work, as usual, and Keith More is also a competent guitarist, making again a variated and deep work... You have only to hear the bluesy guitar solo in the beginning of Sirens. So I think every Arena's fan, and neo- prog lover, will find enough worthy moments in Pride.

Best tracks: Welcome to the Cage (very apropiated opening: catchy, fast, with very nice keyboard melodies and an outstanding guitar solo), Medusa (I specially like the verses...), Crying for Help VII (curious a capella track...) and of course, Sirens (the best track of the album... And the only long ones wich is really remarkable)

Conclusion: not as good as Songs from the Lions's Cage... But still enjoyable. I miss the John Carson's voice, because I think his voice is better for this kind of songs, and I find the long tracks a bit boring, with the exception of the great Sirens. Nevertheless, this is a very good album, wich every Arena's fan should hear. But if you are not into the career of this great band, I recommend you to start with another album, because Pride is their weakest efforth in my opinion.

My rating: ***1/2

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Any of Arena's first three albums is the right way to get started with the band, especially the first two: "Pride" was my introduction to Arena, the first album with Paul Wrigthson as lead singer and John Jowitt as bassist. So, the first song I ever heard of Arena featured the best singer the band ever had and a solid rhythm section secured by the presence of the ever functional and powerful John Jowitt. 'Welcome to the Cage' is a catchy song that somehow rings distant bells to Marillion's 'Market Square Heroes' and Pendragon's 'Higher Circles', which shouldn't be considered an offense given the backgrounds from which Arena's main men come from. The melodic lines flow energetically and captivatingly through the track's obviously catchy intention. A more elaborate set of arrangements and moods can be traced in 'Empire of a Thousand Days', regarding the standards of musical ambition and variation usually set for long prog songs. This mini-epic reinforces the idea of the band having met a solid rhythmic basis and the perfect vocalist for the tales of grandeur, drama and passion delivered in the lyrics. Stuck between the two is one of Nolan's most beautiful compositions ever, 'Crying for Help V' (I think I prefer the titles appeared on "The Cry", but well, that's another story): this multi-keyboard exercise on Baroque-like classicism is a beauty of melody and harmony, maybe collaterally verging on the new-age trend, but essentially symphonic in a Wakeman-meets-Bardens sort of way. 'Crying for Help VI' follows a similar classicist vein, only this time the limelight is shared between the acoustic guitar arpeggios and the keyboard chord progressions - the air of patent sophistication never gets out of hand, thanks to a well-calculated constraint exercised during the piece's development. 'Medusa' is the next song, a prog semi-ballad with slight AOR-ish touches (a-la Turner-era Rainbow): the simplistic yet effective guitar main lines find a perfect complement in the more complex solo that emerges in the middle, while Wrightson powerfully sings this tale of self-inflicted doom. After the a-capella version of 'Crying for Help VII' (I think I prefer the pastoral rendition that appeared on "The Cry") comes one of the two definitive highlights, 'Fool's Gold'. This epic states a similar scheme to that of track 3, but the melodic drive feels more inspired and the overall energy is more properly developed. The eerie, subtle sinister moods of 'Crying for Help VIII' (listening to it in the dark makes you think of sirens as what they really are, killers with fishy bodies and scary bright eyes) serve as a convenient preparation for the closing track, the other highlight, 'Sirens': this has to be one of the Top 5 Arena songs, a marvelous epic that alternates romantic ambiences, mysterious nuances and bombastic moods with polished fluidity, building a sense of unity through the ongoing shifts. This is the kind of climatic creativity that the neo movement always aspired to, and this Arena track from the 90s exemplifies it perfectly. What a finale for this great album! I'm aware that the band's debut album usually surpasses this one in polls undertaken by Arena fans, but I think that this album is the best of their pre-"The Visitor" era. As much respect as a I keep for Nolan, Pointer and co, my favorite Arena age is the one that starts with this album and ends with "The Visitor". 3.75 stars for this one.
Review by Tarcisio Moura
4 stars I had a hard time with this album, since I bought it right after I had fell in love with Arena when I heard their brilliant The Visitor CD. There´s the problem when you start by an artist´s masterpiece: their previous effords usually sound inferior. It took a long, long time to finally appreciate Pride for its own right. Even their astonishing debut Songs From The Lion´s Cage did not get my full atention at the time either, for the same reason. Anyway, they both are excellent works, even if different from their latter and more personal sound.

Pride was the follower of the band´s debut, an year before. Although the first to feature singer Paul Wrightson and bassist John Jowitt (IQ, Jadis) it kind of disappointed fans because the songs were basicly more of the same and the songwriting this time was not so strong. Which doesn´t mean they were not very good. In fact, the album includes what is generally considered to be their best epic ever, the 13+ minutes opus Sirens. That track alone is worth the price of the CD, but since it was put last in the tracklist, not too many people notice at the time how strong and powerful this song was (and a hint of things to come). Besides, there were another excellent stuff here like Empire Of The Thousand Days and Medusa. The playing is also terrific: Clive Nolan´s stunning ´wall´ of keyboards sounds never fails to impress, Keith More´s guitar is highly emotional and melodic, Jowitt is one of prog´s best bass players and Wrightson proves why he is considered Arena´s best remembered vocalist (even though he sings too much like Fish for his own good).

The problem here seems to be that the songs are not as exceptional as they were on Songs... and the sequence of the tracks could be changed for a better flow of the tunes. Besides, the Cry For Help interludes don´t work so well on Pride as they did on their debut. I guess those small problems contributed a lot for the misplacing of the otherwise excellent set of songs.

In the end I found Pride to be better than I initially thought it was. The `Marillion syndrome´ is again present (it was excusable since Arena did include one ex member of that band and by the fact that Marillion itself resembled nothing of their former glory by that time). But they were already showing they were firmly heading towards their very unique sound and personality. It may not be as remarkable as their previous one, nor a masterpiece of prog music as its follow up, but it was still a strong collection of fine songs. final rating: a little more than 3.5 stars.

A must have to any neo prog fan, and recommended to anyone who likes fine, melodic symphonic prog music.

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion/Canterbury Team
4 stars No help needed.

Pride is the second outing by top tier neo-prog band Arena. For me, this is a tremendous step up from their debut. The song writing, the playing, the atmosphere...more or less everything is enhanced on Pride. The structure of the album is similar to Songs From The Lion's Cage, with two short songs, two fairly long songs, and one epic, with four fairly short "interludes" every other song. (As an aside, I assume this is some sort of sequel or continuation of their debut, but if there is a connecting theme [aside from the Crying For Help songs] I can't detect it.)

The main aspect of this CD is that it is a neo-prog record, through and through. Perhaps a bit more harder edged than the respective bands from the 80's, but not really adding much new to the mix of neo-prog. But, for me, that is no problem at all, as this is a very successful album. The songs have great flow, with strong melodies, and a more than competent instrumental prowess (although it never gets into self indulgence instrumentally). And that is the greatest flaw I find to this album. Most of the main songs have a fairly similar feel and tempo. Medusa and Welcome To The Cage especially seem to fall in this trap. I honestly believe you could switch the music backing for each and the songs would still work. Even the two nine minute songs are fairly similar, even though their length does seem to give them a more standoutish quality (especially Fool's Gold). Sirens does tend to break the mold a bit, adding more of a Floydian feel, in the middle bit especially. However, the Crying For Help songs do tend to break the monotony, taking away the traditional song structures, using a more ambient/floating style that lets the music dictate where the songs go. Thus, the track order certainly plays a role in keeping the listeners interest (for better or worse).

Having said all that, I still don't find this a huge flaw, mostly because the music is still quite enjoyable and engaging. Welcome To The Cage and Fool's Gold are probably my favorites, for piling on the bombast and explosive choruses. Special mention must be maid for Crying For Help VII, a wonderful a capella performance by Paul Wrightson. His voice gets quite emotional, full of that helpless/worried edge/tremble that makes this song stand out amongst the interludes. Mostly though, this album works more as a whole than as individual tracks, which counts as a strong positive in my book.

All in all, this is a damn good neo-prog album, but only that. Pride certainly doesn't set the prog world on fire for it's originality or boundary pushing. What you have here is 55 minutes of excellent mid 90's hard edged neo-prog. No overt complexity or instrumental wankery, just solid song writing and some enjoyable hooks amidst the sea of keyboards and guitar leads. If you are a fan of neo-prog or the stylistic side of prog-rock (perhaps with a slight penchant for hard rock/rock-pop) you should find plenty to enjoy here. If you need more forward looking, challenging music, you probably won't. Still though, a solid 4 star album in my book. Not Arena's best, but quite nice. Recommended.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Arena's followup to Songs From the Lion's Cage is the perfect counterpart to that album - and not just because of the continuing Crying for Help theme or the recurring motifs from the ancient world. With new vocalist Paul Wrightson on fine form and IQ's John Jowitt joining on bass, the band show no sign of slowing down in the face of these lineup changes - indeed, Mick Pointer's drumming shows several signs of improvement. The band's sound also diversifies a little, with more influences from heavier traditions of prog creeping in, which helps the dark and foreboding sound of the compositions. These improvements and changes don't quite elevate Pride into the heavens, but they do make sure Arena continue to be an intriguing band worthy of listeners' attention.
Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
3 stars After their beautiful debut release which put ARENA on the map as worthy successors of Marillion's unique neo-prog sound from the 80s, the band went through a few changes with the loss of both a bassist and a lead singer. Out was Paul Wrightson and in was John Jowitt, who played in Ark, IQ, Jadis and Frost. Vocalist John Carson was also out and Paul Wrightson stepped in as the second vocalist of ARENA's ever changing lineup. The result of these changes gives their second album PRIDE an overall harder edged feel that has a much different sound than the debut album that really could have passed as an 80s Marillion album if you didn't know any better.

From the very first track "Welcome To The Cage" it is clear that the guitar riffs are been sped up, the vocals are more aggressive and the style has a more rough and round the edges approach. We also get a continuation of the "Crying For Help" tracks that alternate between the main tracks. The first one "V" is a nice little melody that reminds me of a lullaby and the rest serve as mood enhancers to properly transition the main tracks, although on this album it feels more forced as they don't always successfully fit in. The rest are all instrumental as well ranging from arpeggiated guitar numbers with a classical Bach type feel "VI" to one that's a cappella "VII" and one that's a great deal ambient with a choir and operatic diva belting out wordless vocals "VIII".

"Empire Of A Thousand Days" and "Fool's Gold" are two of the longer tracks both reaching just over the nine and a half minute mark. The former is a nice classic neo-prog track that incorporates all the expected moody synths, guitar textures and layers of emotional response triggers that makes a really good neo-prog song. The track "Fool's Gold" is another rocker with hyperactive keyboards, borderline prog metal riffing and a bass line that reminds of the classic Marillion sound. A decent high energy performance on this one. "Sirens" is the longest track just under fourteen minutes. This track also takes us on a journey through different moods and emotional soundscapes. IMHO kind of long and doesn't go as many places as i would like.

Overall i'm not as enthralled by this second ARENA release. While there are plenty of beautiful tracks, the consistency isn't as good as what preceded and not even close to what follows. The turbulence of the circumstances in the lineup changes seems to have affected the album as a whole. It sounds to me like the "Crying For Help" tracks fit more with the debut and the others take on the new harder rocking avenue the band was taking. To me they don't flow together as smoothly as they should. Although i really love albums that contrast sounds, such is not the case in the realm of neo-prog where i find a consistency between the tracks to be mandatory in making a cohesive album. This is probably one of my least favorite ARENA album (still haven't heard the last two) but even so there is plenty of good music on this album even if it's not their absolute best. 3.5 rounded down

Review by b_olariu
3 stars 3.5 stars for sure

The second album of this famous neo prog band was issued in 1996 named simply Pride. With a new vocalist Paul Wrightson and a new bassist the well known abong proggers John Jowitt from Jadis and IQ fame Arena did another worthy album in this zone, continuing the same level left on previous album, thier first baby. The musicianship is as expected solid all throughout the album, with some really nice parts. The music is solid rooted in IQ-Marillion style but with with their own twists and turns added in the mix. Pieces like opening Welcome to the cage, one of the tunes played in almost every gig since then, Empire Of A Thousand Day or Medusa show maturity in song writting and aswell confirmed once again that Arena has something to say in this scene , confirming the high level of this band gained in few years. So, to this point, Pride is regarded as one of their best, only The Visitor and few more are in front of this release so far. 3.5 stars, their next one is even better and definatly their mahgnum opus and one of the better neo prog albums ever written The visitor.

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 278

Arena was formed in 1994 by Mick Pointer, the former drummer of Marillion, and Clive Nolan, the former keyboardist of Pendragon. Their debut studo album, "Songs From The Lions Cage" released in 1995, was a very strong neo-prog debut album with some aggressive playing that brought comparisons to Fish-era Marillion and contained some lengthy tracks with long guitar and moog solos. Their next and second studio album "Pride" released in 1996, which built upon the sound the band had begun on their first album and saw them develop away from some of the Marillion's influences.

So, "Pride" is the second studio album of Arena and was released in 1996. It's the first Arena's album to feature vocalist Paul Wrightson and bassist John Jowitt. Paul Wrightson replaced their founder vocalist John Carson and John Jowitt replaced their founder bassist Cliff Orsi. Curiously, both two new band's members, Paul Wrightson and John Jowitt quit the band after the release of their next studio album "The Visitor", but John Jowitt returned to the group in 2011. It's also the last album to feature their founder guitarist Keith More which was replaced by John Mitchell on their next album. So, the line up of the album is Paul Wrightson (vocals), Keith More (backing vocals and guitars), Clive Nolan (backing vocals and keyboards), John Jowitt (backing vocals and bass) and Mick Pointer (backing vocals and drums).

As with "Songs From The Lion's Cage", "Pride" has also nine tracks and all the songs were written by Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer. The first track "Welcome To The Cage?" is an excellent pompous and very catchy rock song with great vocal performance by their new vocalist Paul Wrightson. It has also a great and very fast keyboard work excellently well backed supported also by great guitar and bass works. This is an excellent powerful opener for the album. The second track "Crying For Help V" is a very nice and beautiful song in the same vein of their "Crying For Help" songs of their previous studio album. This is an excellent instrumental song with beautiful keyboards and flute performances that reminds us the medieval times. The third track "Empire Of A Thousand Days" is also a nice and good song. However, it sounds to me a less appellative and a less catch song than the opener of the album. It's an epic song, one of the epics of the album, with very good lyrics and nice guitar and bass works. It represents also a great musical moment on the album. The fourth track "Crying For Help VI" is another instrumental track in the same vein of "Crying For Help V", and it has a very typical Genesis feel. It follows a similar classicist medieval music style, but this time, instead of keyboards and flute we have the song shared between acoustic guitar and keyboards. The fifth track "Medusa" represents one of the two highlights of the album. The other is "Sirens". It follows the same steps of the opening song, being a more standard rock song. It became a classic neo-prog song and one of the songs most played live by the group. The sixth track "Crying For Help VII" is a very simple song only performed with vocals. It's a nice a Capella song very beautifully performed by Paul Wrightson. The seventh track "Fool's Gold" is the second epic song of the album. It's another nice bombastic song with explosive choral work. It states a similar scheme of "Empire Of A Thousand Days" and like it, it's also a less appellative and less catchy track, than the long songs on "Songs From The Lion's Cage", despite being also a very good track. The eighth track "Crying For Help VIII" is a strange and dark song very calm and beautiful, with a kind of a celestial appeal, which serves perfectly as an introduction for their closing musical number. The ninth and last track "Sirens" is the third epic song on the album and represents, without any doubt, the great highlight of the album and it's also one of best tracks ever made by Arena. This is, in reality, a great epic perfect song that alternates calm and romantic musical ambiances with mysterious and bombastic parts. It's a very complex musical number, the longest of all the tracks, featuring many tempo changes and with a very strong finale. This is a great closing track for this album.

Conclusion: "Pride" is the name of the second studio album of Arena, but it could also have been called "Songs From The Lion's Cage, Part II". In reality, "Pride" has the same musical structure of "Songs From The Lion's Cage", with also nine tracks, five long and most complex progressive tracks alternated with four short and less complex tracks. Even the short tracks are still called "Crying For Help" and continue with the same sequence number of the first album. Despite "Pride" be also a great album, it hasn't the same quality level of their debut. While, on "Songs From The Lion's Cage" all the lengthy songs are great, on "Pride" the lengthy songs are less great. "Welcome To The Cage?", "Medusa" and especially "Sirens" are the real highlights of this album. And, the division between the long and most progressive songs and the short and less complex songs persists, and I continue thinking that it wasn't the best option. While I hear both albums, sometimes I feel that if we put the best material of both albums on only a single album, we probably have a masterpiece. Anyway, Arena had already put all in the right place on their debut live album "Welcome To The Stage".

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars I've really struggled to write this review. It's almost impossible to say anything about this album, other than to point the reader squarely back in the direction of whatever I've said about 'songs from the lions cage'. This really is disc 2 of that album, as opposed to a wholly separate ent ... (read more)

Report this review (#800597) | Posted by stranded_starfish | Sunday, August 5, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The second album from Arena and an introduction of some of their best songs. Their very impressive debut album got the scene's attention. This, their follow up did not diminish their reputation. Arena's music is a mix of old classic symphonic prog, commercial pop/rock and neo prog. A perfect c ... (read more)

Report this review (#524691) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Friday, September 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Fabulous! We find here a tres big album of progressive Rock in this year of 1996 needs to say that it is a rare foodstuff keyboards dx9 are formidable, has Marillion. Pride is an album of néo progressive energetic and soft has the time, the true progressive Rock, certain titles(securities) are of ... (read more)

Report this review (#227300) | Posted by Discographia | Friday, July 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Without any doubt, this is a sequel to Songs from the lion's cage, almost like an upgrade of it. The two new band members fit in nicely, Wrightson doing fine work especially. When this album is at its best, there is little traditional Neo prog that can compete. Sirens is as good a mini-epic as y ... (read more)

Report this review (#152994) | Posted by La fraisne | Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Sophomore jinx ? The follow-up to the acclaimed Songs From The Lion's Cage (which I reviewed earlier). This album is "introducing" new singer Paul Wrightson and bassist John Jowitt and it's a smart move from Pointer and Nolan. Unfortunately, the music is less inspired than before, particul ... (read more)

Report this review (#150374) | Posted by rakam | Monday, November 12, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was my first Arena album, and therefore retains a certain standing with me that may not be the general view. Although the songwriting is still formative, it's still good and shows the promise that was to come to fruition on later discs. A fine neo-prog style, ending with a fantastic epic i ... (read more)

Report this review (#111028) | Posted by Wasp | Thursday, February 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Arena's second album Pride is a cotinuation from the debut 'songs from the lions cage' album. Like the former it has five songs linked by crying for help parts V to VIII. Among them is the masterpiece Medusa one of the genre's greatest ever tracks. The Marillionesque sound which was apparent o ... (read more)

Report this review (#100244) | Posted by laghtnans | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I just love listening to the album once in a while... Great vocals, great instrumental, great songs. Crying for help VII is the gem for me, when I first heard it I played it again and again. It just hit a certain nerve for me and it still does, of course the other songs are excellent aswell. I c ... (read more)

Report this review (#96684) | Posted by Pseudonym | Wednesday, November 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars With Pride, Arena ends their first era, one of classic Neo Progressive glory. I will probably always hold the two chapters of this era of the band, Songs from the Lion's Cage and Pride, above all else the band has or will release in the future. That is not to say that I don't enjoy their latte ... (read more)

Report this review (#90194) | Posted by stonebeard | Monday, September 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars It's quite difficult to review this record. It contains great songs, wonderful instrumental themes played by Nolan - and I don't know why it can't fully amuse me. It can be a matter of sound - it's to rough for neo-prog, I think the budget of recording was not to high. Paul Wrightson's voice doe ... (read more)

Report this review (#71582) | Posted by | Friday, March 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This second album of Arena is good, but not like the previous one. This time the idea along the tracks of the album is related to mythology, specially greek. Basically, the band continues the sound of "Songs of the Lions Cage" but if I have to say something, I must tell the sound is ... (read more)

Report this review (#51053) | Posted by incubus | Monday, October 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars After Arena's exceptional debut album, I had high hopes for this one. I was very disappointed. This album lacks the creativity, melodies, emotion, and overall impact of their debut. I have since listened to all of Arena's albums, and Pride is still my least favorite. Try Contagion or The V ... (read more)

Report this review (#968) | Posted by hattrick | Monday, March 7, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Slightly more interesting than their overrated debut. Some more things are happening, though without the necessary musical edge. Paul Wrightson is an improvement over John Carson, yet sounds in the same derivative vein as Fish. Again, the Crying For Help concept does not work due to a lack of ... (read more)

Report this review (#966) | Posted by PROGCOM | Sunday, February 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The second album by Arena is constructed by the same type as the previous one: the tracks nos 2, 4, 6 and 8 are the continuing story of the same old "Crying For Help"-parts, but other 5 compositions are independent musical pieces. And once again I would be glad in case there are no one of thos ... (read more)

Report this review (#967) | Posted by Emperor | Thursday, February 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This record is a bit better than the debut album. It still sounds derivative but it seems than the band is beginning to succeed in making its own sound. The band has at this time another singer, Paul Wrightson, who has a more distinct voice than the original lead singer. His performance is goo ... (read more)

Report this review (#965) | Posted by Prosciutto | Wednesday, January 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This was my introduction to Arena, just another chance encounter in the local music store, atracted by the typical 80's/90's progressive covers, and recognising the names Nolan and Pointer from resp. Pendragon and Marillion (two of my favourite bands at the time). I listened the album at the store, ... (read more)

Report this review (#963) | Posted by tuxon | Wednesday, November 17, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's the best ArenA album for me. Paul Wrightson voice is fantastic, and album is well made so even mr Pointer sounds good:) On this album we have the best Arena hit song - Medusa realy fantastic song withgreat lyrics. Sirens and Empire Of Thousand Days are great too, especialy final part of E ... (read more)

Report this review (#958) | Posted by | Sunday, May 16, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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