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IMMORTAL?

Arena

Neo-Prog


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Arena Immortal? album cover
3.91 | 332 ratings | 46 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Chosen (6:20)
2. Waiting For The Flood (5:52)
3. The Butterfly Man (8:56)
4. Ghost In The Firewall (4:55)
5. Climbing The Net (4:40)
6. Moviedrome (19:43)
7. Friday's Dream (4:44)

Total Time: 55:18

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Rob Sowden / vocals
- John Mitchell / guitars, backing vocals
- Clive Nolan / keyboards, backing vocals
- Ian Salmon / bass
- Mick Pointer / drums

Releases information

CD InsideOut (IOMACD 2012)
CD Verglas Music VGCD 019 UK

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to SouthSideoftheSky for the last updates
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ARENA Immortal? ratings distribution


3.91
(332 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
28%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
47%
Good, but non-essential (20%)
20%
Collectors/fans only (3%)
3%
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)
2%

ARENA Immortal? reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars An album which will live forever

"Immortal?" (note the question mark!) was the follow up album to the excellent "The visitor", and the first with new vocalist Rob Sowden. Sowden's vocals fit in well with the band's sound, while adding his own distinctive signature.

Wisely, Arena did not try to make "The visitor 2", "Immortal?" being a bit heavier and with 7 unconnected tracks (whereas "The visitor" had substantially more shorter tracks which linked together to for a magnificent whole)..

The stand out track is the 20 minute "Moviedrome", a stunning composition which offers a bleak view of life in the late 20th century, before climaxing with a more optimistic ending. The references to the intrusion of television into our lives ("we let him in and offer no defence) is reminiscent of The Moody Blues references 30+ years earlier on "Days of future past" (cold hearted orb which rules the night, removes the colours from our sight.) The tension builds through the various time changes leading to the glorious finale. Even now after countless plays, I find the track as new and striking as on first hearing.

The other tracks are all superb, with my personal exception of the plodder "Chosen" which I found a bit uninspired, and disappointing as an opening track. That said, the highly atmospheric "The butterfly man" more than compensates, and the closing track "Friday's dream" is a beautiful ballad with an inspirational chorus. As such, it forms the perfect counter to the preceding "Moviedrome".

A fine album which falls neatly into the neo-prog category, Pity about the cover illustration though.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#1042) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 26, 2004

Review by Greger
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars ARENA are one of England's premier progressive bands and now they're back with their fourth studio album. This is the follow-up to their much-appreciated 1998 album "The Visitor". The main men behind ARENA are the keyboard player Clive Nolan (PENDRAGON, SHADOWLAND etc.), the drummer Mick Pointer (ex. MARILLION) and the guitarist John Mitchell.

- The new album are slightly darker, heavier, harder and more aggressive than the previous albums, almost drawing towards heavy metal or prog metal at times. Now and then they're approaching a DREAM THEATER kinda' music. But don't worry, the main part of the album has the typical ARENA sound and music without any bigger surprises, but oh so good.

- For this album they have recruited a new vocalist, Ian Salmon (JANISON EDGE, SHADOWLAND), who sounds almost exactly as the previous vocalist Paul Wrightson. As always, you know that when Clive Nolan is in a band, it's an insurance of high quality compositions and good musicianship. Here you can find highlights such as the opening "Chosen", "Waiting For The Flood" that contains very nice Mellotron playing, the majestic "The Butterfly Man", the melodic "Ghost In The Firewall" and the closing epic +19 minutes masterpiece "Moviedrome". "The Butterfly Man" and "Moviedrome" is two of the best tracks ever recorded in the new millennium.

- The production is close to perfectionism and the magnificent cover is made by artist Hugh Syme (FAITH NO MORE, MEGADETH, RUSH etc.). This is one of the better albums ever recorded by ARENA, perhaps THE BEST, and it's one of the best albums released so far in 2000. Highly recommended to lovers of heavy neo-progressive rock á la IQ and FISH-era MARILLION. Indeed, it's a "Immortal" album!

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Send comments to Greger (BETA) | Report this review (#1040) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars For those who think that Neo-Prog is code for stifle & lifeless synthy prog then you really need to hear "Immortal ?". These guys just keep on getting better as time goes on and "Immortal ?" is a great aggressive neo-prog piece of work. As with many of the ARENA albums we are introduced to new lead singers with "Immortal ?" also revealing new comer Rob Sowden who adds another strong chapter in the lead vocal role. Musically ARENA slides somewhere in the PENDRAGON/MARILLION school of prog but really have found their own sound. This time around ARENA have written a grand magnum opus track "MovieDrome" which clicks in just shy of 20 Mins of pure ear poppin' candy. Instrumentally I would say that ARENA are at their best yet on "Immortal ?" with some great musical melodies and incredible bass/guitar interplay... these guys sound tight. Without a question for me it is Clive Nolan's keyboard work which makes this album even better. Always known for his heavy forboding atmospheres and high skilled digital runs as is on "Immortal ?" with even some Mellotron and organ accents.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#1046) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 18, 2004

Review by Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Immortal?" is harder than any of ARENA's previous material. While "The Visitor" triggered just about every emotion on the human/musical scale, "Immortal?" seems to stir things up more at gut level.

From the opening track with its sounds of buzzing flies, binary drumbeat and raspy whisperings, you know you're in for something wicked. Next comes a delicate piece "Waiting for the Flood", followed by "The Butterfly Man" that opens with eerie piano notes, something like what you'd hear at the start of horror flicks. Although its melody is simple, the overall effect is quite convincing. "Ghost in the Firewall" is another typical spooky, bone-chilling ARENA number with all-round, made-to-measure arrangements. It is followed by the amazing "Climbing the Net" - I keep imagining this song as a prelude to "Ascension" from the "Contagion" album, as if "Ascension" were its logical follow-up.

The pièce de résistance, however, the one which sums up the whole CD - and perhaps ARENA as a musical entity - is the epic "Moviedrome". This one shows the band at their most creative. It's a veritable roller-coaster of explosive musical themes, mood swings and tempo changes. The music is so convincing and true to the theme, it's enough to make Alvin Toffler wish the guys had been around to put his novel 'Future Shock' to music. After such a highly charged number, the album rightfully closes with "Friday's Dream", a most moving yet powerful ballad guaranteed to melt your little progger's heart (I listen to the opening notes and imagine all the Bics lighting up on concert night).

"Immortal?" I wish I were, just so I could hear this type of music forever...

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Send comments to Hibou (BETA) | Report this review (#1047) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 24, 2004

Review by The Prognaut
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Somehow, when listening to a new material produced by musicians from former bands like MARILLION, ASIA and PENDRAGON we can rely in absurd judgments to justify the lack of inventive and progress from inside out the amalgamated band and we're constantly expectative about getting some kind of mixed sounds from those top bands. This is certainly no the case surrounding ARENA.

In spite the old schools these great musicians may have, they definitely didn't take the fast lane to get access to the masses by rapidly composing something sticky and poppy out of the blue to get their attention. I truly believe that before their first production, the ARENA members went through a deep, inner transition that implied several changes like reforming the way the used to play, retaking and adopting brand new proposals from within themselves and most important, not letting be swallowed by the crushing industry which is always hungry to sell and to be consumed by the audiences.

ARENA doesn't resembles any sounds or formulas already done, au contraire, the band established considerable parameters to be adopted by some newly born neo progressive bands. That is more than proved in "Immortal?", not only because of its alternations and arrangements; where the quality of the material is indisputably marvelous, edgy and punchy.

The band clearly experimented several reactions through the entire production of the project, that in the end worked out perfectly. "The Butterfly Man" is the living proof of what I'm trying to point out with these arguments: the intrepid execution of Clive NOLAN behind the keyboards intertwines magnificently with the solid drum strikes of Mick POINTER on drums; a superb work that claims for admiration and deafly applause. The constant interaction performed all the way in this album is amazing, the success was more than foreseen and everything surrounding this production was spotlessly managed. Great stuff!

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Send comments to The Prognaut (BETA) | Report this review (#1048) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars My days of spitting smelly flems over neo-prog is finally over. I just can't believe that I'm actually saying that I do enjoy (a lot) this kind of music. 'But don't be fooled!' an inner voice said. 'Maybe this is a sub-type of neo-prog'. Hmm. So anyway, I checked.

Yep, Arena is different. Almost a style on thier own. It does not sound like the flat Pendragon or the ever tranquil Marillion. We have tremors, we have vocal emotion and also very good writing expressed in catchy keys lines and heavy bass/guitar riffs.

After listening to the superb mini-moog solo in 'Waiting for the Flood' (that sounds like a new Trespass form Genesis), I was really intringued. This record needs a chance. Give it and check after...this is no ordinary stuff. The energy inside 'Chosen', the fairy/pixie grace of 'Waiting for the Flood', the anxious and nervous 'Butterfly Man', the tragic 'Ghost in the Firewall' and 'Moviedrome' as a piece de resistance...do not misjudge the record.

We are officialy far away from the standards of néoprog. Since 1996, Arena quickly exploited the apocalyptic and almost perpetual sorrow of their personnality. And Arena is setting the new standards. Anything under this quality is simply boring or tacky.

Like Contagion, the record is rather negative facing the future. Earth's degradation, environnement fading into a waste disposal site, people always growing towards madness and cruelty, lack of honesty and love....the list goes on. As Fish-era Marillion spoke of self depreciation, divorce and drug slavery, this one fuels up on bone chilling tv news and environnemental catastrophical status checks.

The end of the world has come?

Anxiety spoke in troubled times plus a negative sight for the future...but a REALISTIC one.

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#1050) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Review by maani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Founding Moderator
3 stars This is my first encounter with Arena, and I am torn about how I feel. I very much want to like this album more than I do; yet it simply does not have the "oomph" to be either "excellent" or "essential." / With ex-members of Marillion, Pendragon and Asia, those influences are all in evidence, as are the "sub-influences" of Genesis, Floyd, et al. And the band generally does well in filtering those influences into something interesting, if not exactly new. / "Chosen" opens the album in excellent style, with a nicely crafted, even compelling composition full of heavy symphonic keyboards, great guitar work (both electric and acoustic), and a powerful overall sound reminiscent of the best of Genesis, Marillion, Pendragon et al. (You just know this song sounds incredible in concert...) Unfortunately, nothing that follows lives up to this level of excellence. "Waiting For the Flood" is a decent ballad, but never quite "makes it" (both the lyrics and the vocal approach remind me alot of Fish - though not nearly so good.) "The Butterfly Man" has good structure and nice sectioning, with a few truly wonderful prog bits. "Ghost in the Firewall" is a shameless (but good) nod to Floyd. Opening with a Dark Side-type heartbeat and Floydian effects, it ultimately sounds like a handful of pieces of "The Wall" strung together. (Is FireWALL a clue?...) "Climbing the Net" is the obvious attempt at a "hit," and reminds me a little of "Nothing to Lose" on UK's second album, or one of Genesis' better hits post-ATTWT. "Moviedrome" (which has a very Blade Runner-esque opening) is an extended composition that is maddeningly inconsistent - though it does have three good jams: a serious piece of prog writing at 7:15-8:15; a Floydian jam at 11:15-13:35, with very Gilmour-ish guitar; and a lesser jam at 14:45-17:35, which nevertheless has some very good prog bits. "Friday's Dream" is the better of the two ballads, with a cleaner structure that builds nicely from acoustic guitar to full band. / The musicianship on the album is very good, and the band clearly works together well. They know all the standard prog tricks, and use them to good effect. Sowden's vocals are "appropriate" rather than compelling (much less exciting), and the lyrics are generally utilitarian. (As an aside, I did not fail to notice the large number of faith-based references in the lyrics - something I am finding in quite a few of the neo-neo-prog groups.) / The album is clearly well-crafted, and is definitely quite listenable. However, there is little "compelling" about it, and except for the opening track, very little sticks with you. Still, I like it, and will certainly give other Arena albums a spin.

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Send comments to maani (BETA) | Report this review (#1055) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2005

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3 1/3 stars

One very strong album of this new millenium. This release is a very heavy and symphonic one (I would call it symphonic metal) with a singer that has a great approach to his singing style.

"Chosen" is a very strong dark opener full of symphonic keyboard arrangements and dramatic vocals. "Waiting for the Flood" is a more laid back track with a good usage of mellotrons. "The Butterfly Man" is easily the strongest song of the album, with the best vocals from Sowden, great progressive moments, and those two descending guitar solos! This song is very dark and terrifying. "Ghost In The Firewall" is another sinister, bone- chilling melodic song. "Climbing the Net" is more hopeful, and there is no darkness to be found. It is the poppiest song on the record, but it is not bad. "Moviedrome" is the epic of the album with its great overture, and interesting jams in the second half. And "Friday's Dream" is a nice ballad that start with an acoustic guitar and the band start joining in to end the album.

Highlights : The Butterfly Man, Chosen

Let-downs : Climbing the Net

My Grade : C+

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Posted Sunday, August 14, 2005

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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

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Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Arena are an enigma to me. Some of the music is a little self-indulgent and lightweight when you compare it to other hard hitters within the genre. Yet, there is something about this band I really enjoy. I haven't really heard anything from them that I don't like.

Immortal? is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. It's the first with current vocalist Rob Sowden, and although he doesn't have the range that Wrightson possesses, he still makes for a capable lead vocalist. Musically, this is among their best, although it's a rather short disc. "Chosen" starts off with a Nine Inch Nails like beat, complete with the Reznor-esque deep growls coming in. Then Nolan and company just launch into the song full force. A nice opener.

"Waiting For The Flood" is pretty soft and acoustic, with some gentle guitar work from the incomparable John Mitchell. It almost takes on a "Silent Lucidity" feel.

"The Butterfly Man" proves that Sowden can handle a very sinister tone (i.e. "The Hanging Tree" from The Visitor). Nolan introduces the song with a hypnotic key intro and the song just builds from there.

"Ghost In The Firewall" is another song that begins in a very industrial song. Nolan's synths are especially prevalent and stick out above everything. They almost take on a alien sound...as if you're being spoken to through the speakers.

"Climbing Up The Net" is a bit poppy, but nice keyboard work from Nolan. It's probably the closest thing to an anthem that Arena have ever done. A lot of layers and a nice harmony during the chorus.

Actually, my favorite song on the disc is the 19:43 minute epic, Moviedrome. The low drone of Nolan's synths and the ghostly female vocals add a bit of eeriness to the song. Mitchell exhibits his dexterity on the guitar, as it interplays nicely with the vocals. The finer part of the song is the piano/vocal duet of Nolan and Sowden about 1/2 of the way through, until it's interupted by Mitchell's Gilmour-like solo. Arena handles this epic quite well, and wished they'd explore it more often on their subsequent albums.

The album closes with the soft acoustic "Friday's Dream". A nice way to bring it all together after a powerful epic like "Moviedrome".

Not sure why, but this is becoming a favorite of mine from the Arena discography. It's especially nice for the car and cranked for some odd reason. I think it warrants a 4.25-4.5 star rating.

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Posted Thursday, June 01, 2006

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Arena's first album of the millennium is in my opinion their strongest effort to date from what I have heard from them. There's a nice balance of guitar and keyboards, making more a more neo progressive metal type experience. On this album they decided to go with a non conceptual approach, their last record The Visitor being a rollicking conceptual piece that in the end came off successfully. Also worth mentioning is that Paul Wrightson and John Jowitt were both replaced on this record by Rob Sowden and Ian Salmon. This lineup has remained unchanged until today. Anyway, the songs on this album are a bit longer than The Visitor, with one piece reaching 9 minutes and the near 20 minute piece Moviedrome. In my opinion, this is Arena at the peak of their abilities and the peak of their creativity (at least from what I heard from the group at least).

The album opens with the strong piece Chosen. It begins with percussion that is strangely reminicent of Pink Floyd's Learning to Fly, but in the end it is a significantly heavier piece, with a great chord progression and some nice vocals from Sowden. It opens the album with a bang and the album doesn't really lose that overall atmosphere. Waiting for the Flood begins as an acoustic piece with sprawling arpeggios from Mitchell and a nice underlying bass line from Salmon. The piece doesn't ever get truly heavy, and the gentle acoustic feel is very well conceived and the lush keyboards from Nolan only help create a more soothing atmosphere. The Butterfly Man is one of the longer pieces on the album, clocking in at just about nine minutes. It begins with forboding keyboards from Nolan, who also provides an anxious mellotron performance underneath. Soon, the entire band kicks in with some precise drumming from Pointer and a soaring guitar solo from Mitchell. The piece has a nice sense of flow and progression, as the piece flows from melodic to somber, to rough and agressive in a rather well conceived manner.

Ghost in the Firewall begins with a droning bass beat complimented by a killer drum performance from Pointer, which while simplistic gets the job done very well. The piece is probably the weakest song on the album, with no real sense of evolution or any true invention, but still it isn't a terrible song in the end. Climbing the Net has a majestic feel with a nice Tony Banks esque synth line from Nolan and some precise rhythmic work from Salmon and Pointer. Although it isn't a particularly strong piece, I appreciate the guitar work, which ranges from soaring to very ethereal will well timed volume swells. Moviedrome is the showpiece of the album and will go down in history as one of the great Neo Prog epics. The piece goes through many different emotions and atmospheres, and the links between the varying emotions and the musicianship on this piece is just stunning. From the desolate, ambient intro, to the droning synthesizers around the seventh minute, to the hectic 5/4 sections towards the end (which yield a magnificent Mitchell solo). In the end, a fantastic way to almost bring the album to a close. Friday's Dream is the real closer of the album. It brings the album to an end with a nice acoustic feeling, but in my opinion Moviedrome should have officially ended the album, as it ended on such an epic note.

In the end, this is the best Arena album I've heard yet. It's not a masterpiece, but I really love the magnificently crafted songs and the excellent overall quality and musicianship. Fans of Neo Progressive rock in the vein of IQ, Marillion, and Pendragon won't go wrong with this album and fans of Progressive Metal might enjoy the album's heavier moments. As for me, I think this is an excellent album and it gets a high recommendation from me. 4.5/5.

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Posted Thursday, July 27, 2006

Review by evenless
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars So would "Immortal?" be the next "Visitor"? I'm sure everybody who loved "The Visitor" was sceptically awaiting their forthcoming album "Immortal" in 2000, especially since Paul Wrightson had left the band in 1998 just after having finished their epic album: "The Visitor".

So what can we say about "Immortal?" ? (yes, the double question mark is correct here :-) One thing is that the album sounds a bit heavier than its predecessor. Furthermore Rob Sowden is a very gifted singer as well who's voice blends in quite nice with the sound of the band, however: I honestly do miss Paul Wrightson. I think to some people Paul Wrightson's departure might have recalled similar feelings about Fish leaving Marillion.

Well, so far for the negative note. Furthermore I think ARENA is a highly talented band with (always) very good keyboard player Clive Nolan (PENDRAGON/ AYREON), solid drummer Mick Pointer and always solid and great guitar playing by John Mitchell. Also Ian Salmon does some very nice bass playing. All and all musically it's all ok and as said before, a bit heavier than "The Visitor". Highlights of "Immortal?" definitely are "The Butterfly Man" and the 20 minute epic "Moviedrome". Especially listen to the last 5, mainly instrumental, minutes of this track starting at 14:40. Wow! Great stuff!

The result: I certainly miss Paul Wrightson on board of the ARENA vehicle, but nevertheless ARENA managed to deliver another solid album and show that the band easily takes place between other great Neo-Progressive bands like IQ, MARILLION and PENDRAGON. Not quite as a masterpiece as "The Visitor", yet absolutely worth a 4 star rating.

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Posted Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This certainly exceeded my expectations. Good to see Karl Groom involved as one of the engineers. This would turn out to be the most mellotron laden release of ARENA's catologue with only the last track not using it.

"Chosen" opens with a buzzing noise and percussion of some sort before the riffing and mellotron floods take over. Clive Nolan does such a good job as usual on the keys.This is a fantastic tune and a great way to open the album. "Waiting For The Flood" opens with acoustic guitar and reseved vocals. The chorus features a more upbeat sound with strummed guitar and hopeful lyrics. The mellotron is a nice touch to this beautiful tune."The Butterfly Man" has a good keyboard melody throughout and the vocals are passionate in the chorus. The guitar from Mitchell just soars beautifully and he adds an awesome solo 3 minutes in as well. The song gets heavy with drums and mellotron for a short time before getting back to the main melody.

"Ghost In The Firewall" is an atmospheric tune that reminded me of PINK FLOYD. "Climbing The Net" is an uptempo song that reminded me of the drummer's former band MARILLION. This one doesn't move me like the first three tracks though. "Moviedrome" is almost 20 minutes long and has many twists and turns from the haunting intro to the heavy drums and guitars. There is a good contrast between the mellow and the bombastic passages. And how about Mitchell's guitar playing ! His playing is ear candy ! We also get some good piano melodies from Clive. "Friday's Dream" is a nice ballad with acoustic guitar.

I have to say that Rob Sowden does a tremendous job in his debut with ARENA, his vocals are great and so is "Immortal ?"

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Posted Thursday, January 25, 2007

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars More of the same? Well... yes, but that doesn't prevent "Immortal?" from being entirely engaging and enjoyable-- Arena is just too good at what they do not to love them.

"Immortal?" features another mix of songs with lots of variety with monstrous hooks and melodies, but I found them to be slightly less complex than on "Visitor". Moreover, they do not make quite the impact that some of that album's tracks did. The extended piece "Moviedrome" is an exception to this observation, and showcases the bands talent's nicely; it's easy to see that it occupied most of their efforts in the recording of this album.

Sowden's vocals are perfect for the band's sound, and the group doesn't miss a beat incorporating his inflection and style into their own.

Great from start to finish.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

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Posted Thursday, April 19, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Arena has changed from lead vocalist but the bass player will also be changed. Ian Salmon, who also played in Shadowland (with Clive) comes to replace John Jowitt who will pursue personal projects. In terms of vocals, one already had the opportunity to hear Rob in the acoustic set available on "The Visitor, Revisited".

I have mentioned in my review for this record, that their voices (Paul and Rob's ones) were relatively close to one another to avoid a serious clash of genre. We'll get here the confirmation on this : Rob (who knows John Mitchell already) will do the job prefectly.

I have said that Arena did not make the same mistake as some other great bands did (Marillion in this particular case), in choosing a to different type of singer to be the frontman.

I have to say that I have some problems with this album.

Actually it is of course a good album but most of the songs will lack in something to be really great ones. Nothing such as "Solomon", "Jericho" or "Sirens".

Even the epic "Moviedrome". Almost twenty pleasant minutes of course but it doesn't provide me the same emotions as the tracks I have mentioned earlier. The second part of the song is my preferred one, it starts with a great guitar break, but when compared to the ones we could find on their previous work "The Visitor", it is not enough. It will be followed by a very nice vocal section and we'll finally get a incredible and crazy finale like Arena knows how to produce them.

The opener "Chosen" is a hard, almost heavy song. Very powerful and a classic of their live sets. The keys are particularly effective. The band returns to its harder sounds featured in "Pride".

The contrast with "Waiting For The Flood" is total. This acoustic piece of music is one of the sweetest and lightest that the band has ever produced. I must say though that this side of their work is not the one I prefer. We'll stay in this acoustic mood with the closing number "Friday's Dream". Again a nice song. But far from being unforgetable.

"The Butterfly Man" is probably the best track of this album. It reminds me the grandeur of the fantastic guitar play in "The Visitor". One of the few tracks not dominated by the keys. It almost sounds as a response to the "Crying For Help" songs while here, Rob is asking "Save Me"...It will be buit in a crescendo which is exactly how I love longer tracks. A poignant finale (save me, again) will close this track superbly.

"Ghost In The Firewall" is a very good track as well. Bombastic chorus and imposing mood. Sounds a bit sci-fi and very dark. It has a very simple, yet powerful structure. These two songs are the ones I prefer on this album.

We'll even get a song starting almost like a Genesis one, with a very good keys intro. But this poppy song ("Climbing The Net") might well be the least interesting one. Again, not a bad song. Just average.

There won't be any weak track on this album. Keyboards are invading this album too much to my taste. And boy ! You know that I like Clive a lot, but he is omni-present here.

It also sounds as if Arena is trying to create a patchwork of their previous album in this one : a bit of "The Lions Cage" here ("Moviedrome"), a bit of "Pride there ("Chosen" ), a bit of acoustic stuff as well with "Waiting For The Flood" as well as ""Friday's Dream" to remind their acoustic set from "The Visitor, Revisited" and the fabulous flavour from "The Visitor" for "The Butterfly Man".

This leaves me somewhat confused. Arena is really a band I appreciate very much but I can not get higher as three stars for this album. But am I not only mortal ?

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Posted Sunday, May 20, 2007

Review by Man Overboard
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Take a leap of faith if you want to find out...

In the year 2000, Arena returned to the studio for a polyfold purpose. It had been 2 years since their groundbreaking album The Visitor, and the lineup had changed quite significantly since then. The year prior, a live album including new vocalist Rob Sowden on the first five tracks had been issued, but it was only an acoustic set, and the fans wanted to know how he'd hold up with original material, with the full band. Furthermore, John Jowitt had left the band, being replaced by the incomparable Ian Salmon. It is my opinion that this is the ultimate Arena lineup, making the ultimate Arena songs.

The album opens with 'Chosen', an extremely dark, moody hard rock song with more in common with the underground goth rock scene than the Marillion-esque material Arena fans had previously been accustomed to. From the opening whisper "Take a leap of faith if you want to find out!" from Sowden, you know you're in from something different. Heavy power chords and syncopated drumming flavors the track, while Sowden's dark and dreary proclamations of an alien race drive the song forward, culminating in a mind-blowing polyrhythmic section. Mick Pointer really is at the top of his game, grooving along effortlessly here, with an actual, bonafide -polyrhythm- (!!!) on his percussion, accentuating the other members' melodies and rhythms.

'Waiting For The Flood' allows you to catch your breath, with a soft acoustic song punctuated with Clive Nolan's spacey, melodic keyboards, Pointer's subtle, atmospheric drumming, Ian Salmon's fretless bass, and of course led by John Mitchell's acoustic guitar and Rob Sowden's emotional, gripping voice. The lyrics are dark and apocalyptic, a theme which permeates the entire album. After the gorgeous Mellotron outro, we're treated with...

THE BUTTERFLY MAN! If there were any song that shows that Arena had finally found their niche, this is it. One thing I've always loved about this lineup of Arena is that no man ever puts himself ahead of the music. The opening keyboards from Clive are subtle, but rhythmic and melodic enough to provide a backdrop for Rob's narration; a Bradbury-esque tale of a strange butterfly creature who collects humans as if they were insects. After a few minutes, the rest of the band kicks in full force, having restrained themselves entirely for the previous duration, and delivers the chorus with incredible energy and a bit of a dissonant, uneasy feel, before jumping into one of the best Arena instrumental parts. This 9-minute epic track would serve as the longest running piece of the album, were it not for the 19-minute sidelong piece coming later. Still, this track remains a crowd favorite at Arena shows. The prowess of the band is shown with Pointer playing a simple 4/4 beat while the rest of the band plays within it, syncopating their riffs in several different iterations, as the incredible Mick Pointer accentuates each part with his masterful percussion technique. When it finally climaxes in a slow, singalong chorus, you must feel as if the Butterfly Man could be waiting in the darkest corners of your home, or even your mind, waiting to take you for all eternity.

In keeping with the themes of darkness, paranoia, and xenophobia, the next track, 'Ghost In The Firewall', opens with the sound of a heartbeat, slowly transforming into an electronic buildup; a collage of sounds serving as a backdrop for Sowden's vocals. This track is really a showcase for Clive's incredible compositions and keyboard abilities, with the rest of the band accentuating his soundscapes for the most part, rather than taking the lead themselves. The lyrics themselves deal with an entity in a computer network that has come to life; inspired by science fiction, like so many of Clive's songs. Its powerful chorus is a driving point, along with the passion of Rob Sowden.

Up next we have Climbing The Net, a hopeful anthem. Arena are not all doom and gloom; the lyrics portray an optimism not found in the other tracks, perhaps to give balance. The opening synths remind of Marillion's Garden Party, a reference to Pointer's past career in Marillion, but the song is pure Arena. That is to say, great lyrics, great melodies, excellent development, and leaving you feeling emotions of varying degrees. Personally, this song makes me want to climb onto the roof of my house, stare into the night sky, and enjoy a nice cigarette. John Mitchell has a particular good guitar melody here, very inspired when Nolan adds accentuating harmonization from his synths.

Finally, we reach the epic of the album. I'm going to have to take a star off of the score because of this track alone. It's not a bad track, for sure, but it is probably my least favorite Arena epic, and doesn't flow as perfectly as the rest of the album. It certainly scores high for its many lyrical references to the other tracks (and they said it wasn't a concept album!); it simply doesn't feel like it -had- to be 19 minutes. This is a personal point, though, others may love it dearly. I won't attempt to describe it; rather, judge it for yourself.

The album's finale is a different story. Friday's Dream is one of the best songs that Arena have ever, ever, ever penned. The melodies, the instruments, and the vocals are absolutely perfect in every way, and the song stays in my head for days. I generally listen to it between two and fifteen times before moving on to another album... it's just that good. Sowden's soaring, sensitive vocals are truly gorgeous here, and I think you'll agree.

When you get down to it, this album represents a beginning for Arena: the first studio album with their 'definitive' lineup, and certainly the longest lasting lineup, with 3 studio albums, 2 DVDs, and countless EPs, live albums, and fan club releases to their name. I want so badly to give it 5 stars, for without Moviedrome, it would be a perfect LP-sized album, but I cannot do that, so 4 stars! The beginning of an era of greatness.

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Posted Friday, July 13, 2007

Review by Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Two important things to keep in mind when approaching this album: 1) It will grow on you, so if you don't like it from the start (as I didn't), give it time, and 2) this can be bleak, depressing stuff. The cover shows a grown, overweight man in a diaper bathed in TV glow. That is a vision of the future that I want no part of, but it appears that's part of the message Arena is attempting to convey here. I get it: the mass media and overall public apathy can serve to create an army of lazy, drunken, pathetic slobs. We had best be on our guard. I choose to focus more on the music, which overall is a bit uneven but good.

Chosen, Waiting for the Flood, Ghost in the Firewall, Climbing the Net. Chosen kicks off the album, and the dark mood is set right away, but it has enough variety and instrumental sections to keep my interest. Waiting for the Flood doesn't really work, and the best part sounds eerily like Queensryche's Slient Lucidity, except not as good, which means I really do not appreciate this track much. Ghost in the Firewall has some relatively poignant lyrics for the album theme, but musically it is slow and does little. Climbing the Net has the only "happy" melody on the album, and while well-done, it is not especially memorable or notable.

The Butterfly Man. You can tell a lot of thought went into this track. There's a nice melody, wonderful guitar sequences, and oppressively wonderful synth arrangements. Unfortunately, although the music (arrangements, vocals, etc) attempt to be very deep, it just doesn't quite work, and I can't take it seriously. I don't fear the Butterfly Man, I don't need to be saved from him, and the whole thing is just more than a bit cheesy.

Moviedrome. This is not your typical prog epic. It's herky-jerky, full of teases, stops and starts, and only builds to a moderate finale. All that aside, there is something unique, something I can't quite put my finger on, that has drawn me back so many times until I finally appreciated this for what it is. Here the intended bleak oppression masks the energetic intensity that the rest of the album only partly harnesses. The introduction features a number of orchestrated builds that repeatedly die off, leading to an absolutely gorgeous guitar melody in the middle, to be picked up with a number of alternating guitar and keyboard riffs, building intensity with a fast, backbeat rocker, to conclude with a majestic refrain. It's well-planned, poignant, rewarding stuff, and worth your listening time and effort.

Friday's Dream. An absolutely spellbinding way to end the album. After Movidedrome, this somewhat formulaic, creepy and emotive tune really works.

In a word: bleak. The final two songs really hammer home the overall theme, to great effect. Not quite a masterpiece (a recurring theme with Arena), but certainly inspired, creative, and well-realized stuff.

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Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007

Review by NJprogfan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Finding this disc in a discount section of a record store, I wasn't to sure if it was going to be a good purchase having only their first album, which I thought was decent but not my cup of tea. I took the splunge and can honestly say it compares in the quality of the recording but not in the quality of music. I don't think Sowden has a great singing range. He's relatively flat and in the category of Neo-prog with a heavy dose of singing as opposed to instrumentals, a good singer is a neccesity and on this point the band fails. Lyrically, it's interesting but Snowden doesn't get me involved. So nows it's up to the instrumentals to pull me in and on this note the music is hit or miss with bombastic semi-metal riffery, (Chosen) mixed with some very nice acoustic guitar, (Waiting For The Flood) not doing it for me mainly because it's been done before better by bands like Marillion (Climbing The Net) and IQ (Butterfly Man). "Moviedrome" is the highlight piece and epic on the album and the main reason to purchase the disc, especially if you're a fan of the band and in Neo in particular. It's one of the few tracks that suites Snowden's voice. He attempts a bit of melody to creep into his singing but his annoying fluttering-type warble still rankles me. It's a tad long but has nice bits of keyboard work by Nolan who gets a chance to shine in spots. The album ends with a ballad and fades. A decent album overall, but not one I'd pull out to often. 3 stars for the quality recording and well done playing.

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Posted Saturday, September 15, 2007

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars Another album, another line-up change, but let's hope that this time there can be a long term continuity in Arena's ranks as personally I believe this to be their best album to date. Joining Clive Nolan (keys/vocals), Mick Pointer (drums) and John Mitchell (guitars/vocals) are Rob Sowden (vocals) and Ian Salmon (bass). Ian is already known to those who follow Clive's projects, as he has been in Shadowland since their inception.

Each of the songs works extremely well, although they encompass a myriad of styles. Opener "Chosen" is very much an anthemic rock song, with power chords and soaring keyboards set against delicate vocals. It is one of the rockiest numbers ever undertaken by Arena, almost like a cross between Shadowland and Threshold. Contrast that to the following "Waiting For The Flood", which is all about acoustic guitars and a ballad style which is much more reflective in manner. Ian also uses fretless bass on this, which gives a warmer sound.

I found it very hard to pick a favourite on the album, as they are all so good. While sometimes looking backwards, there is a great impression of moving forward and looking outside of the normal progressive genre for ideas. Talking to Clive yesterday, he was telling me that this has had the most pre-orders of any of their albums and to my ears that is richly deserved. If you are a fan of Arena then this the album you have been waiting for, and if you have yet to discover the delights of the Clive/Mick partnership then now could not be a better time.

Feedback #58, May 2000

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Posted Friday, October 19, 2007

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This album had the tough task to try to top or equal its predecessor, the masterpiece-like The Visitor, to me an almost impossible challenge because The Visitor is their magnum opus. Well, they had to go for next best then and that would be come near it.

The album starts with the pretty fierce Chosen, a good opener (3,5*) followed by the ballad Waiting for the Flood, I personally believe ballads are not Arena's strongest point, I love their epics and they make very good rocking songs or songs with a shining Clive Nolan but ballads, not really. It's nice but that's all (3*). Next up is the first epical song, The Butterfly Man, a bit of a slow song with mysterious mood about it but a very good composition (4,25*). Ghost in the Firewall is another quite slow song but by far not as good as the previous, some interesting keyboard contribution by Nolan (3,25*). Climbing the Net is an accessible song resembling the shorter tracks on their first two albums, a bit retro to their old days more or less, fine track (3,5*). Moviedrome is a terrific epic, not only one of my favourite Arena songs of all time but even one of my all time ever favourites by any band. Speaks for itself that this one gets full score by me (5*). I think this one is even better than Solomon and Sirens, two songs that made me fall in love with this band. Closing track Friday's dream is the second ballad, also not really great just as the previous but slightly better (3,25*).

So that makes an overall average of 3,7, worthy of 4 stars without hesitation.

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Posted Monday, February 04, 2008

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars We're all sucked in!

Released between the two fantastic albums, The Visitor and Contagion, Immortal? is definitely less impressive overall than those two. However, it is still a great album by this brilliant band and there are several songs here that should be considered all time Neo-Prog classics. Immortal? is perhaps a bit more accessible and easier to get into compared to the other albums but it does not have the same degree of staying power.

One of the main attractions of both The Visitor and Contagion were the lyrics that I found profound and reflective. With some exceptions the lyrics of Immortal? are more "worldly", containing line such as 'ghosts in the firewall', 'viruses in the system', 'binary codes', 'TV screens' and (worst of all) 'the rhythm of the fax-machine' (sic!). All this tends to become a bit silly if you ask me, and considering what Clive Nolan and the band produced elsewhere, this is a bit of a letdown for me.

Is the epic Moviedrome is about the "dangers" of television? If it is, isn't that a bit reactionary in the year 2000? The only thing sillier would be to make a concept album about the so called 'millennium bug'! Anyone remember that? "Now is a time of foolish fears", indeed!; "Emotions run high and needless tears are shed"! I honestly don't see any problem whatsoever with television in our lives, but maybe I'm just "the optimist" as the song has it? Or maybe I'm misunderstanding the lyrics? Maybe it is a metaphor for something else entirely? Regardless, this song, though musically exceptional, does not "speak" to me in the way that the entirety of The Visitor and Contagion does, for example.

Having this said, there are some very thoughtful songs here too. The lyrics to The Butterfly Man, Waiting For The Flood and Chosen are more to my taste. The sublime The Butterfly Man is a very existentialist song. It is not about a man collecting butterflies, but about what we might call "the human condition" - "I've been here for so long, Don't even know what my purpose ever was. I don't even know where I belong. Through the years I've been waiting, Even time has lost it's meaning [...] Don't even hope for an end to all of this, I have no choice, but to carry on". Don't all of us feel like that sometimes when we step back from our everyday practices and contemplate the meaning of it all? On my preferred interpretation, the butterfly man is God. But, as with many Arena songs, I can see other interpretations.

Tracks like Chosen, The Butterfly Man and Waiting For The Flood (my personal favourites) are very easy to like and are almost up to the standards set by Arena's best albums. These three songs, together with the beautiful closer, Friday's Dream, are both musically and lyrically the highlights of the album in my opinion. Ghost In The Firewall, Climbing The Net and Moviedrome, though all very good, are slightly less effective.

Immortal? still displays the same excellent musicianship that I have come to expect from Arena, and the amazing guitar work of John Mitchell and the keyboard wizardry of Clive Nolan are brilliant, as usual. This album also introduced new vocalist Rod Sowden and he fills the shoes of Paul Wrightson very well! Sowden would sound even more at home on the next album, Contagion.

Immortal? is a great piece of work and a highly enjoyable album in its own right, even if I prefer several other Arena albums over this one. If you too like other Arena albums, there is no reason whatsoever that you shouldn't immediately get the present album too; I'm very confident that you will enjoy this one very much as well!

Highly recommended addition to any collection that already holds a few Arena albums

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Posted Saturday, July 04, 2009

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars First thing that came on my mind is that "Chosen" starts with some kind of non-so-pleasant sound for me 2:49 starts perfect combination of acoustic guitar playing easy, but strong riff, with drums doing this heavy sound which, connected with overall A. feeling sounds good. Well, it sounds as I want it to be. Of course supported by synths in background. 3:22 there's characteristic sound of Arena's electric guitar performing this solo.

"The Butterfly Man" is one of my two favourite tracks here, guess which one is second (smile). In 0:53-1:13 comes (how-to-name-it?) riff, one of two significant ones here, add 2:09-2:26 and together with first one and softly spoken (just with in exactly same soft way played synth) passages, you have described almost every part of song. Except the lyrics. They're haunting. When you compare sound of this and last track Synth (so little bit ethereal) sounding "Ghost in the Firewall", Pendragon like "Climbing the Net" and somehow different "Friday's Dream" makes nice tracks, easy to listen, but yet quality ones which have one big problem. They're on a bad place in a bad time. In the shadow of 6th track.

"Moviedrome" is strange song. Yeah, I can talk here about story (MovieDRONES go to MovieDROME) which took me a lot time to understand, but I will not. Really, excuses me, but I'll talk about this at "Breakfast at Biarritz" live album, because I heard BaB first and think that there is better version of it, just parts 8:10-10:50 sounds the same. I choose exactly this time, because then one of guitar solos began, unfortunately one of these I don't like too much. Instead of clear sound, it's muted here. I don't like live versions too much, exactly because of this, but here's the situation is reversed. Yeah and solo 11:13-to the end of another solo is also good. Don't take me bad, it's normally good that they don't sound same on album and live version, but here, album one is not so good. But I still like it.

Four stars boys and girls, if last tracks are under influence of Moviedrome, all these two tracks which appears on Biarritz are influenced by BaB. Irony ?

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Posted Friday, August 28, 2009

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Arena - Immortal? (2000)

Arena was the first real progressive rock act I listened to. After I listened Contagion I got my hands on Immortal. First I though some of material was a bit abstract, but soon I discovered this was a very logical neo-progressive record that had much to offer for me.

Chosen is the great opener with a dark opening section that is soon followed by a symphonic keytheme that's rightfully bombastic. Let's get this thing going! Rob Sowdens first vocal line for Arena is impressive and powerfull. He seems to realy give it all! The solo's are very well here and we have better then normal opener for a neo-prog album. Waiting for the flood brings us to an acoustic setting with gentle guitars. The song evolves nicely, but is no real progressive masterpiece. Still enjoyable melodic rock.

The Butterfly man is a track I consider to be among the best Arena creations. A dark low volume opening part with vocals, a dark melodic guitar theme that realy hits it for me and nice lyrics about a dark figure consuming on our very souls. This is devoted prog at it's best, early Marillion fans should be very comfortable listening to it. This is the moment Rob Sowden proves to be a better singer for me, though other's don't agree with me.

Ghost in the Firewall is again a downtempo song, with more synthisizor-like sounds. Some might argue it's a bit to modern and sciencefiction like, still I think it's a great experiment to expand the reportoire of neo-prog band.

Climbing the net is an uptempo neoprogger with some more happy melodies. This is just what we needed after the bit too slow Ghost in the Firewall! A song that has nothing that's realy special but still is highly rewarding.

Then came Moviedrome. This is one of the best and most progressive neo-prog epics ever made. It deserves to be mentioned when talking about tracks like 'Supper's Ready'. A variety of guitar and key parts with different moods, from dark to hopefull and gentle to harsh make this a great track to remind us what prog was all about. I personally find the sci- fi theme to be very succesfull, I get sucked into the story ("We're all succed in, part of the core collective"). The song is about a technical future in which the machine fights againt the human being.

Friday's Dream is a bit out of place here. Though a nice acoustic ballad, this record should have ended with Moviedrome. The Dutch say "water after the wine" and it applies perfectly. They shouldn't have place the song here.That said it isn't a bad song either and may be I might change my mind about it one day.

Conclusion. Well... just good neo-prog with the highlight 'Moviedrome' making up for some weaker moments like 'Ghost in the Firewall'. I love the devoted vocals and the great guitar solo's of John Mitchell, one of the best guitarist to arise from the neoprogscene. Four stars!

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Posted Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars This album was my first Arena-related purchase and a quite enjoyable such!

During this particular period I was highly influenced by Marillion which resulted in me buying every release that I could get a hold of at the time. Once the Marillion well started to dry up in terms of quality a friend of mine recommended me to check out Arena by acknowledging the presence of an ex-Marillion member in its line-up. Although I've never been much of a Mick Pointer fan since his drumming on A Script For Jesters Tear was lackluster at best, I still could not decline this proposition. I said alright and borrowed Immortal? and Songs From The Lion Cage from him. The latter album didn't impress me all that much but I'm glad that I still continued on to Immortal? since it turned out into a much more satisfying experience!

The first noticeable difference had to do with the improved production quality which is completely understandable considering the five year time span between the two releases but it's ultimately the great material that gives this album the upper hand. Chosen is anthem like performance which paves the way nicely for the rest of material. This particular composition may not be all that representative of the album since most of the material here is performed in a much more dramatic manner still it peaked my interest for the next composition and Waiting For The Flood didn't disappoint in that department. Things elevated to a whole different level with the opening of The Butterfly Man and it got even better once the strong melodic chorus pondered it's message right in my receptive brain. I definitely recommend streaming this song here on Prog Archives.

Nearly towards the end of the album we are treated to an epic suite titled Moviedrome which definitely takes a while to get into and although I love the compositions striking ending section I'm still not sure that I like it enough to call it a complete masterpiece. The overall feeling you get after listening to it is non-the-less strong enough to make me want to revisit this 20 minute suite from time to time. The album ends on a sweet stripped down ballad Friday's Dream and it's probably the best way to wind down after a long composition.

This album showed definite signs of maturity from the band which eventually brought forward an even stronger performance with the release of Contagion. Immortal? is non-the-less an excellent album for fans of Symphonic and Neo-Prog.

***** star songs: The Butterfly Man (8:56)

**** star songs: Chosen (6:20) Waiting For The Flood (5:52) Ghost In The Firewall (4:55) Climbing The Net (4:40) Moviedrome (19:43) Friday's Dream (4:44)

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Posted Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Arena entered the new decade, and millennium, with a new vocalist, Rob Sowden, and an altogether heavier sound, but still with their trademark neo prog roots.

As with all Arena albums, the sound is altogether grand, and it has to be said that Sowden's vocals very much suit the heavier direction displayed.

John Mitchell is as good as ever, whilst the bass playing, right from the off, by Ian Salmon is pulsating. Together, they provide an exceptional foil and support to the band's founders and guiding lights Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer.

The opener, Chosen, is quite simply a superb piece of prog metal. Relentless in its pace, and driven along by a strong rhythm section and Nolan's keys, it starts the album off in grand style.

Waiting For The Flood is more recognisably neo prog, with Sowden's vocals extremely reminiscent of Peter Hamill. It features some fantastic acoustic guitar work backing by Mitchell, and I would here also give a big mention to the exceptional production that is evident on this, and, indeed, the whole album. It's all as clear as a bell and a joy to listen to. A very good, powerful, acoustic track.

The Butterfly Man opens with some delicate keyboard work backing more Hamill-esque vocals by Sowden. He really is a dead ringer ? oh well, it is neo prog after all! This is a far more sinister and sombre affair that the two tracks which preceded it, and it is very well performed by all concerned, and you notice, in particular, just how good the musicians are at both creating and producing alternate moods, especially Mitchell in his guitar work. Very dark, and in places, very heavy, this nine minute epic never lets up and always holds the listener's interest.

Ghost In The Firewall has a very alien, almost industrial, feel and sound to it, and this is driven almost exclusively by Clive Nolan's work. It is a huge, grand, and loud piece of symphonic rock, and is executed very well. The chorus is, amongst the machinery, almost an anthemic sing-along.

Climbing the Net is a brighter affair, and is a massive nod to Genesis post Gabriel era around the time of Wind & Wuthering, although it should be pointed out that Sowden is no Collins (some might think that a good thing!), but Nolan's keys are clearly inspired by the Banks work of that period and Mitchell's short, but sweet, bursts by Hackett. Four and a half minutes of guilty pleasure, which, whilst not essential, is not exactly filler either. Simply very good neo prog, and that's why we brought it, right?

The epic on the album is Moviedrome, clocking in at just short of twenty minutes. The metal start to the track is actually a bit misleading, because this is a track of many moods and styles. Metal, pure neo, and symphonic, it features some stunning guitar work by Mitchell. The main driver here, though, as on the bulk of the album, is Nolan, and some of his work is very intricate, but never less than grandiose. Fans of melodic bass playing will enjoy Salmon's contribution immensely, particularly in the mid period quieter section, and this then gives way to the most incredible guitar solo by Mitchell, most clearly inspired by some of Gilmour's later work, and a bombastic keyboard led symphonic pastiche. It ends as it began, with a very heavy section, and it is a very enjoyable track.

The album closes with Friday's Dream, a very soft, uplifting, and pleasant acoustic number, which is the perfect comedown after what preceded it.

Arena are a very important neo prog band, and they entered the new millennium with another very strong album, in spite of yet more line up upheavals.

Four stars for this. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection, and I would also add almost essential for fans of neo prog.

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Posted Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I had delayed my review on Arena´s Immortal? for several years. The main reason is that it comes after their masterpiece The Visit. And since that album was my introduction to this terrific band, it was only natural that my expectations were very high towards their other releases. Too high, I think, to be fair. After all they had released some fine stuff and I should not judge one´s work comparing to the other. Besides, soon after the recording of The Visitor, the band lost two important members: vocalist Paul Wrightson and bassist John Jowitt (also of IQ and Jadis). While that line up didn´t last too long it showed the band on its finest form. It took me some time to get used to the (finally stable) new personnel.

So although I bought this album a long time ago, it took a long time to actually give it the necessary atention. In fact it only happened after I had listened to Contagion and discovered that this line up could also produce another terrific CD to really overcome my prejudices and go back to Immortal?. And although I still think it is not in the same level as those that come right before and after it, this album is far better than I initially thought. The sound here is considerable heavier than The Visitor and in that field Rob Sowden´s voice fits very well. My main gripe with the album is the fact that, unlike several other reviewers here, I never really liked The Butterfly Man. Nothing´s wrong with this track, I just don´t think it is that great and, in its almost 9 minutes, it drags the CDa bit. To me the best moments are on the album´s second part: Ghost In The Firewall, Climbing The Net and the excellent epic Moviedrome are all top notch stuff. The ending with the slow Friday´s Dream is just perfect.

As usual with things related to Clive Nolan (keyboards), the production is crystal clear, the playing is superb and the arrangements are tasteful. The themes are all quite dark but unlike I initially thought, Immortal? is not a concept album like The Visitor. However, Moviedrome in all its glorious 19+ minutes is a whole concept work on itself. That track alone was worth the price of the CD.

Conclusion: with all my initial reservations, I can say that this CD is an excellent addition to any prog colletion. Arena has proved they are a unique and very interesting band. This line up has done some great work and I´m glad to say that Immortal? is among them. It may take a little more time to sink in than their other effords, but once it does, you´re hooked. Four strong stars.

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Posted Monday, January 31, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars On the whole, Immortal is a fairly significant album in the Arena discography. With Rob Sowden joining on vocals, the band had a lineup which would remain stable for their next few albums, and with his extensive songwriting contributions this one John Mitchell demonstrated that in the short space of time since he had joined the band for The Visitor he had become a central member of the group - effectively becoming a third co-leader of the band alongside Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer.

And yet, at the same time, I can't help but feel that there's a little something missing from Immortal - it lacks the extra push which would turn it from an OK neo-prog piece into a really compelling album. The metallic edge which would come to the fore on Contagion hasn't yet fully developed, whilst the band's old neo-prog sound a la The Visitor is beginning to get stale here. It's still worth a listen if you're an Arena fan, but it's far from their best.

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Posted Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Arena's forth album named Immortal from 2000 is another worthy album from their catalogue for sure. With a new member on board Rob Sowden on voice and the keyboard player Cive Nolan from Pentragon and Shadowland fame , Mick Pointer an ex Marillion drumer - Arena took a step forward in their musical adventure with a more heavier and darker aproach then on previous album. The overall sound is much heavier then on The Visitor sometimes sounds like a metalized neo prog album - just to be checked The butterfly man, the best piece of the album to my ears and one of the best Arena pieces, is a total killer song, the guitar is awesome here. Another worthy tune to me is the Climbing The Net with an intro remind me a lot of Marillion early years. The longest track of the album Moviedrome is ok, little to long but for sure has some memorable passages, specially the instrumental sections are great. Overall a decent album, good but hardly essential or excellent. and I don't think is their best album I find The visior being better. 3-3.5 stars.

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Posted Friday, May 25, 2012

Latest members reviews

4 stars When I discovered Arena, at first I was shocked with Songs from the Lion's Cage and The Visitor, two extraordinaries albums, but then I paid attention to Inmortal?, and finally I realized that it is a great album too. In fact, about all the Arena's stuff, these three albums are the best by far ... (read more)

Report this review (#1072946) | Posted by genbanks | Tuesday, November 05, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Arena's fourth studio offering marks the debut of vocalist Rob Sowden, who has a similar voice to his predecessor, maybe sounding a bit less like Fish, and adding a touch of vibrato that fits perfectly with the somber atmosphere of this album. The sound here changes a bit from previous albums, ... (read more)

Report this review (#1068143) | Posted by surrogate people | Monday, October 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If you like your music to speak to your soul in an intimate way, Arena is not for you. This is pure bombast and what some might call pretencious. Even their ballads have over-dramatic vocals. On Immortal, their fourth album, they go for a hybrid of new prog and metal. One might be tempted to c ... (read more)

Report this review (#1004878) | Posted by Progrussia | Wednesday, July 24, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The year 2000 began with the release of this album, which I think is one of the best of the new millennium. I was not very impressed of the previous albums of Arena, it seemed they weren't too imaginative and, above all, in my opinion the voice was very flat. With "Immortal?" the band gave a ... (read more)

Report this review (#436551) | Posted by prog61 | Thursday, April 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Years ago when I first bought this CD, I thought Arena was going through a big change, and the neo prog, ie. gone is the Gabriel-era Genesis or Fish-era Marillion sound that pretty much defined the first few albums, and some harder edge guitar comes into play - thanks to genius guitarist John Mitche ... (read more)

Report this review (#321514) | Posted by terryl | Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is a real change in Arena's style: showing prog metal influences throughout, this updates and invigorates thier sound. Chosen could easily be a Threshold song (and a good one at that), with dynamic riffs and dark lyrical themes. This is a powerful, energetic opener, one of the main re ... (read more)

Report this review (#153001) | Posted by La fraisne | Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I used to love the first track and couldn't really get into the other tracks and now it's the other way around. I don't care for the first track and the rest of it sounds delicious. The 2nd track and on I feel are all equally good. Well, I consider Moviedrome to be an entity of it's own and it ... (read more)

Report this review (#120717) | Posted by jimbrown87 | Friday, May 04, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is another great album from Arena but I feel it fails to reach the hights of the Visitor. The butterfly man is a classic haunting song which stands out, but the rest of the album is not quite as good. This said it is still highest quality music which I love. I don't normally comment on al ... (read more)

Report this review (#100250) | Posted by laghtnans | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Together with THE VISITOR this stays almost permantly in the CD player. Very similar in style to the aforementioned album (hardly surprising), but different enough to appreciate the subtle development of the ARENA sound. Again there is a theme running through the album that culminates in MOV ... (read more)

Report this review (#91744) | Posted by huge | Sunday, September 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Immortal? kicks off with a 80s drum loop accompanying an "Take a leap of faith if you want to find out!" chant from the opening song "Chosen". This rhythm-section driven song is a mid-tempo track that would simply put you to sit tight in your chair (well, it shows clearly through the album cov ... (read more)

Report this review (#79692) | Posted by ydewata | Monday, May 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars My first tate of Arena. Is immortal? any good I hear you all ask. Yes they are! A very solid entry into the Neo Prog genre with influences of Marillion, Genesis and Floyd here. Much better than some bands I've heard, such as Pendragon. A worhtwhile addition to any collection. I can't wait to ... (read more)

Report this review (#41654) | Posted by | Friday, August 05, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Immortal? kicks off with a 80s drum loop accompanying an "Take a leap of faith if you want to find out!" chant from the opening song "Chosen". This rhythm-section driven song is a mid-tempo track that would simply put you to sit tight in your chair (well, it shows clearly through the album cov ... (read more)

Report this review (#37041) | Posted by | Monday, June 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Sonically, Arena goes into higher gear. Immortal? is darker and heavier than its predecessors. It however cannot hide the fact that the compositions are of irregular quality. Powerplay, although great in performance, once again overrules the search for musical depth. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1053) | Posted by PROGCOM | Sunday, February 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Immortal? is again a wonderfull Arena album. I expected a lot from this album, having heard their previous work. And Immortal was everything I hoped for. Immortal sees a continuation of the Arena style, a bit more heavy than The Visitor, sometimes leaning towards prog-metal. Again there is a n ... (read more)

Report this review (#1057) | Posted by tuxon | Saturday, February 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars That's where we have the heaviest album by Arena. I even cannot say exactly what style is it: heavy Progressive or Progressive Metal. Practically the only Climbing The Net hasn't elements of Metal, the rest of the tracks in less or more degree are characterized with the "Metallized accent". An ... (read more)

Report this review (#1054) | Posted by Emperor | Thursday, February 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Before assigning a star rating to an album, you should carefully consider what the differing number of stars stand for. (...) And not every album you enjoy will be a masterpiece." Well this one is! This for me is the culmination of Arena's evolution (Contagion continues that style) this ... (read more)

Report this review (#1049) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 28, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In contrast to The Visitor the drums sound great on this album, a heavier offering with more shorter self contained peices rather than a theme or concept (not one that i can spot anyway) with Moviedrome being the centrepiece. As with The Visitor the guitar playing is trancendental and is by far the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1045) | Posted by Jools | Wednesday, March 10, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is by far the best arena album ever, there is not a bad track from start to finish, which makes it a solid album throughout and worth every penny. The opening track chosen is a nice explosive way to start an album, followed by the lovely accoustics of waiting for the flood. And then by fa ... (read more)

Report this review (#1043) | Posted by | Tuesday, March 02, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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