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Arena Contagium album cover
3.14 | 53 ratings | 10 reviews | 13% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. On the Edge of Despair (5:43)
2. The March of Time (7:30)
3. Confrontation (5:33)
4. Special Remix of Salamander (4:45)

Total Time: 23:31

Multimedia Extras:
1. Painted Man Special Video
2. Ghost Vocals, Contagion - The Story
3. Tour Photo Gallery, Lyrics, Contagion Screensaver, Master Tracklist

Line-up / Musicians

- Rob Sowden / vocals
- John Mitchell / guitar and back vocals
- Clive Nolan / keyboards and backing vocals
- Ian Salmon / bass
- Mick Pointer / drums

With 'March of Time Choir': Les Wardle, Chas Allen, Mark English, Paul Bro..., Jon Stralding, Mike Orlev, Olga Otten and Sian Robert

Releases information

CD Verglas VGCD025 (2003, UK)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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ARENA Contagium ratings distribution

(53 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(13%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(26%)
Good, but non-essential (45%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

ARENA Contagium 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
4 stars The final piece in the "Contagion" jigsaw

"Contagium" forms the final part of the "Contagion" saga, complete with instructions on where to insert the tracks from the 2 EPs ("Contagious" and "Contagium)" into the original "Contagion" album.

"On the edge of despair" and "The march of time" are excellent Arena tracks, powerful and melodic. "Confrontation" is one of the band's wonderful instrumental breaks which allows Clive Nolan and John Mitchell a bit more room in which to display their respective Keyboards and guitar talents. The remix of "Salamander" which originally appeared on the "Contagion" album does not enhance the song at all, and could have been avoided.

The EP has good extras for the PC, including a couple of "ghost vocals" sung by John Mitchell and the Clive Nolan written "Contagion" story on which the album's concept is based.

Recommended to complete the "Contagion" package.

Digipak versions of the "Contagion" album included spaces to insert the two EPs, but they are well presented in their own right anyway.

Review by ZowieZiggy

This is the second of two companion mini-albums to complete Arena's main work : the "Contagion" album. Some multimedia gadgets and four musical tracks are featured.

"On the Edge of Despair" belongs to the best of the whole "Contagion" concept. A very inspired and beautiful rock song. Although the intro sounds somewhat hard, it is followed by a passionate and acoustic part during which Rob (again) will be excelent. A very effective Arena song (but they have written a lot, haven't they). The whole song will be a swap of these two parts.

"The March of Time" is very catchy as well. Acoustic and gentle as well as hard and dark. The background vocals at the end of the song are rather hypnotic. Some great guitar and heavy keys for this rather good Arena number.

The structure of this EP is pretty much similar to "Contagious". Two good tracks (although the ones here are really on par with the best ones of the main release), an instrumental ("Confrontation") which features great work from John (his guitar play is almost always very effective) and one remix. The "Salamander" one is also better than "Witch Hunt" on the previous EP (but remixes are almost never my cup of tea).

This work is definitely better than "Contagious" but my conclusion will almost be the same (except for the rating) : this EP is essential for Arena fans and a good complement to "Contagion" but it makes the whole of the "Contagion-Contagious-Contagium" suite, an expensive story (around 30 ? for the whole).

Three stars for this good but not essential work.

Review by Flucktrot
2 stars After thoroughly enjoying Contagion, I knew if there was more material like it, I had to find it. Unfortunately, I definitely reached the point of diminishing returns, as the quality of music is not equal to my investment to obtain it, although it's certainly not bad, to be sure.

Edge of Despair rehashes a melody or two from Contagion, but is mostly a fairly simple power ballad. Good choice leaving this off the main album.

The March of Time is a decent, but largely uninspired, plodder that features some good moments. I do enjoy this lyric: "Keep that smile spread wide across your face, till your head splits in half." Otherwise quite unremarkable.

Confrontation made this worth getting, as it is a nice instrumental with notable work from Nolan (getting good use of the organ, choir effects and other synth varieties). This is good enough quality to have made Contagion.

Decent material, but don't blow your life savings to acquire it!

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JRF/Canterbury, P Metal, Eclectic
3 stars Clive Nolan's original intent for the "Contagion" album from his band ARENA was for it to be a double album with several instrumental tracks appearing at certain points in the album for there to be a smoother flow between the segments that spell out the storyline. But the record label had other ideas and the band was forced to scrap the idea and instead trim the album down to a single disc and with the leftovers created two separate EPs released simultaneously with the "Contagion" album.

There are several head scratchers about this decision of how to release these extras though. First of all instead of releasing one compilation album of the seven extra tracks, they were instead issued on two different releases, one called "Contagious" and this other edition CONTAGIUM which features the three leftover tracks "On The Edge Of Despair," "The March Of Time" and "Confrontation." In addition there is the "Special Remix Of Salamander" which sounds more like a psytrance meets hard rock track with plenty of mellotrons turned up to the max. There are also some multimedia additions that includes a video of "Painted Man," some ghost vocals that tell the story as well as a tour photo gallery and screensaver.

Like on "Contagious," these leftovers are quite decent quality listens but this EP as well has been made quite irrelevant since these leftover tracks found a new home on the 2013 anniversary re-issue called "Contagion Max" which featured all of the extra tracks in their proper place on the album as originally intended in its double disc form. The only track that has never found a new home is the remix of "Salamander" and it is hardly worthy of making this bunch of tracks relevant as the "Contagion Max" places the tracks that matter in their proper context.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nš 299

'Contagium' is an EP of Arena and was released in 2003. It's the second of the two EP's made to complement their fifth studio album 'Contagion' released in the previous year. The other EP is 'Contagious', also released in the same year.

'Contagium' contains four tracks plus a multimedia section. One of the most interesting items from the 'Contagion' live tour merchandising is this EP, a reasonably necessary EP that complements the studio album. It includes three brand new songs 'On The Edge Of Despair', 'The March Of Time' and 'Confrontation', and a new special remix of 'Salamander', a track included on their studio album 'Contagion'. The multimedia section contains some interesting extras: 'Painted Man' special video footage from the 'Contagion' live show, Ghost Vocals featuring John Mitchell, 'Contagion'The Story', Tour Photo Gallery, Lyrics Page, 'Contagion Screensaver' and a Master Track list. As with 'Contagious' EP, it also contains the instructions where must insert the new tracks of the EP, into the original album.

The line up on the EP 'Contagium' is the same line up of the studio album 'Contagion' and the EP 'Contagious'. So, the line up is Rob Sowden (vocals), John Mitchell (backing vocals and guitars), Clive Nolan (backing vocals and keyboards), Ian Salmon (bass) and Mick Pointer (drums). It has also the collaboration of the March of Time Choir with Les Wardle, Chas Allen, Mark English, Paul Brown, Jon Stralding, Mike Orlev, Olga Orlev and Slan Robert.

'Contagious' has four tracks. Arena loves to bring to any album even more special encores, like Maxi's or EP's under the fans. Most of these gifts are made visually appealing, musically but usually modest and important only for the most die hard fans. This is no different with the two EP's of them, 'Contagious' and 'Contagium'. The structure of this EP is pretty much similar to 'Contagious'. This work is better than 'Contagious', but my conclusion will almost be the same.

The first track 'On The Edge Of Despair' is a very good track that sounds to me very familiar as other several themes from the album 'Contagion'. Like with 'I Spy' from their other EP 'Contagious', I sincerely think this is really an excellent track that could be perfectly part of their studio album 'Contagion'. I'm also convinced that 'On The Edge Of Despair' is, without any doubt, the most elaborated and the best track of the whole EP. It uses the same familiar riff of the 'This Way Madness' instrumental of their album 'Contagion', but combines it with semi-acoustic vocal sections. The second track 'The March Of Time' is another excellent track very powerful and melodic in the same line of the previous track. This is a very catchy song magnificently balanced between the acoustic and gentle parts and the electric hardest and darkest parts. It's a very typical Arena song that sounds as a remake of many other songs from the band. However and despite being a great Arena's song with some excellent vocal performance, some great guitar work and beautiful heavy keyboard playing, I really think that it lacks to it some quality and originality to be a great song. The third track 'Confrontation' is another fine instrumental track like so many others we can found on 'Contagion' and 'Contagious'. As the others two previous tracks, this one is quite heavy and bombastic, although it also features a break with acoustic guitar and mellotron. Once more John Mitchell and Clive Nolan plays fine guitar and keyboard parts, throughout the song, showing their great talents and skills. The fourth and last track 'Salamander' is a special remix of an original song taken from their fifth studio album 'Contagion'. Unlike the remix of 'Witch Hunt' on 'Contagious', this new version of 'Salamander' is quite a nice surprise. It perfectly shows that is possible to turn something into a techno track and when remixing the song, the rock style can be maintained and give to song its own identity. For instance, this new version includes completely new riffs and breaks. Still, as happened with 'Witch Hunt', I can't see interest in remix those songs. It seems to be a truly completely useless thing. It could have been avoided too.

Conclusion: As happened with 'Contagious', 'Contagium' is an EP with leftover songs from 'Contagion' plus a remixed song from that album. So, it seems to be made as a complement to 'Contagion', and because of that, is able to make the most of this EP. Probably the right things to do would is following the instructions of the band and hear the album 'Contagion' inserting the four tracks into the EP in the right places. Still, and unlike Easy Livin, I must confess that I didn't have the courage or the patience to do that, as he did. So, my final words about this EP are merely dedicated to the songs in that context. Like 'Contagious', 'Contagium' is an interesting and good EP of Arena. The three new tracks are good extensions of the 'Contagion' album but, in my humble opinion, they're in general less good and less creative than the tracks on that album. In relation to the remix track 'Salamander', it's also, without any doubt, better than the remixed track of 'Contagious', 'Witch Hunt'. Concluding, 'Contagium' is definitely better than 'Contagious' but my conclusion is almost the same. This is a good complement of 'Contagion' and a good companion to 'Contagious' but it's only a very interesting item for Arena fans with some new things to enjoy and explore, really.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

4 stars I agree with the general consensus regarding CONTAGIUM. This is the better of the two EPs consisting of songs that didn't quite fit onto CONTAGION. The songwriting and general memorability of these four songs is a bit stronger then CONTAGIOUS. It isn't better then the CONTAGION album, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#1886161) | Posted by thwok | Saturday, February 17, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 14th January: Arena - Contagium (neo-prog, 2003) I reviewed Contagion last week, so it's quite funny that my spreadsheet is now telling me to cover one of its two bonus EPs, but I suppose I probably last heard them around the same time - about 10 years ago. I always had a strangely hot take that ... (read more)

Report this review (#1080446) | Posted by Gallifrey | Saturday, November 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Arena is a bad that I have tried very hard to get into. I like Pendragon, Galahad, and IQ so I thought I would also enjoy Arena. But it has failed to catch my interest the same way as those other bands. This release has 23 minutes of music including "On the Edge of Despair" and "The March of Time".T ... (read more)

Report this review (#746995) | Posted by mohaveman | Monday, April 30, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I am not fully into why this EP was released. I believe it was a fan thing and a marketing ploy. Which is a fair game by Arena and their record label. What we get here is twenty minutes plus divided on four songs. All four songs are within the Neo-Prog genre. There are some metal, nu-rock and ... (read more)

Report this review (#461252) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Contagium and Contagious are kind of extensions to the brilliant contagion album including remixes of tracks from that album. Salamander gets the treatment on Contagium, but personally I prefer the original version. The EP also contains some great multimedia extras including painted man live v ... (read more)

Report this review (#100258) | Posted by laghtnans | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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