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Arena - The Visitor CD (album) cover





4.04 | 671 ratings

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4 stars Arena is rather a prolific band. A studio album every year (and good ones) as well as a great live one clearly indicated that Arena is creative and a great performer on stage. "The Visitor" will not deceive the fans.

The opener has a weird and long intro, but has this powerful Arena sound combined with a very catchy melody. The choir used for the finale adds a special touch to it and makes the song end as it started : weird. But great.

"Pins & Needles" is somewhat light after this. One of the weak tracks of the album (but there will be very few of this type). Arena will rectify this immediately with "Double Vision" and a wonderful guitar play from John. No double feeling about this one : it is a great track with a frenetic finale.

The band has used us in their first two albums to integrate some interlude tracks with the "Help" theme. After "Pins & Needles", one might think that the same happens here, but after sixty-six seconds of aerial and spacey keys, John will again display a fantastic and emotional guitar solo in "Eloa". Just fabulous.

Lots of emotions as well with "The Hanging Tree". Mellowish and almost folkish for almost three minutes, it will turn into a brilliant echo of guitar and keyboards. I think that John has never been so great. Combined with Clive, Arena really has a fantastic pair of musicians. Vocals are very strong as well and one could have been doubtful for their future with Rob's departure after this album. Arena will overcome this, but this is another story..."The Hanging Tree" is a jewel of a song.

After the weak "Blood Red Room", Arena is back and in great shape with "In The Blink of an Eye". A typical Arena track : this band has a very specific sound far to imitate other bands. They have their own style dominated by great keys (I really like Clive, be it with Arena, Pendragon or some other side projects - with Wakeman). Their heavy sound is well highlighted with "The Blink". Another very efficient song.

I have again to come back on the fabulous guitar job during "Tears in the Rain". At times, it reminds me the so emotional play of Latimer (Camel). John really makes the difference here.

The poppy sound of "Enemy Without" is very fresh : catchy chorus, simple structure, great rhythm. As far as rhythm is concerned, "Running From Damascus" is probably the highlight. What a drumming frenzy, my friend. An orgy of keys as well will flank the "Crack in the Ice" theme in the midle of the song.

Although the title track is a good one, it can not compete with the closing numbers from the previous Arena's albums. Great bombastic finale though.

There won't be long epic songs as we are used to on "Visitor" (no "Solomon", no "Fool's Gold " nor "Sirens). But a lot of great songs. Still, the tendancy for these transition tracks (four of which one and a half are made of great guitar moments : "Serenity" and "Eloa") ...

It is a very good album almost all the way through (even if it lasts for about an hour) but not enough for me to justify the masterpiece status. Four stars.

ZowieZiggy | 4/5 |


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