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Arena - Immortal? CD (album) cover





3.94 | 483 ratings

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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.

Flucktrot | 4/5 |


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