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Arena - Pepper's Ghost CD (album) cover





3.65 | 420 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
4 stars 4.5 stars. Up to this album "Immortal ?" had been my favourite ARENA record, now i'd have to say it's a tie, or a 1a and 1b sort of rating between "Pepper's Ghost" and "Immortal ?". The word that kept coming to mind as I listened to it all of last week was "powerful". This does seem to be more straight forward than any of their others, and it also seems to have far more guitar than the others as well. It's almost like Nolan has stepped back to allow Mitchell to have the spotlight.

"Bedlam Fayre" opens sounding like we're at a fair for 30 seconds before we get hit hard with pounding drums and a full sound. Nolan comes flying in before the vocals arrive. Blistering guitar 2 minutes in that comes and goes throughout the song. Mellotron is beautifully featured as well on this track. A rip roaring opening tune. "Smoke And Mirrors" opens with acoustic guitar from Salmon before a powerful melody arrives.The contrast between light and heavy continues. I love the guitar from Mitchell on this one, especially after 3 minutes. Great song ! "The Shattered Room" opens with the sounds of a music box as fragile vocals come in with synths. This pastoral soundscape is broken by the arrival of pounding drums, organ and guitar. The drumming of Mick Pointer is tremendous on this record. The lighter synths are so inviting along with Sowdens reserved vocals. The guitar 4 minutes in is great, as are the drums and organ that follow. We get a surprise haunting passage 5 1/2 minutes in. The drums are outstanding the rest of the way. Some ripping guitar after 9 minutes to end it.

"The Eyes Of Lara Moon" opens with strummed acoustic guitar as vocals and drums follow. Some heavy guitar before a minute. There is a beautiful section after 2 1/2 minutes. There are some powerful passages in this one. "Tantalus" features piano throughout. I love the guitar 2 1/2 minutes in(the same melody returns),it's so powerful. This contrast continues. Great build up to this as the vocals get passionate. An amazing sound 6 minutes in. "Purgatory Road" opens with very heavy guitar sounds, until it's screaming. A nice powerful sound with the organ leading the way before the vocals arrive. I like the line "I'm here to stay til they supersize the ozone layer." The song ends with an uptempo, feel good vibe. "Opera Fantasia" seems to divide the fans as to their like or dislike of the operatic male and female vocals. Mellotron on this one too. The drums come pounding in 1 1/2 minutes in,with scorching guitar melodies not far behind. Vocals before 3 minutes. The operatic vocals are back 4 1/2 minutes in. A powerful soundscape 6 minutes in with lots of organ.

It's been great listening to this band again, I like their sound. This of course come highly recommended to anyone wanting to check ARENA out. I would suggest to start from the beginning though, as it's all good.

Mellotron Storm | 4/5 |


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