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Arena - Pepper's Ghost CD (album) cover





3.63 | 418 ratings

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2 stars The equivalent of a hammer to the head. While I haven't heard all of Arena's output, I enjoyed The Visitor and Immortal? to some extent. After breaking this one out again, I have concluded this band just is not going to make it for me. Pepper's Ghost sees the band crank up their bombastic side to levels that normal people just simply do not need to endure. The guitar is weilded like a jackhammer through almost the entire production. Clive Nolan's keys are pretty much left in the dust by the constant guitar bursts and runs, which drive the songs along like a freight train instead of taking its rightful place in a Neo-prog band. And speaking of production, this is a murky mess. Think Vapor Trails but not as good (har har). Why a band of this stature can not put out professionally produced albums is a mystery to me. People complain about today's albums sounding too clean but you will be begging for that esoteric sound after this one.

The album is based around a loose concept which if done well, could have produced a nice album. The artwork is cool (it is setup as an actual mini comic book) and the whole idea somewhat inspired. But they just decided to go over the top here. The album does not cross over into metal like a lot of neo bands have been doing lately, but the heaviness is too much for me and the production further spoils the experience.

We have not heard from Arena since this album, released in 2005. Nolan has been off doing his own project, Caamora, and working with Pendragon. I can speculate that this album and the part he played in it (even though credited with some of the writing) may have pushed him away from Arena and put the band on hold. I may be full of it, but the proof is in the pudding (and the over the top guitars). I can't go to three stars in good conscience, so 2 it is.

johnobvious | 2/5 |


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