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Arena - Immortal? CD (album) cover





3.94 | 483 ratings

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5 stars Arena's 'Immortal?' comes right after the celebrated 'The Visitor' album and introduces a new vocalist; Rob Sowden. The album is largely overshadowed by other works of the band ('Contagion' became a classic as well), but in retrospect this album might just be one of the best neo progressive records of that era. 'Immortal?' is the first perfectly produced album by the band and the recording sound hasn't aged a bit. The mixture of the modern electronic keyboard sounds by Clive Nolan (who also plays in Pendragon), the buttery heavy guitars of John Mitchel and the unique vocals of Rob Sowden is among my favorite in modern prog history. Dummer Mick Pointer also played on the Marillion debut and bassist Ian Salmon played in Threshold and Shadowland. The vocals of Sowden were a hot topic of debate at the time, whereas former vocalist Paul Wrightson was much loved by the fans of the band. For me he represents the perfect neo prog singer; quite emotive - but not too much like Fish - and capable of fully immersing his performance in the fantasy sci-fi landscapes the band creates.

This album has a tracklist with the much needed variety often lacking on neo-prog albums. 'Chosen' is a dark metal song with intense synths and dark atmospheres. 'Waiting for the Flood' is a nice and gentle melodic balled-type piece. 'The Butterfly Man' represents the best Arena has to offer and it is almost like another 'The Hanging Tree'; heavy prog, melody, great guitar leads, atmospheric vocals and strong lyrics. 'Ghost in the Firewall' is a slow-burning track with lots of great synths and 'Climbing the Net' is a joyful up-tempo neo prog piece. 'Moviedrome' is the band's first twenty minute epic and is leans heavily on the groundwork of Genesis and Marillion; yet it is a great song with many interesting harmonies, instrumental parts and story-line song-writing.

'Immortal?' outshines everything the band recorded after 'Contagion' and 'Live and Life' and in retrospect it is very much a highlight of the neo-progressive genre. Maybe we expected too much back then, when progressive rock had its great revival moment and everything seemed possible.

friso | 5/5 |


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