Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Arena - The Seventh Degree of Separation CD (album) cover





3.47 | 346 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Arena are a band that I have had some interest in over the years and I have heard their so called best albums "Pepper's Ghost" and "Contagion" but "The Seventh Degree of Separation" is a very different approach to their music. It feels heavier and more distorted in places, the medieval nuances are gone and the new vocalist Paul Manzi is a lot more lower in the register, perhaps more angry sounding, and it is rather a commercial AOR sound overall.

It begins well enough with the Neo metal opener 'The Great Escape' and then gets quite aggressive on 'Rapture' where the riffs are doomier and the lyrics angry with the f bomb thrown in once. 'One Last Au Revoir' has a quick tempo percussion beat and some excellent melodic rock. It is almost like Journey or Boston, quite a commercial sound. Nowhere near as progressive as the past Arena catalogue by any means. The melodies are pleasant though and the musicianship is excellent. John Mitchell 's lead break sounds like traditional metal. The chorus is rather repetitive and it fades.

Next is 'The Ghost Walks' with gloomy low buzzing synth, John Jowitt's bass, and low key vocals over a wonderful lead guitar. The violining guitar is nice, and there are some ominous effects. This is more proggy and Clive Nolan's keyboards add an ambience. The drumming of Mick Pointer is steady.

'Thief Of Souls' begins with piano phrases and melodic vocals; "cry for them, Sometimes death is not fair, mourn for them". There is a concept amidst all these lyrics somewhere but I am not into it. The music is good though, it seems to be getting better as the album progresses. 'Close Your Eyes' is a very commercial top 10 hit, it sounds like it anyway. Just melody on melody and power ballad retro throwback. Followed by darker more enigmatic music with 'Echoes Of The Fall' with great lyrics; "the tick and the tock of the cosmic clock", and finishes with "you can never guess and now its far too late to confess."

A very slow ballad beat is heard on 'Bed Of Nails' but it is not Alice Cooper's classic. It is okay as far as melody goes and has an infectious chorus. 'What If?' is a gentle emotive ballad with finger picking clean guitar intro. Manzi's vocals are very good once again. He nails these ballads that is for sure and the simple time sig is complemented by a stirring lead break. But I am still waiting for something resembling prog.

'Trebuchet' continues the AOR sound, a faster tempo and very melodic sing along chorus. An interesting metal riff, and rhyming phrases; "naked and alone, am I the only one, fading from the world, is this where I begun."

'Burning Down' starts with a low droning and then Manzi's balladic vocals come in; "I can see the falling cinders making ghosts upon the ground." I like the riff that follows reminding me of a Sky Architect riff I heard today. It is a better sound for Arena. Cool lyrics resonate with me; "This place is the story of my life and I see it burning down". I like the break before the next chorus. Actually this is the best track on the album so far undoubtedly. Even the riff is proggy and that keyboard break is terrific. The atmosphere is really eerie; "all signs are gone now of my previous existence, all signs are gone now of my relevant significance, all signs are gone now of my innocence, my childhood, my birth." Excellent!

'Catching The Bullet' keeps things moving with a steady crawling tempo and sustained key pads. The drums are great on this. Manzi's voice comes in and augments the majestic feel; "Standing perhaps at the end of the bed or floating through your dreams, its true I wil be long departed before you decipher what it means." There is a strong soundscape generated with keyboard runs and metal guitar distortion, bass and drums maintaining a steady cadence. The protagonist is about to depart; "this is me signing off." A lengthy and scorching lead break and keyboard chimes over proggy time sigs are signifying more progressive territory, but we are at the end of the album so it's a bit late. However, this is definitely a stellar track and well worth a listen.

'The Tinder Box' closes it down with piano, a ballad tone, Manzi sounding emotional; "I saw the little people working there, in the echoes and the chambers of my mind, and I saw the lantern man as it stood so stil,l and the child knew this gentle soul, his kindess, the light went on and he was gone, but the meaning, the meaning still remained, like the fading away of a sweet familiar taste, like the cleansing of the cool summer rain." the track builds with majestic lourishes and an absolutely brilliant lead guitar throughout the song from Mitchell. "We're a spark from the Tinder Box" is the harmony that is repeated leading to the finale. It even states it is "The End".

Overall, this is a pleasant sounding soft metal commercial album, not very Neo and not very prog, but it is okay as a diversion from intricate time sigs and creativity because Arena are not in that league with this release.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this ARENA review

Social review comments () BETA

Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.