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Arena - The Visitor CD (album) cover





4.04 | 674 ratings

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3 stars Arena's The Visitor seems to be the most popular album from this Neo-Prog band but I honestly don't see the appeal here. It's not that I generally dislike Arena since both Immortal? and Contagion are pretty solid releases which paved the way for my unsuccessful exploration of this album.

I realize that my previous comparison might seem unjust since The Visitor features Paul Wrightson on his last studio recording with the band while the next few releases have Rob Sowden on vocal duties. Still it's hardly Wrightson's performance that makes this a lesser release since he does a magnificent job with the material he has at his disposal. I believe that it's the lack of memorable compositions that ultimately brings the overall quality of this release a notch especially when the next two albums showed us how this band can shine once they have the proper songs to back them up.

There are of course a few compositions that do get close to greatness. A Crack In The Ice is a nice opener which unfortunately falls short in comparison to both Chosen and Witch Hunt that are far more memorable. There is a nice transition, half way into the song, to a ballad section but the main melody is just not that good and even when it's repeated on Running From Damascus I get the feeling that Arena could have done a much stronger job with it.

The Hanging Tree is the composition that saves the album's first part from a disaster with its slow pace and nice vocal performance from Paul Wrightson. Remember this performance well because it's not until the album's concluding section that we will hear another composition of such magnitude. Fortunately the last 20 minutes starting with Tears In The Rain get The Visitor back on the right track. The compositions here are trying to play off the previous material as work their way into a strong concept album conclusion.

Even though I can agree with the thought that the climax towards the end is quite strong it just doesn't create the right feelings that I'm used to after hearing a great Neo-Prog concept album. I'm talking about great classics like Marillion's Misplaced Childhood where performances of Childhood End?/White Feather are elevated due to everything that proceeded them. There's just no such performance to talk about on The Visitor so what's left here is just another good, but non-essential album in my music collection.

**** star songs: A Crack In The Ice (7:24) Pins And Needles (2:45) The Hanging Tree (7:08) Blood Red Room (1:47) (Don't Forget To) Breathe (3:39) Tears In The Rain (5:42) Enemy Without (5:05) Running From Damascus (3:44) The Visitor (6:13)

*** star songs: Double Vision (4:24) Elea (2:36) A State Of Grace (3:25) In The Blink Of An Eye (5:28) Serenity (2:09)

Rune2000 | 3/5 |


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