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Arena - Pepper's Ghost CD (album) cover





3.63 | 417 ratings

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3 stars Oh dear, what went wrong here? That was my basic reaction after hearing Pepper's Ghost for the first time.

It took Arena a little bit longer to release this album making it their 6th studio release in a 10 year span and, up to this point, there seemed to be no decline in the quality of their output which in fact only grew with each consecutive recording. Even thought I loved Contagion I still didn't consider myself a huge Arena follower which meant that I only found out about this release by reading the February 2005 issue of Classic Rock Magazine. In that issue Pepper's Ghost was reviewed by Nick Shilton who gave it a solid 4 star rating while mentioning that the album deserves more attention than it is likely to receive due to his claim that Arena have so far been "largely unheralded and unfairly shunned in the UK".

Needless to say, when even a magazine like Classic Rock acknowledges a lesser known new release by a band that I've been following for a few years I just had to hear this so-called excellent Arena release. It didn't take me long to track down this album but once I did so and heard it for the first time my reaction was quite mixed. At first I thought that these compositions would grow on me but as it stands today my verdict still remains quite uncertain which quite frankly suggests that the album probably wasn't all I expected it to be. Surprisingly enough even The Visitor has managed to grow on me more than this album over the past few years.

What I basically lack are those great compositions that were featured on Immortal? and Contagion. It all gets to a decent start with Bedlam Fayre but what happens in between the opening number and Opera Fanatica is just not on par with the songwriting on previous releases. The album's biggest highlight comes towards the last minutes of Opera Fanatica where I once again can distinguish those mighty sparks of genius but unfortunately the album is over by the time and Arena never gets a proper chance to get back into the saddle.

This is quite a disappointment of an album that barely deserves the good, but non-essential rating that I'm giving it. My only hope is that the band will work things out on their next release.

**** star songs: Bedlam Fayre (6:08) The Eyes Of Lara Moon (4:30) Tantalus (6:51) Opera Fanatica (13:06)

*** star songs: Smoke And Mirrors (4:42) The Shattered Room (9:45) Purgatory Road (7:25)

Rune2000 | 3/5 |


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