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Arena - Pepper's Ghost CD (album) cover





3.63 | 417 ratings

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3 stars Arena - Pepper's Ghost (2005)

Perhaps not the best most brilliant album, but still a good neo-prog record with all of our beloved characteristics: melodic/adventerious themes, modern electronic sounds, great sounding distorted guitars with echoes and reverb, 'mysterious' atmospheres and of course theatrics in both vocals, lyrics and overall song-writing. Though neo-prog might never be mentioned as our most beloved sub-genre, a band like Arena is for sure one of the better bands on PA (of the 21th century).

On Pepper's Ghost Arena isn't as strong as on the utterly brilliant Contagion, an album with a great amount of ideas and instrumental passages that were pure magic. No, Pepper's Ghost shows the band playing material with less effective material, albeit with high quality.

Opener Bedlam Fayre is a good (but perhaps a bit 'normal') energetic opener with nice use of odd time-signatures. Smoke and Mirrors is a relaxing song with nice smooth melodic themes. The Shattered Room has some nice neo-theatrics in it's opening section and develops itself as a good prog-track, but not all themes are very effective. The Eyes of Lara Moon has a strange couplet theme, not very proggy at all. The rest of the song just doesn't do the trick either. Tentalus also suffers from my indifference towards it's content. Purgatory Road is a better track with a great intro, some nice riffs and some of our beloved neo-prog mysterious themes. Opera Fanatica, the ending track, is the main attraction of this Pepper's Ghost. This thirteen minutes long epic is truly a step forward for the band. A theatrical intro with real opera singers, a dark and heavy main riff with heavy organs (and great guitar sounds), theatrical vocal parts, some of the best of instrumental parts (with a genius 'puppet-dance'-passage)and of course some bombastic symphonic arrangements. It all work really well and it excited me.

Conclusion. Not my favorite Arena album, but still a quality work of neo-progressive rock. Somehow the material is just not that effective, and thus it's hard to call essential. The ending track, Opera Fanatica, is however one of the bands best epics. Three and a halve stars.

friso | 3/5 |


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