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Arena - Immortal? CD (album) cover

IMMORTAL?

Arena

 

Neo-Prog

3.94 | 473 ratings

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Tarcisio Moura
Prog Reviewer
4 stars I had delayed my review on Arena´s Immortal? for several years. The main reason is that it comes after their masterpiece The Visit. And since that album was my introduction to this terrific band, it was only natural that my expectations were very high towards their other releases. Too high, I think, to be fair. After all they had released some fine stuff and I should not judge one´s work comparing to the other. Besides, soon after the recording of The Visitor, the band lost two important members: vocalist Paul Wrightson and bassist John Jowitt (also of IQ and Jadis). While that line up didn´t last too long it showed the band on its finest form. It took me some time to get used to the (finally stable) new personnel.

So although I bought this album a long time ago, it took a long time to actually give it the necessary attention. In fact it only happened after I had listened to Contagion and discovered that this line up could also produce another terrific CD to really overcome my prejudices and go back to Immortal?. And although I still think it is not in the same level as those that come right before and after it, this album is far better than I initially thought. The sound here is considerable heavier than The Visitor and in that field Rob Sowden´s voice fits very well. My main gripe with the album is the fact that, unlike several other reviewers here, I never really liked The Butterfly Man. Nothing´s wrong with this track, I just don´t think it is that great and, in its almost 9 minutes, it drags the CD a bit. To me the best moments are on the album´s second part: Ghost In The Firewall, Climbing The Net and the excellent epic Moviedrome are all top notch stuff. The ending with the slow Friday´s Dream is just perfect.

As usual with things related to Clive Nolan (keyboards), the production is crystal clear, the playing is superb and the arrangements are tasteful. The themes are all quite dark but unlike I initially thought, Immortal? is not a concept album like The Visitor. However, Moviedrome in all its glorious 19+ minutes is a whole concept work on itself. That track alone was worth the price of the CD.

Conclusion: with all my initial reservations, I can say that this CD is an excellent addition to any prog collection. Arena has proved they are a unique and very interesting band. This line up has done some great work and I´m glad to say that Immortal? is among them. It may take a little more time to sink in than their other efforts, but once it does, you´re hooked. Four strong stars.

Tarcisio Moura | 4/5 |

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