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Arena - The Visitor CD (album) cover





4.04 | 674 ratings

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4 stars Arena took a more ambitious route this time around; though their previous two albums had been vaguely conceptual in the sense that the songs tended to deal with various recurring themes and used a lot of imagery from ancient cultures, for The Visitor they pulled out all the stops and went for a fully developed narrative concept album, complete with recurring musical motifs and whatnot.

New guitarist John Mitchell proves to be a very useful addition to the band, proving equally capable both of rocking out credibly on the one hand and playing in a gentler and more pastoral style when it's called for (as on the early sections of The Hanging Tree). Thematically, the album's all over the place and the story isn't really especially coherent, but when the music's this good that's very easy to forgive. Arena broaden their horizons a little bit here, with some sections reminding me of early Pallas (particularly the Atlantis Suite sections on The Sentinel) whilst other segments, such as album opener A Crack In the Ice, showcase a metal- tinged variety of melodic rock which the band would crank up to 11 on Contagion.

On the whole, it's another decent album from Arena, setting up the band to be almost as important to Clive Nolan's career as his main home in Pendragon, as well as making it clear Mick Pointer's return to the prog scene was no flash in the pan. Despite a few irritatingly cheesy parts here and there, on the whole it's a great success.

Warthur | 4/5 |


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