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Arena - Pepper's Ghost CD (album) cover





3.65 | 420 ratings

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4 stars Arena's 2005 Pepper's Ghost is indeed a dark yet beautiful strange album, consists of 7 strange yet unique compositions. The cover of the album said it very clear with the tagline "7 Stories of Mystery & Imagination". I must admit that I had a very hard time to chew this latest effort from ARENA. A colleague of mine gave a 'pre-warning' that Pepper's Ghost is somewhat depart from any of their previous releases. This early warning system worked for me as I 'prepared' myself for what was to come in Pepper's Ghost.

Opened with "Bedlam Fayre", I was pretty much surprised that I thought they were going to dig more progressive than the previous albums. I did not realize that the 'early warning system' was they took a darker and more adventurous journey this time. The first line of the lyrics "Crawling through the poison pool/Hiding eyes with bleeding hands/Every step another fool/Kings and Queens of sand" was like a clue that this time the rollercoaster is different. I was still sitting with my mouth open when the second track, "Smoke And Mirror", made my jaw fell with its opening lyrics "Do you hear the voice?/Shouting down the Midnight Friend/Do you hear the voice?/An empty requiem/Tell me who you are/To treat me like a fool, can't you be/Honest from the start/Explain these tainted rules". This keyboards-driven track has become my instant favorite the first time I heard it.

By the third track then I realized that Pepper's Ghost might not be their best effort up to date. "The Shattered Room" falls down in certain part of the song. Overall the music structure is well-composed noted that there are part that I felt is as a 'fill-in'. I love the part when the lyrics sing "So many lies - blighted ambitions/Caught in a race - a certain collision/Stumbling over the paths of depression/Too scared to search for the answers to questions".

"The Eyes of Lara Moon" is opened with an acoustic guitar sound. I would call it a truly beautiful dark ballad. It includes, I think, one of the best penned lyrics "It's hard to fight/When you're struggling for breath/And it's hard to smile/Noble in the face of death". The fifth track, "Tantalus", almost fell in comparison with its previous track since where its first two and a half minutes brings the similar veins as "The Eyes of Lara Moon". This would be a more-recognizable track if it's place in another order.

The album closer is a seven and half minutes "Purgatory Road" and a 13-plus minutes "Opera Fanatica". Opened with a quite boring intro, "Purgatory Road" is a kick ass mid-tempo track. You may need to check on the solo section in the middle. It is amazing. It is amazing that the very statement that would describe how this album would be is mentioned in the last part of the album. "Gather close my friends - Attend to my confusion/These thoughts till now have been too far for you to reach/Gather close to me - My students of delusion/Listen carefully to what I have to teach" may span all the mystery and imagination from this concept album. I would call this album as a conceptual, regarding of its musical and lyrical themes. Not that they are stories in its continuity, but the same veins of feeling that I have after listening this album several times.

This is a good album. Few will have an easier time to chew and understand it though. At least it is worth giving a try. (4/5)

ydewata | 4/5 |


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