Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography




From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Arena Immortal? album cover
3.94 | 538 ratings | 52 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

Write a review

Buy ARENA Music
from partners
Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Chosen (6:20)
2. Waiting for the Flood (5:52)
3. The Butterfly Man (8:56)
4. Ghost in the Firewall (4:55)
5. Climbing the Net (4:40)
6. Moviedrome (19:43)
7. Friday's Dream (4:44)

Total Time 55:10

Line-up / Musicians

- Rob Sowden / vocals
- John Mitchell / guitars, backing vocals
- Clive Nolan / keyboards, backing vocals, engineer & co-producer
- Ian Salmon / bass
- Mick Pointer / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Hugh Syme with Anthony Frederick (photo)

CD Verglas Music ‎- VGCD019 (2000, UK)
CD InsideOut - IOMACD 2012 (2000, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy ARENA Immortal? Music

ARENA Immortal? ratings distribution

(538 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(48%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

ARENA Immortal? reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
5 stars An album which will live forever

"Immortal?" (note the question mark!) was the follow up album to the excellent "The visitor", and the first with new vocalist Rob Sowden. Sowden's vocals fit in well with the band's sound, while adding his own distinctive signature.

Wisely, Arena did not try to make "The visitor 2", "Immortal?" being a bit heavier and with 7 unconnected tracks (whereas "The visitor" had substantially more shorter tracks which linked together to for a magnificent whole).

The stand out track is the 20 minute "Moviedrome", a stunning composition which offers a bleak view of life in the late 20th century, before climaxing with a more optimistic ending. The references to the intrusion of television into our lives ("we let him in and offer no defence) is reminiscent of The Moody Blues references 30+ years earlier on "Days of future past" ("cold hearted orb which rules the night, removes the colours from our sight.") The tension builds through the various time changes leading to the glorious finale. Even now after countless plays, I find the track as new and striking as on first hearing.

The other tracks are all superb, with my personal exception of the plodder "Chosen" which I found a bit uninspired, and disappointing as an opening track. That said, the highly atmospheric "The butterfly man" more than compensates, and the closing track "Friday's dream" is a beautiful ballad with an inspirational chorus. As such, it forms the perfect counter to the preceding "Moviedrome".

A fine album which falls neatly into the neo-prog category, Pity about the cover illustration though.

Review by Greger
4 stars ARENA are one of England's premier progressive bands and now they're back with their fourth studio album. This is the follow-up to their much-appreciated 1998 album "The Visitor". The main men behind ARENA are the keyboard player Clive Nolan (PENDRAGON, SHADOWLAND etc.), the drummer Mick Pointer (ex. MARILLION) and the guitarist John Mitchell.

- The new album are slightly darker, heavier, harder and more aggressive than the previous albums, almost drawing towards heavy metal or prog metal at times. Now and then they're approaching a DREAM THEATER kinda' music. But don't worry, the main part of the album has the typical ARENA sound and music without any bigger surprises, but oh so good.

- For this album they have recruited a new vocalist, Ian Salmon (JANISON EDGE, SHADOWLAND), who sounds almost exactly as the previous vocalist Paul Wrightson. As always, you know that when Clive Nolan is in a band, it's an insurance of high quality compositions and good musicianship. Here you can find highlights such as the opening "Chosen", "Waiting For The Flood" that contains very nice Mellotron playing, the majestic "The Butterfly Man", the melodic "Ghost In The Firewall" and the closing epic +19 minutes masterpiece "Moviedrome". "The Butterfly Man" and "Moviedrome" is two of the best tracks ever recorded in the new millennium.

- The production is close to perfectionism and the magnificent cover is made by artist Hugh Syme (FAITH NO MORE, MEGADETH, RUSH etc.). This is one of the better albums ever recorded by ARENA, perhaps THE BEST, and it's one of the best albums released so far in 2000. Highly recommended to lovers of heavy neo-progressive rock á la IQ and FISH-era MARILLION. Indeed, it's a "Immortal" album!

Review by loserboy
4 stars For those who think that Neo-Prog is code for stifle & lifeless synthy prog then you really need to hear "Immortal ?". These guys just keep on getting better as time goes on and "Immortal ?" is a great aggressive neo-prog piece of work. As with many of the ARENA albums we are introduced to new lead singers with "Immortal ?" also revealing new comer Rob Sowden who adds another strong chapter in the lead vocal role. Musically ARENA slides somewhere in the PENDRAGON/MARILLION school of prog but really have found their own sound. This time around ARENA have written a grand magnum opus track "MovieDrome" which clicks in just shy of 20 Mins of pure ear poppin' candy. Instrumentally I would say that ARENA are at their best yet on "Immortal ?" with some great musical melodies and incredible bass/guitar interplay... these guys sound tight. Without a question for me it is Clive Nolan's keyboard work which makes this album even better. Always known for his heavy forboding atmospheres and high skilled digital runs as is on "Immortal ?" with even some Mellotron and organ accents.

Review by Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Immortal?" is harder than any of ARENA's previous material. While "The Visitor" triggered just about every emotion on the human/musical scale, "Immortal?" seems to stir things up more at gut level.

From the opening track with its sounds of buzzing flies, binary drumbeat and raspy whisperings, you know you're in for something wicked. Next comes a delicate piece "Waiting for the Flood", followed by "The Butterfly Man" that opens with eerie piano notes, something like what you'd hear at the start of horror flicks. Although its melody is simple, the overall effect is quite convincing. "Ghost in the Firewall" is another typical spooky, bone-chilling ARENA number with all-round, made-to-measure arrangements. It is followed by the amazing "Climbing the Net" - I keep imagining this song as a prelude to "Ascension" from the "Contagion" album, as if "Ascension" were its logical follow-up.

The pièce de résistance, however, the one which sums up the whole CD - and perhaps ARENA as a musical entity - is the epic "Moviedrome". This one shows the band at their most creative. It's a veritable roller-coaster of explosive musical themes, mood swings and tempo changes. The music is so convincing and true to the theme, it's enough to make Alvin Toffler wish the guys had been around to put his novel 'Future Shock' to music. After such a highly charged number, the album rightfully closes with "Friday's Dream", a most moving yet powerful ballad guaranteed to melt your little progger's heart (I listen to the opening notes and imagine all the Bics lighting up on concert night).

"Immortal?" I wish I were, just so I could hear this type of music forever...

Review by The Prognaut
4 stars Somehow, when listening to a new material produced by musicians from former bands like MARILLION, ASIA and PENDRAGON we can rely in absurd judgments to justify the lack of inventive and progress from inside out the amalgamated band and we're constantly expectative about getting some kind of mixed sounds from those top bands. This is certainly no the case surrounding ARENA.

In spite the old schools these great musicians may have, they definitely didn't take the fast lane to get access to the masses by rapidly composing something sticky and poppy out of the blue to get their attention. I truly believe that before their first production, the ARENA members went through a deep, inner transition that implied several changes like reforming the way the used to play, retaking and adopting brand new proposals from within themselves and most important, not letting be swallowed by the crushing industry which is always hungry to sell and to be consumed by the audiences.

ARENA doesn't resembles any sounds or formulas already done, au contraire, the band established considerable parameters to be adopted by some newly born neo progressive bands. That is more than proved in "Immortal?", not only because of its alternations and arrangements; where the quality of the material is indisputably marvelous, edgy and punchy.

The band clearly experimented several reactions through the entire production of the project, that in the end worked out perfectly. "The Butterfly Man" is the living proof of what I'm trying to point out with these arguments: the intrepid execution of Clive NOLAN behind the keyboards intertwines magnificently with the solid drum strikes of Mick POINTER on drums; a superb work that claims for admiration and deafly applause. The constant interaction performed all the way in this album is amazing, the success was more than foreseen and everything surrounding this production was spotlessly managed. Great stuff!

Review by Menswear
4 stars My days of spitting smelly flems over neo-prog is finally over. I just can't believe that I'm actually saying that I do enjoy (a lot) this kind of music. 'But don't be fooled!' an inner voice said. 'Maybe this is a sub-type of neo-prog'. Hmm. So anyway, I checked.

Yep, Arena is different. Almost a style on thier own. It does not sound like the flat Pendragon or the ever tranquil Marillion. We have tremors, we have vocal emotion and also very good writing expressed in catchy keys lines and heavy bass/guitar riffs.

After listening to the superb mini-moog solo in 'Waiting for the Flood' (that sounds like a new Trespass form Genesis), I was really intringued. This record needs a chance. Give it and check after...this is no ordinary stuff. The energy inside 'Chosen', the fairy/pixie grace of 'Waiting for the Flood', the anxious and nervous 'Butterfly Man', the tragic 'Ghost in the Firewall' and 'Moviedrome' as a piece de not misjudge the record.

We are officialy far away from the standards of néoprog. Since 1996, Arena quickly exploited the apocalyptic and almost perpetual sorrow of their personnality. And Arena is setting the new standards. Anything under this quality is simply boring or tacky.

Like Contagion, the record is rather negative facing the future. Earth's degradation, environnement fading into a waste disposal site, people always growing towards madness and cruelty, lack of honesty and love....the list goes on. As Fish-era Marillion spoke of self depreciation, divorce and drug slavery, this one fuels up on bone chilling tv news and environnemental catastrophical status checks.

The end of the world has come?

Anxiety spoke in troubled times plus a negative sight for the future...but a REALISTIC one.

Review by maani
3 stars This is my first encounter with Arena, and I am torn about how I feel. I very much want to like this album more than I do; yet it simply does not have the "oomph" to be either "excellent" or "essential." / With ex-members of Marillion, Pendragon and Asia, those influences are all in evidence, as are the "sub-influences" of Genesis, Floyd, et al. And the band generally does well in filtering those influences into something interesting, if not exactly new. / "Chosen" opens the album in excellent style, with a nicely crafted, even compelling composition full of heavy symphonic keyboards, great guitar work (both electric and acoustic), and a powerful overall sound reminiscent of the best of Genesis, Marillion, Pendragon et al. (You just know this song sounds incredible in concert...) Unfortunately, nothing that follows lives up to this level of excellence. "Waiting For the Flood" is a decent ballad, but never quite "makes it" (both the lyrics and the vocal approach remind me alot of Fish - though not nearly so good.) "The Butterfly Man" has good structure and nice sectioning, with a few truly wonderful prog bits. "Ghost in the Firewall" is a shameless (but good) nod to Floyd. Opening with a Dark Side-type heartbeat and Floydian effects, it ultimately sounds like a handful of pieces of "The Wall" strung together. (Is FireWALL a clue?...) "Climbing the Net" is the obvious attempt at a "hit," and reminds me a little of "Nothing to Lose" on UK's second album, or one of Genesis' better hits post-ATTWT. "Moviedrome" (which has a very Blade Runner-esque opening) is an extended composition that is maddeningly inconsistent - though it does have three good jams: a serious piece of prog writing at 7:15-8:15; a Floydian jam at 11:15-13:35, with very Gilmour-ish guitar; and a lesser jam at 14:45-17:35, which nevertheless has some very good prog bits. "Friday's Dream" is the better of the two ballads, with a cleaner structure that builds nicely from acoustic guitar to full band. / The musicianship on the album is very good, and the band clearly works together well. They know all the standard prog tricks, and use them to good effect. Sowden's vocals are "appropriate" rather than compelling (much less exciting), and the lyrics are generally utilitarian. (As an aside, I did not fail to notice the large number of faith-based references in the lyrics - something I am finding in quite a few of the neo-neo-prog groups.) / The album is clearly well-crafted, and is definitely quite listenable. However, there is little "compelling" about it, and except for the opening track, very little sticks with you. Still, I like it, and will certainly give other Arena albums a spin.
Review by Zitro
3 stars 3 1/3 stars

One very strong album of this new millenium. This release is a very heavy and symphonic one (I would call it symphonic metal) with a singer that has a great approach to his singing style.

"Chosen" is a very strong dark opener full of symphonic keyboard arrangements and dramatic vocals. "Waiting for the Flood" is a more laid back track with a good usage of mellotrons. "The Butterfly Man" is easily the strongest song of the album, with the best vocals from Sowden, great progressive moments, and those two descending guitar solos! This song is very dark and terrifying. "Ghost In The Firewall" is another sinister, bone- chilling melodic song. "Climbing the Net" is more hopeful, and there is no darkness to be found. It is the poppiest song on the record, but it is not bad. "Moviedrome" is the epic of the album with its great overture, and interesting jams in the second half. And "Friday's Dream" is a nice ballad that start with an acoustic guitar and the band start joining in to end the album.

Highlights : The Butterfly Man, Chosen

Let-downs : Climbing the Net

My Grade : C+

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars And where will you find Immortality? Kneeling in Misery? Making endless reassurances, lost in naivety? Standing up? Looking up?"

Conjurors hoaxers exploiters killers occultists volunteers? Hatred or love leading you? Submerged in lifelong kudos?

Perhaps you already found it!

Arena is one of my favorite bands. "Immortal?" is the band's fourth full-fledge studio album where there were major changes in the band line-up. Paul Wrightson (lead vocal) who contributed to the band's second and third album plus an EP "The Cry" was replaced by Rob Sowden. John Jowitt (bass) who also served the band at the same albums with Paul was replaced by Ian Salmon. By that time Jowitt was serving three bands including IQ and Jadis. I though at that time it was a tough time to find good bass player or probably John Jowitt was really a great bass player that even three bands required him on board at the same period.

I was lucky that I had a signed copy of the CD by each member of the band because I pre-ordered the album altogether with my colleague neo prog lover who love Arena very much, Bowo Neo. I assumed that the album would be excellent as their critical acclaimed third album "The Visitor" had satisfied my personal taste without any single flaw. I was not wrong at all as the first time I listened to the CD, I was amazed with the opening track "Chosen" (6:20) musically as well as lyrically. For me this track indicates that Arena has changed (a bit) their music direction by inserting some guitar riffs that remind me to the progressive metal genre. The track is truly awesome and mind- boggling from start to end with powerful opening dominated by drum. Rob's voice fits perfectly with Arena's music even though he has less power compared to Paul. But he's a good prog singer. Lyrically I like how uplifting some segments in the track are. Something like "Freedom of speech - But we have no voice. Freedom of spirit - But we have no choice. Given no help - To meet these demands. Given no help - It's out of our hands".

"Waiting For The Flood" (5:52) is for me like a ballad with an excellent melody. Acoustic guitar by John Mitchell predominantly plays critical role to form the musical textures of this track. "The Butterfly Man" (8:56) is truly a killing track with its very nice melody, neat arrangement and practically flawless performance. The song starst with a combination of acoustic guitar and keyboard that accompanies lead vocal singing in an ambient style. What a killing intro part! Not only that, the music is composed considering great harmony and smooth flow from one part to another so that the listeners don't feel abrupt changes in style and / or tempo. The guitar solo that spans across the song is truly a stunning neo progressive guitar work. Bravo Mitchell!! You have created such wonderful notes and chords that killed me really! Clive Nolan's keyboard is also a pivotal part of the composition. Awesome!

"Ghost In The Firewall" (4:55) is composed similar with the nuance of the band's third album "The Visitor" especially on the keyboard sounds that we can hear at the background combined with drumbeats. When the music enters chorus "Oh - like the ghost in the firewall .. etc" it's exactly the part that lend a style from "The Visitor" album and has become the band's musical trade mark, I think. While the next track "Climbing The Net" (4:40) reminds me the music style of the bands first album "Songs from the Lions Cage". It's an excellent track with great combination of keyboard and guitar work. Amazing harmony.

Looking at the duration, "Moviedrome" (19:43) is an epic even though there is no such indication in the sleeve that it's an epic with multi parts. The song contains many styles that blends the beauty of neo progressive music with some influences of progressive metal and symphonic music. The nicest thing about this song is the cohesiveness of the composition as this song delivers excellent harmonies resulting from all instruments and vocals plus nice melody the song brings to the listeners. The solo parts for guitar and also keyboard are all excellent. I think it's a rewarding experience listening this track - especially if you listen to this album while sipping a cup of coffee and reading the sleeve notes. Oh .. what a life! Comfortably numb man .!!!

The album concludes nicely with "Friday's Dream" (4:44) which uses acoustic guitar as main rhythm as well as major instrument that determines the overall style of the music. There is also electric guitar solo mixed thinly at the background.

Overall, this album is an excellent addition to any prog collection. I prefer this album much more than Marillion's "Brave" which most people mention that it's the best album of Hogarth's era Marillion. Even though both of them are excellent. For neo progressive lovers who like cool prog music with symphonic touch, Immortal? Is probably the best choice. I dare to offer this album even to non prog lovers because it's very accessible. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Arena are an enigma to me. Some of the music is a little self-indulgent and lightweight when you compare it to other hard hitters within the genre. Yet, there is something about this band I really enjoy. I haven't really heard anything from them that I don't like.

Immortal? is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. It's the first with current vocalist Rob Sowden, and although he doesn't have the range that Wrightson possesses, he still makes for a capable lead vocalist. Musically, this is among their best, although it's a rather short disc. "Chosen" starts off with a Nine Inch Nails like beat, complete with the Reznor-esque deep growls coming in. Then Nolan and company just launch into the song full force. A nice opener.

"Waiting For The Flood" is pretty soft and acoustic, with some gentle guitar work from the incomparable John Mitchell. It almost takes on a "Silent Lucidity" feel.

"The Butterfly Man" proves that Sowden can handle a very sinister tone (i.e. "The Hanging Tree" from The Visitor). Nolan introduces the song with a hypnotic key intro and the song just builds from there.

"Ghost In The Firewall" is another song that begins in a very industrial song. Nolan's synths are especially prevalent and stick out above everything. They almost take on a alien if you're being spoken to through the speakers.

"Climbing Up The Net" is a bit poppy, but nice keyboard work from Nolan. It's probably the closest thing to an anthem that Arena have ever done. A lot of layers and a nice harmony during the chorus.

Actually, my favorite song on the disc is the 19:43 minute epic, Moviedrome. The low drone of Nolan's synths and the ghostly female vocals add a bit of eeriness to the song. Mitchell exhibits his dexterity on the guitar, as it interplays nicely with the vocals. The finer part of the song is the piano/vocal duet of Nolan and Sowden about 1/2 of the way through, until it's interupted by Mitchell's Gilmour-like solo. Arena handles this epic quite well, and wished they'd explore it more often on their subsequent albums.

The album closes with the soft acoustic "Friday's Dream". A nice way to bring it all together after a powerful epic like "Moviedrome".

Not sure why, but this is becoming a favorite of mine from the Arena discography. It's especially nice for the car and cranked for some odd reason. I think it warrants a 4.25-4.5 star rating.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Arena's first album of the millennium is in my opinion their strongest effort to date from what I have heard from them. There's a nice balance of guitar and keyboards, making more a more neo progressive metal type experience. On this album they decided to go with a non conceptual approach, their last record The Visitor being a rollicking conceptual piece that in the end came off successfully. Also worth mentioning is that Paul Wrightson and John Jowitt were both replaced on this record by Rob Sowden and Ian Salmon. This lineup has remained unchanged until today. Anyway, the songs on this album are a bit longer than The Visitor, with one piece reaching 9 minutes and the near 20 minute piece Moviedrome. In my opinion, this is Arena at the peak of their abilities and the peak of their creativity (at least from what I heard from the group at least).

The album opens with the strong piece Chosen. It begins with percussion that is strangely reminicent of Pink Floyd's Learning to Fly, but in the end it is a significantly heavier piece, with a great chord progression and some nice vocals from Sowden. It opens the album with a bang and the album doesn't really lose that overall atmosphere. Waiting for the Flood begins as an acoustic piece with sprawling arpeggios from Mitchell and a nice underlying bass line from Salmon. The piece doesn't ever get truly heavy, and the gentle acoustic feel is very well conceived and the lush keyboards from Nolan only help create a more soothing atmosphere. The Butterfly Man is one of the longer pieces on the album, clocking in at just about nine minutes. It begins with forboding keyboards from Nolan, who also provides an anxious mellotron performance underneath. Soon, the entire band kicks in with some precise drumming from Pointer and a soaring guitar solo from Mitchell. The piece has a nice sense of flow and progression, as the piece flows from melodic to somber, to rough and agressive in a rather well conceived manner.

Ghost in the Firewall begins with a droning bass beat complimented by a killer drum performance from Pointer, which while simplistic gets the job done very well. The piece is probably the weakest song on the album, with no real sense of evolution or any true invention, but still it isn't a terrible song in the end. Climbing the Net has a majestic feel with a nice Tony Banks esque synth line from Nolan and some precise rhythmic work from Salmon and Pointer. Although it isn't a particularly strong piece, I appreciate the guitar work, which ranges from soaring to very ethereal will well timed volume swells. Moviedrome is the showpiece of the album and will go down in history as one of the great Neo Prog epics. The piece goes through many different emotions and atmospheres, and the links between the varying emotions and the musicianship on this piece is just stunning. From the desolate, ambient intro, to the droning synthesizers around the seventh minute, to the hectic 5/4 sections towards the end (which yield a magnificent Mitchell solo). In the end, a fantastic way to almost bring the album to a close. Friday's Dream is the real closer of the album. It brings the album to an end with a nice acoustic feeling, but in my opinion Moviedrome should have officially ended the album, as it ended on such an epic note.

In the end, this is the best Arena album I've heard yet. It's not a masterpiece, but I really love the magnificently crafted songs and the excellent overall quality and musicianship. Fans of Neo Progressive rock in the vein of IQ, Marillion, and Pendragon won't go wrong with this album and fans of Progressive Metal might enjoy the album's heavier moments. As for me, I think this is an excellent album and it gets a high recommendation from me. 4.5/5.

Review by evenless
4 stars So would "Immortal?" be the next "Visitor"? I'm sure everybody who loved "The Visitor" was sceptically awaiting their forthcoming album "Immortal" in 2000, especially since Paul Wrightson had left the band in 1998 just after having finished their epic album: "The Visitor".

So what can we say about "Immortal?" ? (yes, the double question mark is correct here :-) One thing is that the album sounds a bit heavier than its predecessor. Furthermore Rob Sowden is a very gifted singer as well who's voice blends in quite nice with the sound of the band, however: I honestly do miss Paul Wrightson. I think to some people Paul Wrightson's departure might have recalled similar feelings about Fish leaving Marillion.

Well, so far for the negative note. Furthermore I think ARENA is a highly talented band with (always) very good keyboard player Clive Nolan (PENDRAGON/ AYREON), solid drummer Mick Pointer and always solid and great guitar playing by John Mitchell. Also Ian Salmon does some very nice bass playing. All and all musically it's all ok and as said before, a bit heavier than "The Visitor". Highlights of "Immortal?" definitely are "The Butterfly Man" and the 20 minute epic "Moviedrome". Especially listen to the last 5, mainly instrumental, minutes of this track starting at 14:40. Wow! Great stuff!

The result: I certainly miss Paul Wrightson on board of the ARENA vehicle, but nevertheless ARENA managed to deliver another solid album and show that the band easily takes place between other great Neo-Progressive bands like IQ, MARILLION and PENDRAGON. Not quite as a masterpiece as "The Visitor", yet absolutely worth a 4 star rating.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This certainly exceeded my expectations. Good to see Karl Groom involved as one of the engineers. This would turn out to be the most mellotron laden release of ARENA's catologue with only the last track not using it.

"Chosen" opens with a buzzing noise and percussion of some sort before the riffing and mellotron floods take over. Clive Nolan does such a good job as usual on the keys.This is a fantastic tune and a great way to open the album. "Waiting For The Flood" opens with acoustic guitar and reseved vocals. The chorus features a more upbeat sound with strummed guitar and hopeful lyrics. The mellotron is a nice touch to this beautiful tune."The Butterfly Man" has a good keyboard melody throughout and the vocals are passionate in the chorus. The guitar from Mitchell just soars beautifully and he adds an awesome solo 3 minutes in as well. The song gets heavy with drums and mellotron for a short time before getting back to the main melody.

"Ghost In The Firewall" is an atmospheric tune that reminded me of PINK FLOYD. "Climbing The Net" is an uptempo song that reminded me of the drummer's former band MARILLION. This one doesn't move me like the first three tracks though. "Moviedrome" is almost 20 minutes long and has many twists and turns from the haunting intro to the heavy drums and guitars. There is a good contrast between the mellow and the bombastic passages. And how about Mitchell's guitar playing ! His playing is ear candy ! We also get some good piano melodies from Clive. "Friday's Dream" is a nice ballad with acoustic guitar.

I have to say that Rob Sowden does a tremendous job in his debut with ARENA, his vocals are great and so is "Immortal ?"

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars More of the same? Well... yes, but that doesn't prevent "Immortal?" from being entirely engaging and enjoyable-- Arena is just too good at what they do not to love them.

"Immortal?" features another mix of songs with lots of variety with monstrous hooks and melodies, but I found them to be slightly less complex than on "Visitor". Moreover, they do not make quite the impact that some of that album's tracks did. The extended piece "Moviedrome" is an exception to this observation, and showcases the bands talent's nicely; it's easy to see that it occupied most of their efforts in the recording of this album.

Sowden's vocals are perfect for the band's sound, and the group doesn't miss a beat incorporating his inflection and style into their own.

Great from start to finish.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Arena has changed from lead vocalist but the bass player will also be changed. Ian Salmon, who also played in Shadowland (with Clive) comes to replace John Jowitt who will pursue personal projects. In terms of vocals, one already had the opportunity to hear Rob in the acoustic set available on "The Visitor, Revisited".

I have mentioned in my review for this record, that their voices (Paul and Rob's ones) were relatively close to one another to avoid a serious clash of genre. We'll get here the confirmation on this : Rob (who knows John Mitchell already) will do the job prefectly.

I have said that Arena did not make the same mistake as some other great bands did (Marillion in this particular case), in choosing a to different type of singer to be the frontman.

I have to say that I have some problems with this album.

Actually it is of course a good album but most of the songs will lack in something to be really great ones. Nothing such as "Solomon", "Jericho" or "Sirens".

Even the epic "Moviedrome". Almost twenty pleasant minutes of course but it doesn't provide me the same emotions as the tracks I have mentioned earlier. The second part of the song is my preferred one, it starts with a great guitar break, but when compared to the ones we could find on their previous work "The Visitor", it is not enough. It will be followed by a very nice vocal section and we'll finally get a incredible and crazy finale like Arena knows how to produce them.

The opener "Chosen" is a hard, almost heavy song. Very powerful and a classic of their live sets. The keys are particularly effective. The band returns to its harder sounds featured in "Pride".

The contrast with "Waiting For The Flood" is total. This acoustic piece of music is one of the sweetest and lightest that the band has ever produced. I must say though that this side of their work is not the one I prefer. We'll stay in this acoustic mood with the closing number "Friday's Dream". Again a nice song. But far from being unforgetable.

"The Butterfly Man" is probably the best track of this album. It reminds me the grandeur of the fantastic guitar play in "The Visitor". One of the few tracks not dominated by the keys. It almost sounds as a response to the "Crying For Help" songs while here, Rob is asking "Save Me"...It will be buit in a crescendo which is exactly how I love longer tracks. A poignant finale (save me, again) will close this track superbly.

"Ghost In The Firewall" is a very good track as well. Bombastic chorus and imposing mood. Sounds a bit sci-fi and very dark. It has a very simple, yet powerful structure. These two songs are the ones I prefer on this album.

We'll even get a song starting almost like a Genesis one, with a very good keys intro. But this poppy song ("Climbing The Net") might well be the least interesting one. Again, not a bad song. Just average.

There won't be any weak track on this album. Keyboards are invading this album too much to my taste. And boy ! You know that I like Clive a lot, but he is omni-present here.

It also sounds as if Arena is trying to create a patchwork of their previous album in this one : a bit of "The Lions Cage" here ("Moviedrome"), a bit of "Pride there ("Chosen" ), a bit of acoustic stuff as well with "Waiting For The Flood" as well as ""Friday's Dream" to remind their acoustic set from "The Visitor, Revisited" and the fabulous flavour from "The Visitor" for "The Butterfly Man".

This leaves me somewhat confused. Arena is really a band I appreciate very much but I can not get higher as three stars for this album. But am I not only mortal ?

Review by Flucktrot
4 stars Two important things to keep in mind when approaching this album: 1) It will grow on you, so if you don't like it from the start (as I didn't), give it time, and 2) this can be bleak, depressing stuff. The cover shows a grown, overweight man in a diaper bathed in TV glow. That is a vision of the future that I want no part of, but it appears that's part of the message Arena is attempting to convey here. I get it: the mass media and overall public apathy can serve to create an army of lazy, drunken, pathetic slobs. We had best be on our guard. I choose to focus more on the music, which overall is a bit uneven but good.

Chosen, Waiting for the Flood, Ghost in the Firewall, Climbing the Net. Chosen kicks off the album, and the dark mood is set right away, but it has enough variety and instrumental sections to keep my interest. Waiting for the Flood doesn't really work, and the best part sounds eerily like Queensryche's Slient Lucidity, except not as good, which means I really do not appreciate this track much. Ghost in the Firewall has some relatively poignant lyrics for the album theme, but musically it is slow and does little. Climbing the Net has the only "happy" melody on the album, and while well-done, it is not especially memorable or notable.

The Butterfly Man. You can tell a lot of thought went into this track. There's a nice melody, wonderful guitar sequences, and oppressively wonderful synth arrangements. Unfortunately, although the music (arrangements, vocals, etc) attempt to be very deep, it just doesn't quite work, and I can't take it seriously. I don't fear the Butterfly Man, I don't need to be saved from him, and the whole thing is just more than a bit cheesy.

Moviedrome. This is not your typical prog epic. It's herky-jerky, full of teases, stops and starts, and only builds to a moderate finale. All that aside, there is something unique, something I can't quite put my finger on, that has drawn me back so many times until I finally appreciated this for what it is. Here the intended bleak oppression masks the energetic intensity that the rest of the album only partly harnesses. The introduction features a number of orchestrated builds that repeatedly die off, leading to an absolutely gorgeous guitar melody in the middle, to be picked up with a number of alternating guitar and keyboard riffs, building intensity with a fast, backbeat rocker, to conclude with a majestic refrain. It's well-planned, poignant, rewarding stuff, and worth your listening time and effort.

Friday's Dream. An absolutely spellbinding way to end the album. After Movidedrome, this somewhat formulaic, creepy and emotive tune really works.

In a word: bleak. The final two songs really hammer home the overall theme, to great effect. Not quite a masterpiece (a recurring theme with Arena), but certainly inspired, creative, and well-realized stuff.

Review by NJprogfan
3 stars Finding this disc in a discount section of a record store, I wasn't to sure if it was going to be a good purchase having only their first album, which I thought was decent but not my cup of tea. I took the splunge and can honestly say it compares in the quality of the recording but not in the quality of music. I don't think Sowden has a great singing range. He's relatively flat and in the category of Neo-prog with a heavy dose of singing as opposed to instrumentals, a good singer is a neccesity and on this point the band fails. Lyrically, it's interesting but Snowden doesn't get me involved. So nows it's up to the instrumentals to pull me in and on this note the music is hit or miss with bombastic semi-metal riffery, (Chosen) mixed with some very nice acoustic guitar, (Waiting For The Flood) not doing it for me mainly because it's been done before better by bands like Marillion (Climbing The Net) and IQ (Butterfly Man). "Moviedrome" is the highlight piece and epic on the album and the main reason to purchase the disc, especially if you're a fan of the band and in Neo in particular. It's one of the few tracks that suites Snowden's voice. He attempts a bit of melody to creep into his singing but his annoying fluttering-type warble still rankles me. It's a tad long but has nice bits of keyboard work by Nolan who gets a chance to shine in spots. The album ends with a ballad and fades. A decent album overall, but not one I'd pull out to often. 3 stars for the quality recording and well done playing.
Review by kev rowland
4 stars Another album, another line-up change, but let's hope that this time there can be a long term continuity in Arena's ranks as personally I believe this to be their best album to date. Joining Clive Nolan (keys/vocals), Mick Pointer (drums) and John Mitchell (guitars/vocals) are Rob Sowden (vocals) and Ian Salmon (bass). Ian is already known to those who follow Clive's projects, as he has been in Shadowland since their inception.

Each of the songs works extremely well, although they encompass a myriad of styles. Opener "Chosen" is very much an anthemic rock song, with power chords and soaring keyboards set against delicate vocals. It is one of the rockiest numbers ever undertaken by Arena, almost like a cross between Shadowland and Threshold. Contrast that to the following "Waiting For The Flood", which is all about acoustic guitars and a ballad style which is much more reflective in manner. Ian also uses fretless bass on this, which gives a warmer sound.

I found it very hard to pick a favourite on the album, as they are all so good. While sometimes looking backwards, there is a great impression of moving forward and looking outside of the normal progressive genre for ideas. Talking to Clive yesterday, he was telling me that this has had the most pre-orders of any of their albums and to my ears that is richly deserved. If you are a fan of Arena then this the album you have been waiting for, and if you have yet to discover the delights of the Clive/Mick partnership then now could not be a better time.

Feedback #58, May 2000

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After releasing a true milestone within the Neo Prog fields, members of Arena focused a little bit on side projects, like John Mitchell playing with the Rock band The Urbane and Clive Nolan moving on with a collaboration with Oliver Wakeman and the album ''Jabberwocky''.In 1999 comes another shocking departure, Paul Wrightson, the excellent singer on the previous albums, quit and he was replaced by the unknown Rob Sowden.Wrightson would appear several years later as the singer of the Hard Rock/light Prog/AOR band Blind Ego.A few months later John Jowitt also leaves to rejoin Jadis and he is replaced by Janison Edge's/Shadowland's bassist Ian Salmon.By the end of the year the new formation started working on a brand fresh release, which was launched in April 2000 under the title ''Immortal?''.

The prog audience was starving to listen how the new singer would sound like, but Arena had a few more surprises to offer as proven by the new album. Sowden had a more emphatic and less sensitive voice than his precursor and apparently these new characteristics had also an impact on Arena's style, which shifted towards heavier and more bombastic territories with John Mitchel's guitar sounding as edgy as ever and the keyboard parts obtaining a pompous, symphonic atmosphere.Of course this is no Heavy Prog by any means, because the band still retains the fundamental principles of British Neo Prog, which are the strong display of melodic lines, the smooth keyboard interludes, the clean and deeply lyrical moments and, yes, the evident references to the GENESIS/MARILLION atmospheres, albeit masked in a modern face.The crystalline production and the powerful guitar parts along with the tons of dramatic arrangements within the compositions are the reasons why Arena sound extremely epic in ''Immortal?'' with Soweden being the most theatrical-sounding of all the band's vocalists, a fact that would be also prooved on stage.The tracks are really cool with heavy rhythms, beautiful solos, dreamy but also majestic keyboard themes and an even more contemporary sound, which now included a bit of sampled beats and slight use of electronics with the 20-min. ''Moviedrome'' being the absolute pinnacle of the album.On the other hand Arena are human beings and to my ears the line-up changes have affected part of their unmet inspiration.The music is still great, but the album lacks the pair of killer pieces, which were offered with generosity in ''The visitor''.

Yet another very solid Arena album, showing the band adding fresh elements in the music, such as the electronic beats, the heavier stylings and the more theatrical singing.Not close to the absolute masterpierce called ''The visitor'', but with a similar atmosphere, despite the new sounds, and pretty tight pieces.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

Review by progrules
4 stars This album had the tough task to try to top or equal its predecessor, the masterpiece-like The Visitor, to me an almost impossible challenge because The Visitor is their magnum opus. Well, they had to go for next best then and that would be come near it.

The album starts with the pretty fierce Chosen, a good opener (3,5*) followed by the ballad Waiting for the Flood, I personally believe ballads are not Arena's strongest point, I love their epics and they make very good rocking songs or songs with a shining Clive Nolan but ballads, not really. It's nice but that's all (3*). Next up is the first epical song, The Butterfly Man, a bit of a slow song with mysterious mood about it but a very good composition (4,25*). Ghost in the Firewall is another quite slow song but by far not as good as the previous, some interesting keyboard contribution by Nolan (3,25*). Climbing the Net is an accessible song resembling the shorter tracks on their first two albums, a bit retro to their old days more or less, fine track (3,5*). Moviedrome is a terrific epic, not only one of my favourite Arena songs of all time but even one of my all time ever favourites by any band. Speaks for itself that this one gets full score by me (5*). I think this one is even better than Solomon and Sirens, two songs that made me fall in love with this band. Closing track Friday's dream is the second ballad, also not really great just as the previous but slightly better (3,25*).

So that makes an overall average of 3,7, worthy of 4 stars without hesitation.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars First thing that came on my mind is that "Chosen" starts with some kind of non-so-pleasant sound for me 2:49 starts perfect combination of acoustic guitar playing easy, but strong riff, with drums doing this heavy sound which, connected with overall A. feeling sounds good. Well, it sounds as I want it to be. Of course supported by synths in background. 3:22 there's characteristic sound of Arena's electric guitar performing this solo.

"The Butterfly Man" is one of my two favourite tracks here, guess which one is second (smile). In 0:53-1:13 comes (how-to-name-it?) riff, one of two significant ones here, add 2:09-2:26 and together with first one and softly spoken (just with in exactly same soft way played synth) passages, you have described almost every part of song. Except the lyrics. They're haunting. When you compare sound of this and last track Synth (so little bit ethereal) sounding "Ghost in the Firewall", Pendragon like "Climbing the Net" and somehow different "Friday's Dream" makes nice tracks, easy to listen, but yet quality ones which have one big problem. They're on a bad place in a bad time. In the shadow of 6th track.

"Moviedrome" is strange song. Yeah, I can talk here about story (MovieDRONES go to MovieDROME) which took me a lot time to understand, but I will not. Really, excuses me, but I'll talk about this at "Breakfast at Biarritz" live album, because I heard BaB first and think that there is better version of it, just parts 8:10-10:50 sounds the same. I choose exactly this time, because then one of guitar solos began, unfortunately one of these I don't like too much. Instead of clear sound, it's muted here. I don't like live versions too much, exactly because of this, but here's the situation is reversed. Yeah and solo 11:13-to the end of another solo is also good. Don't take me bad, it's normally good that they don't sound same on album and live version, but here, album one is not so good. But I still like it.

Four stars boys and girls, if last tracks are under influence of Moviedrome, all these two tracks which appears on Biarritz are influenced by BaB. Irony ?

Review by friso
5 stars Arena's 'Immortal?' comes right after the celebrated 'The Visitor' album and introduces a new vocalist; Rob Sowden. The album is largely overshadowed by other works of the band ('Contagion' became a classic as well), but in retrospect this album might just be one of the best neo progressive records of that era. 'Immortal?' is the first perfectly produced album by the band and the recording sound hasn't aged a bit. The mixture of the modern electronic keyboard sounds by Clive Nolan (who also plays in Pendragon), the buttery heavy guitars of John Mitchel and the unique vocals of Rob Sowden is among my favorite in modern prog history. Dummer Mick Pointer also played on the Marillion debut and bassist Ian Salmon played in Threshold and Shadowland. The vocals of Sowden were a hot topic of debate at the time, whereas former vocalist Paul Wrightson was much loved by the fans of the band. For me he represents the perfect neo prog singer; quite emotive - but not too much like Fish - and capable of fully immersing his performance in the fantasy sci-fi landscapes the band creates.

This album has a tracklist with the much needed variety often lacking on neo-prog albums. 'Chosen' is a dark metal song with intense synths and dark atmospheres. 'Waiting for the Flood' is a nice and gentle melodic balled-type piece. 'The Butterfly Man' represents the best Arena has to offer and it is almost like another 'The Hanging Tree'; heavy prog, melody, great guitar leads, atmospheric vocals and strong lyrics. 'Ghost in the Firewall' is a slow-burning track with lots of great synths and 'Climbing the Net' is a joyful up-tempo neo prog piece. 'Moviedrome' is the band's first twenty minute epic and is leans heavily on the groundwork of Genesis and Marillion; yet it is a great song with many interesting harmonies, instrumental parts and story-line song-writing.

'Immortal?' outshines everything the band recorded after 'Contagion' and 'Live and Life' and in retrospect it is very much a highlight of the neo-progressive genre. Maybe we expected too much back then, when progressive rock had its great revival moment and everything seemed possible.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album was my first Arena-related purchase and a quite enjoyable such!

During this particular period I was highly influenced by Marillion which resulted in me buying every release that I could get a hold of at the time. Once the Marillion well started to dry up in terms of quality a friend of mine recommended me to check out Arena by acknowledging the presence of an ex-Marillion member in its line-up. Although I've never been much of a Mick Pointer fan since his drumming on A Script For Jesters Tear was lackluster at best, I still could not decline this proposition. I said alright and borrowed Immortal? and Songs From The Lion Cage from him. The latter album didn't impress me all that much but I'm glad that I still continued on to Immortal? since it turned out into a much more satisfying experience!

The first noticeable difference had to do with the improved production quality which is completely understandable considering the five year time span between the two releases but it's ultimately the great material that gives this album the upper hand. Chosen is anthem like performance which paves the way nicely for the rest of material. This particular composition may not be all that representative of the album since most of the material here is performed in a much more dramatic manner still it peaked my interest for the next composition and Waiting For The Flood didn't disappoint in that department. Things elevated to a whole different level with the opening of The Butterfly Man and it got even better once the strong melodic chorus pondered it's message right in my receptive brain. I definitely recommend streaming this song here on Prog Archives.

Nearly towards the end of the album we are treated to an epic suite titled Moviedrome which definitely takes a while to get into and although I love the compositions striking ending section I'm still not sure that I like it enough to call it a complete masterpiece. The overall feeling you get after listening to it is non-the-less strong enough to make me want to revisit this 20 minute suite from time to time. The album ends on a sweet stripped down ballad Friday's Dream and it's probably the best way to wind down after a long composition.

This album showed definite signs of maturity from the band which eventually brought forward an even stronger performance with the release of Contagion. Immortal? is non-the-less an excellent album for fans of Symphonic and Neo-Prog.

***** star songs: The Butterfly Man (8:56)

**** star songs: Chosen (6:20) Waiting For The Flood (5:52) Ghost In The Firewall (4:55) Climbing The Net (4:40) Moviedrome (19:43) Friday's Dream (4:44)

Review by lazland
4 stars Arena entered the new decade, and millennium, with a new vocalist, Rob Sowden, and an altogether heavier sound, but still with their trademark neo prog roots.

As with all Arena albums, the sound is altogether grand, and it has to be said that Sowden's vocals very much suit the heavier direction displayed.

John Mitchell is as good as ever, whilst the bass playing, right from the off, by Ian Salmon is pulsating. Together, they provide an exceptional foil and support to the band's founders and guiding lights Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer.

The opener, Chosen, is quite simply a superb piece of prog metal. Relentless in its pace, and driven along by a strong rhythm section and Nolan's keys, it starts the album off in grand style.

Waiting For The Flood is more recognisably neo prog, with Sowden's vocals extremely reminiscent of Peter Hamill. It features some fantastic acoustic guitar work backing by Mitchell, and I would here also give a big mention to the exceptional production that is evident on this, and, indeed, the whole album. It's all as clear as a bell and a joy to listen to. A very good, powerful, acoustic track.

The Butterfly Man opens with some delicate keyboard work backing more Hamill-esque vocals by Sowden. He really is a dead ringer ? oh well, it is neo prog after all! This is a far more sinister and sombre affair that the two tracks which preceded it, and it is very well performed by all concerned, and you notice, in particular, just how good the musicians are at both creating and producing alternate moods, especially Mitchell in his guitar work. Very dark, and in places, very heavy, this nine minute epic never lets up and always holds the listener's interest.

Ghost In The Firewall has a very alien, almost industrial, feel and sound to it, and this is driven almost exclusively by Clive Nolan's work. It is a huge, grand, and loud piece of symphonic rock, and is executed very well. The chorus is, amongst the machinery, almost an anthemic sing-along.

Climbing the Net is a brighter affair, and is a massive nod to Genesis post Gabriel era around the time of Wind & Wuthering, although it should be pointed out that Sowden is no Collins (some might think that a good thing!), but Nolan's keys are clearly inspired by the Banks work of that period and Mitchell's short, but sweet, bursts by Hackett. Four and a half minutes of guilty pleasure, which, whilst not essential, is not exactly filler either. Simply very good neo prog, and that's why we brought it, right?

The epic on the album is Moviedrome, clocking in at just short of twenty minutes. The metal start to the track is actually a bit misleading, because this is a track of many moods and styles. Metal, pure neo, and symphonic, it features some stunning guitar work by Mitchell. The main driver here, though, as on the bulk of the album, is Nolan, and some of his work is very intricate, but never less than grandiose. Fans of melodic bass playing will enjoy Salmon's contribution immensely, particularly in the mid period quieter section, and this then gives way to the most incredible guitar solo by Mitchell, most clearly inspired by some of Gilmour's later work, and a bombastic keyboard led symphonic pastiche. It ends as it began, with a very heavy section, and it is a very enjoyable track.

The album closes with Friday's Dream, a very soft, uplifting, and pleasant acoustic number, which is the perfect comedown after what preceded it.

Arena are a very important neo prog band, and they entered the new millennium with another very strong album, in spite of yet more line up upheavals.

Four stars for this. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection, and I would also add almost essential for fans of neo prog.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
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.

Review by Warthur
4 stars On the whole, Immortal is a fairly significant album in the Arena discography. With Rob Sowden joining on vocals, the band had a lineup which would remain stable for their next few albums, and with his extensive songwriting contributions this one John Mitchell demonstrated that in the short space of time since he had joined the band for The Visitor he had become a central member of the group - effectively becoming a third co-leader of the band alongside Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer.

I feel like it suffers a little from coming in between major conceptual works like The Visitor and Contagion; next to the other two, it risks feeling a little lightweight. On the other hand, as time has gone by it's grown on me, with a sort of cinematic soundtrack edge to the material creeping in (particularly, and aptly, on Moviedrome) that makes it sound almost like the soundtrack to a movie that doesn't exist.

The metallic edge which would come to the fore on Contagion hasn't yet fully developed here, but there's a few hints to it, and as such Immortal? is also notable as the point where the band's original more purist neo-prog sound reached a natural conclusion.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Arena's forth album named Immortal from 2000 is another worthy album from their catalogue for sure. With a new member on board Rob Sowden on voice and the keyboard player Cive Nolan from Pentragon and Shadowland fame , Mick Pointer an ex Marillion drumer - Arena took a step forward in their musical adventure with a more heavier and darker aproach then on previous album. The overall sound is much heavier then on The Visitor sometimes sounds like a metalized neo prog album - just to be checked The butterfly man, the best piece of the album to my ears and one of the best Arena pieces, is a total killer song, the guitar is awesome here. Another worthy tune to me is the Climbing The Net with an intro remind me a lot of Marillion early years. The longest track of the album Moviedrome is ok, little to long but for sure has some memorable passages, specially the instrumental sections are great. Overall a decent album, good but hardly essential or excellent. and I don't think is their best album I find The visior being better. 3-3.5 stars.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars Neo-proggers ARENA entered the timeline of the millennial change releasing their fourth album IMMORTAL? and sees the edition of yet another lineup change with their third lead vocalist Rob Sowden replacing Paul Wrightson and taking the role of musical story teller and frontman. Also we get a changing of the guard on bass duties with Ian Salmon taking over for John Jowitt. While Sowden's vocal abilities don't strike me as having as wide of a vocal range as his two predecessors he does manage to get the job done and despite being put off by his addition to the band upon first listen, i have comfortably settled into the fact that they really don't dissuade from the musical experience at hand.

As far as the music itself, despite the addition of a new vocalist and bassist, this is 90s ARENA all the way with strong ties to the Marillion neo-prog sound of the 80s replete with keyboards on atmospheric steroids, melodic guitar solos and that galloping baseline that gives neo-prog its own special bouncy flavor in the greater prog universe. John Mitchell continues to ramp up the distorted power chords ratcheting the band ever closer to the more hard rock oriented sound of future albums and the music is as catchy and melodically drenched in melancholy as any of the best neo-prog releases out there. Mitchell's solos and acoustic contributions are also tasty attributes to the overall scheme of things.

Like most ARENA albums, this one is endowed with excellent lyrical content loosely based on the concept of the human perception that the obsession for technology is a panacea for taking the place of aspects in life that keep the body and soul in balance with the greater worldl environment with an album cover that reminds me of the same theme like on Roger Waters' "Amused To Death." The vocals are delivered with the usual flair and gusto that ARENA vocalists are known for and even though Sowden isn't top dog for my favorite vocalists he does fit well into this style of music that requires the frontman to accentuate the rhythms, melodies and themes that demand such bravado. Mick Pointer's drumming has improved although never flashy or out of the context of the music.

As always, despite being a tad derivative of previous neo-prog releases, ARENA doesn't disappoint with strong, well-crafted tracks that are constructed of highly melodic developments accentuated by all the icings on the cake such as the pompous bombast of Clive Nolan's keyboard runs, suave piano rolls and synthethesized atmospheres drenched with mellotron and choral samples. I initially liked IMMORTAL? less than many of the other ARENA albums surrounding it but i have to admit that the tunes are downright catchy enough to hook me and reel me in so successfully that i have surrendered to their charm. Still not my favorite ARENA album and the 90s approach to songwriting is definitely in need of an upgrade soon but this last vestige of that era is a very decent one with IMMORTAL? ranking high amongst its contemporary neo-prog rivals.

Review by The Crow
4 stars Welcome to the best Arena's line-up!

And that's because Rob Sowden is the best vocalist that Arena ever had (sorry Paul Manzi) and the first who not sounded like a copy of Fish. Ian Salmon is also one hell of a bass player, and Mitchell was fully consolidated as a capital part of Arena's sound, together with the powerful Mick Pointer's drums and the great keyboards of Clive Nolan.

The production was also the best that they took pleasure in, thanks to the last and very good production of Simon Hanhart with the band. The artwork of Hugh Syme is also over the top... But let's talk about the songs!

Chosen is like a summary of what Immortal? has to offer. Strong riff, great keyboard melodies and a very talented singer. And great guitar and keyboard solos! The style of the band is a bit stronger, harder and darker as in The Visitor. Waiting for the flood confirms that Rob Sowden is a prodigious singer, with a very personal and strong voice. This song is both mellow, progressive and it has another marvelous keyboard solo. Nolan, you are God!

The Butterfly Man is like an advance of what Contagion would become a few years later. Dark, even horrifying lyrics and a very progressive and variable structure. Another great track! Ghost in the Firewall, on the contrary, is less inspired. A bit boring and not very interesting... But the lyrics help in the strange and vague concept of the album, which talks about new technologies in a rather negative and apocalyptic way.

Climbing the Net is just the opposite. A very vivid and funny track in the style of the most optimistic parts of The Visitor, with an outstanding Nolan work and splendid melodies. Perfect to be played live! And then comes Moviedrome... The longest song that Arena ever recorded and one of their finest. Just a pleasure to the ears and a true classic of Neo-Progressive rock. It has even a melody which reminds me to John Carpenter's Halloween theme! And the final section is also anthological.

Friday's Dream, is not so brilliant, but it's mid-tempo and beautiful chorus help to end this album leaving a delighted smile on our faces.

Conclusion: Immortal? is the start of the best years for Arena, and an excellent advance of what the masterpiece Contagion would be. And despite being not so good as this album, Immortal? is a very solid effort with some outstanding moments and a song (Moviedrome) which deserves to have a golden place in prog music history.

It's a shame that Arena are not able to create so wonderful albums anymore. Both The Seventh Degree of Separation and The Unquiet Sky don't stand a chance against Immortal? Maybe their next one? With the inadequate Paul Manzi as frontman I don't think so.

Best Tracks: Waiting for the Flood, The Butterfly Man, Moviedrome.

My rating: ****

Review by VianaProghead
4 stars Review Nº 351

Arena was born in 1993, when former Marillion's drummer Mick Pointer was introduced to Clive Nolan by Richard Jordan, editor of Silhobbit Magazine. Pointer had been thinking about recording an album for a while and Nolan seemed to be the right person to re-introduce him in the world of prog music taht had changed since Pointer has left Marillion.

'Immortal?' is the fourth studio album of Arena and was released in 2000. This is the first studio album of Arena to feature the presence of their new vocalist Rob Sowden, who replaced their previous vocalist Paul Wrightson. This is also the album with the presence of their new bassist Ian Salmon, who replaced their previous bassist John Jowitt. John Jowitt would return to the band in Arena's seventh studio album 'The Seventh Degree Of Separation', released in 2011. Curiously, this time he replaced Ian Salmon. So, the line up on the album is Rob Sowden (vocals), John Mitchell (backing vocals and guitars), Clive Nolan (backing vocals and keyboards), Ian Salmon (bass) and Mick Pointer (drums).

'Immortal?' has seven tracks. All songs were written by Clive Nolan, Mick Pointer and John Mitchell, except 'The Butterfly Man' which was only written by Clive Nolan and John Mitchell. The first track 'Chosen' is a progressive track that opens the album with a bombastic way. It's a very catchy song with great melody, nice keyboard work and beautiful guitar performance. This is a track with a darker and heavier tone which leaves us the impression that the band's sound changed with a new progressive metal style influence into their music. The second track 'Waiting For The Flood' is a more traditional neo-progressive song in the same vein of the music on their previous studio album 'The Visitor'. The Rob Snowden's vocal performance it seems to me a truly reminiscence of Paul Wrightson and of the sound of their previous studio album. This is a song that features some fantastic acoustic guitar work, melodic keyboards and great vocal performance. It's an excellent powerful acoustic track with dark and apocalyptic lyrics, in the same vein of the entire album. The third track 'The Butterfly Man' is simply one of two best tracks on the album and is also one of my favourites too. It's a very powerful song that reminds me, once more, their album 'The Visitor'. This is a song with a fantastic and great guitar work and represents one of the few songs not dominated by the keyboards of Nolan. It's a fantastic song that moves perfectly well between the heavy and melodic parts. The fourth track 'Ghost In The Firewall' is a kind of an experimental Arena track that is driven almost exclusively by Nolan's keyboards. It's a song that begins with a very industrial way that reminds me Pink Floyd in some musical parts. With this kind of songs Arena proves that they are able to change their music, experiencing a new and modern sound to the neo-progressive music. The fifth track 'Climbing The Net' is a very accessible song and represents, in a certain way, a musical retrospective of their old days. It's a very good song with nice lyrics, great melodies and a good musical development. However, and in my humble opinion, 'Climbing The Net' is probably the less interesting song on the album. The sixth track 'Moviedrome' is the biggest song on the album and represents the great epic of it. This is in reality, a true progressive song with multi parts that contains many styles of music with influences of symphonic music and progressive metal. It represents one of the best examples of the contribution of Arena to a new progressive sound. It's a very cohesive song with beautiful and excellent harmonies and remarkable individual performances by all band's members. This is the second highlight of the album. The seventh and last track 'Friday's Dream' is a very simple, calm, beautiful and powerful ballad, mainly performed by acoustic guitar, which closes the album nicely and harmonically, and is definitely better than 'Climbing The Net' is. This is a song that reminds me the short tracks called 'Crying For Help' from their debut studio albums 'Songs From The Lion's Cage' and 'Pride'. It's a nice and a pacific way of Arena to close this excellent studio album.

Conclusion: 'Immortal?' is another excellent album of Arena and represents another change into their style of music. With their two first studio albums 'Songs From The Lion's Cage' and 'Pride', Arena's music was very reminiscent of the musical influences of Marillion and IQ. With their third studio album 'The Visitor', Arena's music changed and could be perceptible an attempt of the group to create and individualize their new sound. With this fourth studio album Arena managed to create a new sound in a very own way. This is very remarkable and made of Arena a band with a very distinctive sound in the neo-prog bands. They managed with 'Immortal?' what Galahad managed several years before with their studio album 'Empires Never Last'. However and despite 'Immortal?' be an excellent album, personally, I sincerely think that it isn't a masterpiece despite it was very close to be it. Anyway, 'Immortal?' is Arena's second best studio album of their four previous studio albums. So, in my humble opinion, 'Immortal?' isn't a perfect album. It has some weak points, namely 'Climbing The Net'. Thus, 'The Visitor' remains to me as their greatest masterpiece till now.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
4 stars Among Arena's best we have to mention 'Immortal?', the band's fourth full-length studio release, put up for the world to enjoy in the first year of the new millennium. This one is also the first record with vocalist Rob Sowden, who would record two more before parting ways with the band, and has the severely difficult task of following up the stellar masterwork of Arena, 1998's 'The Visitor'. Of course, the core of the band, in the face of Clive Nolan, John Mitchell and Mick Pointer, as well as the other two players do not disappoint and deliver the second installment of what could certainly be considered the 'Holy Trinity' of Arena albums, including 'Contagion' as well.

'Immortal?' opens with 'Chosen', a dark, heavy song, with a throbbing main riff and a haunting atmosphere, this is still Arena, but they dare to go to some even gloomier places than before, still focusing on atmosphere, as on 'The Visitor'. The 9-minute 'The Butterfly Man' is another highlight of the album - this is pure neo-prog mixed up with heavy metal, ultimately ending up as one of the most evocative songs in Arena's entire catalogue. 'Ghost in the Firewall' is pure emotion, always highly anticipated when playing the album, this for me is one of the band's all-time bests tracks. 'Climbing the Net' does reflect slightly Mick Pointer's Marillion days, as this one is certainly an homage to the 80s neo-progressive rock scene, reminiscent a bit of 'Double Vision', a song appearing on Arena's previous album. Then there is the great 20-minute composition 'Moviedrome', this one is epic and suspenseful, dark and melancholic, heavy and abundant, everything you might expect from this group.

'Immortal' is a great debut for Sowden, and a very strong release for Arena; It is, my least favorite of their classic three, but the album definitely has a lot to offer and serves impactfully as one of the better neo-prog releases of the early 2000s.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Immortal? is a forceful work, vitalized by the incorporation of Rob Sowden in the voices, who fit in seamlessly with the band. Rather, it brings overwhelming expressiveness and drama to the theme of the album. Proof of this is the disturbingly intense The Butterfly Man, the martial and heartbre ... (read more)

Report this review (#2418905) | Posted by Hector Enrique | Saturday, July 11, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars When I discovered Arena, at first I was shocked with Songs from the Lion's Cage and The Visitor, two extraordinaries albums, but then I paid attention to Inmortal?, and finally I realized that it is a great album too. In fact, about all the Arena's stuff, these three albums are the best by far ... (read more)

Report this review (#1072946) | Posted by genbanks | Tuesday, November 5, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Arena's fourth studio offering marks the debut of vocalist Rob Sowden, who has a similar voice to his predecessor, maybe sounding a bit less like Fish, and adding a touch of vibrato that fits perfectly with the somber atmosphere of this album. The sound here changes a bit from previous albums, ... (read more)

Report this review (#1068143) | Posted by surrogate people | Monday, October 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars If you like your music to speak to your soul in an intimate way, Arena is not for you. This is pure bombast and what some might call pretencious. Even their ballads have over-dramatic vocals. On Immortal, their fourth album, they go for a hybrid of new prog and metal. One might be tempted to c ... (read more)

Report this review (#1004878) | Posted by Progrussia | Wednesday, July 24, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Listening diary 14th September, 2021: Arena - Immortal? (neo-prog, 2000) Probably the most nondescript of Arena's short run of decent-but-not-great albums in the late 90's and early 00's, playing a pretty textbook style of neo-prog, without any of the quasi-metal influence that would lift them up ... (read more)

Report this review (#833753) | Posted by Gallifrey | Saturday, October 6, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The year 2000 began with the release of this album, which I think is one of the best of the new millennium. I was not very impressed of the previous albums of Arena, it seemed they weren't too imaginative and, above all, in my opinion the voice was very flat. With "Immortal?" the band gave a ... (read more)

Report this review (#436551) | Posted by prog61 | Thursday, April 21, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Years ago when I first bought this CD, I thought Arena was going through a big change, and the neo prog, ie. gone is the Gabriel-era Genesis or Fish-era Marillion sound that pretty much defined the first few albums, and some harder edge guitar comes into play - thanks to genius guitarist John Mitche ... (read more)

Report this review (#321514) | Posted by terryl | Tuesday, November 16, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is a real change in Arena's style: showing prog metal influences throughout, this updates and invigorates thier sound. Chosen could easily be a Threshold song (and a good one at that), with dynamic riffs and dark lyrical themes. This is a powerful, energetic opener, one of the main re ... (read more)

Report this review (#153001) | Posted by La fraisne | Wednesday, November 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Take a leap of faith if you want to find out... In the year 2000, Arena returned to the studio for a polyfold purpose. It had been 2 years since their groundbreaking album The Visitor, and the lineup had changed quite significantly since then. The year prior, a live album including new vocalist R ... (read more)

Report this review (#128366) | Posted by Man Overboard | Friday, July 13, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I used to love the first track and couldn't really get into the other tracks and now it's the other way around. I don't care for the first track and the rest of it sounds delicious. The 2nd track and on I feel are all equally good. Well, I consider Moviedrome to be an entity of it's own and it ... (read more)

Report this review (#120717) | Posted by jimbrown87 | Friday, May 4, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is another great album from Arena but I feel it fails to reach the hights of the Visitor. The butterfly man is a classic haunting song which stands out, but the rest of the album is not quite as good. This said it is still highest quality music which I love. I don't normally comment on al ... (read more)

Report this review (#100250) | Posted by laghtnans | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Together with THE VISITOR this stays almost permantly in the CD player. Very similar in style to the aforementioned album (hardly surprising), but different enough to appreciate the subtle development of the ARENA sound. Again there is a theme running through the album that culminates in MOV ... (read more)

Report this review (#91744) | Posted by huge | Sunday, September 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Immortal? kicks off with a 80s drum loop accompanying an "Take a leap of faith if you want to find out!" chant from the opening song "Chosen". This rhythm-section driven song is a mid-tempo track that would simply put you to sit tight in your chair (well, it shows clearly through the album cov ... (read more)

Report this review (#79692) | Posted by ydewata | Monday, May 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars My first tate of Arena. Is immortal? any good I hear you all ask. Yes they are! A very solid entry into the Neo Prog genre with influences of Marillion, Genesis and Floyd here. Much better than some bands I've heard, such as Pendragon. A worhtwhile addition to any collection. I can't wait to ... (read more)

Report this review (#41654) | Posted by | Friday, August 5, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Immortal? kicks off with a 80s drum loop accompanying an "Take a leap of faith if you want to find out!" chant from the opening song "Chosen". This rhythm-section driven song is a mid-tempo track that would simply put you to sit tight in your chair (well, it shows clearly through the album cov ... (read more)

Report this review (#37041) | Posted by | Monday, June 20, 2005 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Sonically, Arena goes into higher gear. Immortal? is darker and heavier than its predecessors. It however cannot hide the fact that the compositions are of irregular quality. Powerplay, although great in performance, once again overrules the search for musical depth. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1053) | Posted by PROGCOM | Sunday, February 13, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Immortal? is again a wonderfull Arena album. I expected a lot from this album, having heard their previous work. And Immortal was everything I hoped for. Immortal sees a continuation of the Arena style, a bit more heavy than The Visitor, sometimes leaning towards prog-metal. Again there is a n ... (read more)

Report this review (#1057) | Posted by tuxon | Saturday, February 12, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars That's where we have the heaviest album by Arena. I even cannot say exactly what style is it: heavy Progressive or Progressive Metal. Practically the only Climbing The Net hasn't elements of Metal, the rest of the tracks in less or more degree are characterized with the "Metallized accent". An ... (read more)

Report this review (#1054) | Posted by Emperor | Thursday, February 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Before assigning a star rating to an album, you should carefully consider what the differing number of stars stand for. (...) And not every album you enjoy will be a masterpiece." Well this one is! This for me is the culmination of Arena's evolution (Contagion continues that style) this ... (read more)

Report this review (#1049) | Posted by | Wednesday, July 28, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In contrast to The Visitor the drums sound great on this album, a heavier offering with more shorter self contained peices rather than a theme or concept (not one that i can spot anyway) with Moviedrome being the centrepiece. As with The Visitor the guitar playing is trancendental and is by far the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1045) | Posted by Jools | Wednesday, March 10, 2004 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of ARENA "Immortal?"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.