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Arena Contagious album cover
2.91 | 58 ratings | 8 reviews | 9% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 2003

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Vanishing Act (4:13)
2. I Spy (6:07)
3. Contagious (4:23)
4. The Hour Glass (2:45)
5. Witch Hunt (Special remix) (3:42)

Total Time: 21:09

Line-up / Musicians

- Clive Nolan / keyboards
- Mick Pointer / drums
- Rob Sowden / vocals
- John Mitchell / guitars
- Ian Salmon / bass

Releases information

Verglas VGCD023

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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ARENA Contagious ratings distribution

(58 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(9%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(28%)
Good, but non-essential (45%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (7%)

ARENA Contagious 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
4 stars It's spreading fast

The first of two EPs issued to complement the "Contagion" album, "Contagious" contains five tracks plus a multimedia section. Four of the tracks are completely new, and come with instructions on where to "insert" them into the original album. Musically, they fit right in of course.

"Vanishing act" is a fast paced instrumental piece which sees Mitchell and Nolan trading licks on guitar and keyboards. "I spy" is slower and more majestic, with some superb guitar once again. At over six minutes, this is actually one of Arena's truly great songs, a mini "Solomon" if you will. Rob Sowden sings "It's cold, so cold" with such conviction, he'll have you shivering with him!

"Contagious" is more of a link track, which allows Nolan to display his keyboard prowess by including a good old fashioned organ solo. "The hour glass" is a brief acoustic piece, with echoes of "Crying for help". Themes from the original album can be spotted drifting in and out at different stages.

The final track is a remix of the opening track "Witch Hunt" from the "Contagion" album. Unlike the remix of "Salamander" on the other EP "Contagium", this one works well, dance beat and all.

At some stage I must make the effort to play the album plus the additional tracks on the two EPs in the order dictated by the band. It does seem like hard work though, perhaps a double album release which included all the material would have been in order.

The enhanced section has a live video of "Skin game", ghost vocals by John Mitchell of many of the album tracks, and some other PC extras.

Review by ZowieZiggy

As "Arena" mentions on their web-site, aside of "Contagion" their fine album release, there are two companion mini-albums to complete the main work. One multimedia section and five musical tracks will sit on this one.

The opener is a very strong intrumental number. Almost hard-rocking / metal. But this is not new for Arena. They often flirt with these genres, offering a very interesting and diversified mix in their repertoire.

"I Spy" is the most elaborate of the whole. Since this EP is complementary to "Contagion", none of these songs can be regarded as left overs and this one really belongs to the good Arena songs. Great keys and an inspired Rob on the vocals. This prolonged his very good work (his best so far IMO) on the main album.

The title track of this EP is another instrumental number. Not as catchy as the opener and the next song "The Hour Glass" is an average acoustic number. I have never been over-enthusiastic about remixes. This one is no exception. While the original "Witch Hunt" was a dynamic and solid piece of rock, this "mix" sounds rather poor and useless.

Although this EP is essential for die-hard fans, it makes the whole of the "Contagion- Contagious-Contagium" suite, an expensive story (around 30 ? for the whole). Non Arena fans could hardly find this one interesting. Two good songs are not enough. Two stars.

Review by Flucktrot
2 stars To their credit, Arena realized that they didn't have enough top material to justify a double album (or at least someone involved in Contagion's production did), and that serves to strengthen the central album.

However, that makes the companion pieces less essential, although if I had to rank order, I would place Contagious over Contagium, mostly due to the two instrumentals, Vanishing Act and Contagious. The former is an upbeat rocker that visits the central theme just a bit too much, and that latter has that standard Arena plodding rhythm but is enjoyable for its atmospherics and an absolutely blistering solo from Mitchell.

I usually include the instrumentals in my Contagion playlist, so I suppose that makes this worth obtaining, but certainly only if you are craving more Contagion-style material.

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars Clive Nolan's original intent for the "Contagion" album from his band ARENA was for it to be a double album with several instrumental tracks appearing at certain points in the album for there to be a smoother flow between the segments that spell out the storyline. But the record label had other ideas and the band was forced to scrap the idea and instead trim the album down to a single disc and with the leftovers created two separate EPs released simultaneously with the "Contagion" album.

There are several head scratchers about this decision of how to release these extras though. First of all instead of releasing one compilation album of the seven extra tracks, they were instead issued on two different releases, one called CONTAGIOUS and the other "Contagium." On this release CONTAGIOUS contains the tracks "Vaninishing Act," "I Spy," the title track and "The Hour Glass." In addition to these surplus musical tidbits, there is a "Special Remix Of Witch Hunt" which sounds more like an early 80s new wave band than ARENA.

While the music on this one is quite good, this EP has been made somewhat irrelevant since in 2013 an anniversary release called "Contagion Max" was finally made public and included all the extra tracks in their original intended ordered on a double CD. That means only the "Witch Hunt" remix is unavailable anywhere else and believe me it's certainly no reason to track this down separately. It's also strange that these tracks don't appear sequentially on the "Contagion Max" edition and are scattered about randomly on both discs.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nš 298

'Contagious' is an EP of Arena and was released in 2003. It's one of the two EP's released to complement their fifth studio album 'Contagion', released in the previous year. The other EP is 'Contagium', also released in the same year. 'Contagious' contains five tracks plus a multimedia section. One of the most interesting items from the 'Contagion' live tour merchandising is this EP, a reasonably necessary EP that complements the studio album. It includes four brand new songs 'Vanishing Act', 'I Spy', 'Contagious' and 'The Hour Glass', that come with instructions on where to insert them into the original album, and a new remix of the opening track from 'Contagion', 'Witch Hunt'. The multimedia section contains some interesting extras: Skin Game special video, footage from the 'Contagion' live show, Ghost Vocals featuring John Mitchell ('An Angel Falls', 'Spectre At The Feast', 'Salamander', 'Bitter Harvest', 'City Of Lanterns' and 'Mea Culpa'), Floodgate Choir Photo Gallery, Lyrics Page, 'Contagion' Screensaver and Website.

The line up on the EP 'Contagious' is the same line up of the studio album 'Contagion'. So, the line up is Rob Sowden (vocals), John Mitchell (backing vocals and guitars), Clive Nolan (backing vocals and keyboards), Ian Salmon (bass) and Mick Pointer (drums).

'Contagious' has five tracks. About the new compositions, they're all quite good songs, with the main characteristics they're inserted on the whole of 'Contagion'. Compared to previous original studio album 'Contagion', the remaining material was considered too good to just be thrown away by the band. The first track 'Vanishing Act' is a very good opener and a very strong instrumental number. This very powerful piece of music starts as a calm and floating song due to its floydian guitar solo but soon it turns into a real strong progressive rock song, almost turned into a hard/metal rock song. In reality it features a fine guitar and keyboard works throughout the song. However and despite being a very good song, I sincerely think that it's too much repetitive and hasn't great creativity. The second track 'I Spy' is very different, an almost folky acoustic affair with lots of backing vocals. This is, without any doubt and in my opinion, the most elaborate and the best track of the whole EP. This is really an excellent track that could be perfectly part of the album 'Contagion'. It's slower than the previous track and is a majestic song with superior and superb guitar and keyboard performances. We may even say that 'I Spy' can do perfectly part as one of Arena's truly greatest pieces of music, in the same line of their greatest epic songs. The third track is the title track song 'Contagious'. It's a less powerful song than the two previous songs and has a very dark mood. It includes great guitar work, a nice keyboard solo by Clive Nolan that reminds me Tony Banks style, and it also features a prominent bass line. It also features a prominent bass slap. This is another instrumental track that despite being a good musical number it isn't as touchy as the two previous songs. The fourth track 'The Hour Glass' is a very interesting typical dramatic Arena mid-tempo song with an excellent vocal work by Rob Sowden. It could be perfectly a good companion to 'Spectre At The Feast' or 'Salamander' songs from their album 'Contagion'. However, I think it has some weaknesses and probably it might lack also some originality. When we heard the song it sounds a bit too familiar leaving us the d'j' vu feeling. The fifth and last track 'Witch Hunt' is a special remix of the original opening song taken from their fifth studio album 'Contagion'. While the original version of the song was a very dynamic and solid piece of music, this new version was made to work as a dance beat music. In reality, we sincerely can't say that we are in presence of a bad version of the original track. We even can say that it's indeed well made and that it sounds nice. However, I sincerely can't see any kind of interest in doing that. So, in the end, it seams to be a truly completely useless thing. Definitely, this isn't my favourite cup of tea.

Conclusion: As I wrote above, 'Contagious' is, nothing less than an EP with four leftover songs from their fifth studio album 'Contagion' plus a remixed song from that album. So, it was seems to be made as a complement of the original studio album 'Contagion'. Thus, and because of that, to be able to make the most of this EP, probably the right thing to do would follow the instructions of the band and hear the album 'Contagion' inserting the four tracks into the EP in the right places of that album. So, my final words about this EP are merely dedicated to the songs in that context, since I've already reviewed the original album 'Contagion'. 'Contagious' is an interesting and good EP of Arena. The four new tracks are good extensions of 'Contagion', but, in my humble opinion, with the exception of 'I Spy', they're less good and less creative than the tracks on that album. In relation to the remix track 'Witch Hunt', as I wrote above, I don't like particularly of it. So and concluding, 'Contagious' despite be a good EP isn't a must have purchase for any prog rock fan. Anyway, this is a very interesting item for Arena fans with quite some new things to enjoy and explore. In short, we may say this is a brief but interesting release for any Arena collector. And don't forget the great artwork of David Wyatt.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars I listen to a lot of EPs. I think they're a good way to get a general introduction to an unfamiliar band. I had read a lot about Arena, and knew that they're often compared to Marillion with more metal influences. I hear the similarities mostly in John Mitchell's guitar playing and Rob So ... (read more)

Report this review (#2202809) | Posted by thwok | Wednesday, May 15, 2019 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The left overs from a dinner. This is the second left over EP from the Contagion session. This is supposed to be a good album and one I have yet to listen too, although I have a copy of it. This EP contains some good and some lesser good songs. I Spy is a very good song with some lingering ... (read more)

Report this review (#476979) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, July 6, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Contagious and Contagium are kind of extensions to the brilliant contagion album including remixes of tracks from that album. Witch Hunt gets the treatment on Contagious, but personally I prefer the original version. The EP also contains some great multimedia extras including skin game live vi ... (read more)

Report this review (#100256) | Posted by laghtnans | Friday, November 24, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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