Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography

DOUBLE VISION

Arena

Neo-Prog


From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Arena Double Vision album cover
3.82 | 230 ratings | 16 reviews | 20% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


Write a review
Buy ARENA Music
from Progarchives.com partners
Studio Album, released in 2018

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Zhivago Wolf (4:48)
2. The Mirror Lies (6:58)
3. Scars (5:17)
4. Paradise Of Thieves (5:10)
5. Red Eyes (6:41)
6. Poisoned (4:28)
7. The Legend Of Elijah Shade (22:39)

Total Time 56:01

Line-up / Musicians

- Paul Manzi / vocals
- John Mitchell / guitars, backing vocals
- Clive Nolan / keyboards, backing vocals
- Kylan Amos / bass
- Mick Pointer / drums

Releases information

Artwork: João Martins (Grendel)

CD Verglas Music ‎- VGCD042 (2018, UK)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to Quinino + Yam Yam for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy ARENA Double Vision Music


Double VisionDouble Vision
Verglas Music 2018
$14.01
$19.33 (used)
Double Vision (180 Gram Gold Vinyl 2 LP Set)Double Vision (180 Gram Gold Vinyl 2 LP Set)
Verglas Music
$49.99
Double VisionDouble Vision
Verglas Music 2019
$38.92
$27.99 (used)


More places to buy ARENA music online Buy ARENA & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

ARENA Double Vision ratings distribution


3.82
(230 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(20%)
20%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
41%
Good, but non-essential (24%)
24%
Collectors/fans only (12%)
12%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

ARENA Double Vision reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars Arena, a band that in many ways was brought together by a running joke in an underground fanzine, which led directly to Mick Pointer realising that there was quite a vibrant prog scene. In turn he was introduced to Clive Nolan, and the rest as they say, is history. The debut 'Songs From The Lion's Cage' was released in 1995, and the jokes soon started about never being at far left or far right on a band photo as you would be the next to leave, but the guys have been stable now for quite some times, with the same line-up since 2011's 'The Seventh Degree of Separation'. That was the last album I heard, as for some reason I missed 2015's 'The Unquiet Sky', although I have been listening to quite a lot of Clive's other works, as well as releases featuring guitarist John Mitchell (the line-up being completed by singer Paul Manzi and bassist Kylan Amos).

Having played Clive's 'Alchemy' so much that it is almost worn out (according to LastFM it is my second most played album since I joined that site in 2007, behind only Camel's 'The Snow Goose), plus having known him for more than quarter of a century (I feel old) and having most of his projects, I was really looking forward to this album, and I wasn't disappointed. While Arena are first and foremost a progressive rock band, what I found fascinating with this album is the amount of theatricality within it. Paul Manzi surely has one of the most expressive and emotive voices around, and his relationship with Clive is long-standing in this and other projects, and they have an innate understanding of what is needed to take a song to the next level. There are times when I am clearly reminded of his performance on the aforementioned 'Alchemy', such is the power of his storytelling.

But, this is very much a band album, although it obviously has been heavily influenced by Clive who wrote or co-wrote every songs and provided all the lyrics, but Mick is playing better than ever, Kylan has a great sliding style that really suits the music. Then on top of it all there is the incomparable John Mitchell. He may not have been the original guitarist (who was Keith More, ex-Asia, for the first two albums) but he has been there for twenty years now, during which time he has built a considerable reputation as one of the finest guitarists in the scene, and I don't think anyone was really surprised when he joined It Bites. He knows when to riff and drive the music along, when to provide solos, when to use restraint and when to just let the music rock.

Here we are in 2018 and both Galahad and Arena have this year released possibly the finest albums of their careers, only time will fully be able to judge that, showing that although they were in the underground scene in the Nineties, playing all the dives that entailed due to no publicity (or internet!), they are ready and able to reap the rewards of keeping going when others have given up. This is a stunning album, one that all progheads need to discover at once if not sooner. I loved it the very first time I played it, and it has only got better the more I listen to it.

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team
5 stars After a couple of albums of more concise songs, the band is back with songs of epic scale. Arena has always been critical about their own compositions and the production. There are not many bands that can produce albums exempts of ordinary songs. "Double Vision" has seen the light after 1 year and a half of preparation. The first song has a dark intro and we can feel the epic style with symphonic passages. In the song "The Mirror Lies" we have a spacey Pink Floyd keyboard part of Clive that bright things up the straightforward first part of the song that ends nicely with some heavy guitars and a brief acoustic part. "Scars" brings some majestic keyboards lines and a long instrumental section. I am not sure if this song is a suite of "Crying for Help" because of the lyrics but it's a different atmosphere for sure. "Red Eyes" is a dark song with some of the heaviest stuff of the album where Clive is leading the way a while before stopping suddenly into a short calm ending. The song has some special vocals effect and a clear influence from the band Muse. "Poisoned" is a fine acoustic ballad to give a breather into this stormy music. And how can be an Arena album without an epic song at the end with countless tempo shifts, moods, and atmospheres where the intensity is always kept. Clive is going from the piano to the keys to finish in a pure Rick Wakeman style with the church organ. This is a solid 4.5 stars, time will tell if it stands out for being one of their best.
Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Back to the good stuff.

In the early 2K's, I would've bet a sack of nuts Arena was hands down the best band around. I bought everything they produced (DVD included) and saw them in concert; yes, I was an Arena machine. They had so much to offer: incredible melodies, mouth-watering keyboard solos, dramatic singers, emot emotionnal guitar solos and dark, brooding artworks that could not do wrong. They delivered from the star start a series of (dire I say, very) enjoyable albums filled with everything you want.

Let's be frank, 7th Degrees and the Unquiet Sky were (to our amazement) duds and I lost interest, di disappointed that one of my favorite bands lost it's mojo. And how! What happened?! The reason they de delivered 2 wet blankets back to back still eludes me today. Sometimes your muse takes a break and le leaves you alone, it happens (it did for Van Halen, Tori Amos and The Cure).

Just like M.Night Shayamalan, Arena are back with rejuvenated energy and Double Vision doesn't disappoint. The curse seems to have vanished and they kick it Contagion style right away with the best songs they offered us since more than decade. The recipe is working again, and they hit major points with their super-duper-enjoyable epic 'The Legend of...', full of...er...everything I love about them them. What bombastic, catchy melodies and effortless time changes! Yummers!

Once again, what happened?! They are back in super shape and the Shayamalan curse is off...good fo for us.

Now that's what I call a freakin' comeback!!

Review by aapatsos
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
4 stars Like it or not, I am the best chance you got...

...and that is returning to the ''original'' Arena song-writing. The 2-album ''gap'' where the band deviated from their trademark sound seems to have disappeared with the release of Double Vision. I first approached this with cynicism after the two previous efforts, which left me indifferent.

There is here reference to the ''Pepper's Ghost'' era of Rob Snowden - to my ears, THE reference vocalist for the band. And although Paul Manzi does not reach the theatrical grandeur of Rob, in this album he seems to have adjusted to the new (old) style of the band to deliver much more epic melodies and songs veiled in some mystery - and consequently, interest - for us poor listeners. Double Vision delivers signature Neo Prog of the 90's with emphatic guitar riffing and lush - but balanced - keyboard playing by Clive Nolan.

It does seem that the chemistry is back (or was it a conscious decision to revert to the old, safe and sound, style?). Not groundbreaking as the 90s/00s releases but still a very solid and well-played album, an excellent addition to the Arena catalogue. What next? Stick to the proven recipe or try something new?

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars The latest incarnation of popular British Neo-Prog band Arena has been in place for seven years now, and 2018's `Double Vision' marks the third album fronted by superior vocalist Paul Manzi for the group. While `Double Vision' may not quite be the big leap forward in sophistication that 2015's `The Unquiet Sky' was in comparison to the previous song-based (but actually rather underrated!) `The Seventh Degree of Separation' that kicked of this era, it still confidently marries the heavy guitars and shadowy gothic keyboards of this current version but now fuses them again to the lengthier prog epics of Arena's early days. While the album may not be a narrative-driven concept work, all of the seven pieces here share a similarly icy air, heightened emotion and surreal darker lyrics to maintain a stylistically similar mood the entire disc.

The curiously titled `Zhivago Wolf' is a punchy opener fuelled by Clive Nolan's mysterious icy synths and John Mitchell's snarling guitars, the piece detailing the way memories can be distorted over time only to seem more real than ever before. Vocalist Paul Manzi reels off a feverish string of stream-of-consciousness fragmented imagery and the band tear off into an up-tempo sprint behind Kylon Amos' pulsing bass and Mick Pointer's thrashing drums in the final moments. `The Mirror Lies', detailing the `emperor's new clothes' syndrome of those who believe their own hype, might feature big organ blasts and crushing riffing, but some calmer guitars and soothing ambient synth washes throughout harken back to the prettiest earliest Arena moments, and it also holds a catchy chest-beating chorus perfectly delivered by Manzi's soaring voice (and just listen for Clive's wavering keyboard break in the middle!).

Synths elegantly shimmer throughout `Scars' behind Manzi's pleading introspective voice, but it's really a showcase for John Mitchell's stadium-sized guitar soloing that rages with purpose, and muscular riffing around trippy electronic ripples burn throughout `Paradise Of Thieves' that also reveals another superb chorus. Bombastic organ menace and biting heavy guitars are perfect for conveying the hideous world of online sexual grooming in `Red Eyes', and lyrics like `Virtually invisible to you, spinning out my charms and promises, I can walk right into any room,' are deeply confronting. `Poisoned' is then classy and emotional ballad for lost loved ones, a true standout moment for Manzi on a disc that constantly highlights this charismatic singer.

It's then onto a closing epic (oh, as if prog fans dig those!), and the near-twenty-three minute `The Legend Of Elijah Shade' continues some story elements introduced on Arena's rightly cherished masterwork from twenty years ago, `The Visitor', a title often placed alongside other highly-regarded Neo-Prog works such as IQ's `Subterranea' `Twelfth Night's `Fact and Fiction' and Pendragon's `The Masquerade Overture'. Actually it's more a multi-part continuous suite of tunes than a true epic that would hold recurring themes and reprising passages, but pantomime-like grandness (similar to the wonderful stage shows that Nolan spends a lot of time on these days), ghostly piano ballads, boisterous harder rockers and uneasy gothic touches are all peppered with the theatrical vocal delivery, rousing choruses and surreal words the band do so well. There's no shortage of runaway keyboard soloing, and passages of sweetly chiming guitars and pretty synths instantly embrace the more romantic moments of the early albums once more, making the piece everything Arena do so well, and it maintains the great momentum and suitably dramatic build they excel at.

Arena here manage to marry the new with the old, but crucially without making it sound like a lazy retreat due to lack of inspiration. It's certainly not a challenging reinvention for the group, nor is it ever particularly subtle, but strong tunes, melodic arrangements, robust singing and an atmospheric instrumental backing all help make `Double Vision' a deceptively powerful and effective addition to the Arena discography that many of their fans will adore.

Four stars.

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3,5 stars, really. I have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand itīs a bit of a disappointment: the album is basic a bunch of songs, with the group becoming a wee bit too predictable musically. Thereīs nothing really new and even the "epic" The Legend Of Elijah Shade (22 minutes and 39 seconds in length) is little more than a bunch of small songs cobbled together with no real continuity or coherence in terms of what an epic should be. Only the final part does show Arenaīs in all its power and glory at the emotional fade, but then itīs too little too late. And it only serves to show how innovative and moving this band once was. On the other hand, letīs face it: the songs may not be that original, but, boy, are they good! And, if you are not not very demanding, itīs a darn good album of fine stuff.

Yes, itīs hard for me to listen to Double Vision without comparing to their masterpieces The Visitor or Contagion. Even the previous The Unquiet Sky (2015) is better than this one. Only occasionally you hear a (brief) keyboard solo form Clive Nolan. Again there are no instrumentals. Fine, it is still far better than the disastrous 'The Seventh Degree of Separation' of 2011, but that is not the hardest thing to do for talented guys like Arena. Another good news is the fact that Paul Manzi is singing better than ever. The guy is a fantastic vocalist and since The Unquiet Sky he got the spirit of Nolanīs dark lyrics and themes. My point is: itīs a good album, with very good songs and has almost all the elements we know and love from this band (unlike The Seventh...). Still... I really wish they had come up with something more adventurous and progressive, but you canīt have everything.

Conclusion: Not their best stuff, but very far from being a dud. Good songs, sometimes very good, but I can not say it is essential. Hence the 3,5 stars mark.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
4 stars The uncertainty of ARENA continuing after the departure of vocalist Rob Sowden left fans wondering if the band would ever return with new material but after a six year absence the band recruited Paul Manzi as the lead frontman and put all doubts to rest that ARENA was still in it for the long run. Three albums in after their comeback in 2011 with "The Seventh Degree Of Separation" the band returns in 2018 with the 9th studio album DOUBLE VISION and no this is not a collection of Foreigner covers! After the comeback, ARENA beefed up the heaviness and toned down the progressiveness becoming more of a crossover prog act than the bona fide powerhouse neo-prog outfit that they had evolved into leading up to "Contagion." Unfortunately the following "The Unquiet Sky" continued to tamp down the progressiveness and focused more on tightly delivered melodic rockers that only added touches of atmospheric rivers of synthesizers and eschewed lengthy grandiosity and virtuosic outbursts.

DOUBLE VISION comes three years after "The Unquiet Sky" and after all the negative feedback regarding that album, the band wisely revived more of the progressive aspects however they also kept the heaviness churning and in fact create one of the most rockin' albums of the band's existence. While bassist John Jowitt rejoined the band for "The Seventh Degree Of Separation" he quickly departed and was replaced by Kylan Amos. DOUBLE VISION enjoys the same lineup as "The Unquiet Sky" which allowed the current lineup of Clive Nolan (keyboards, backing vocals), Paul Manzi (vocals), John Mitchell (guitars, backing vocals), Kylan Amos (bass) and Mick Pointer (drums) to conjure up the organic chemistry needed to perfect all the proper elements to make this third phase of ARENA's career as vivacious and relevant as the first two. In that regard DOUBLE VISION definitely steps things up from the rather lazy predecessor that pretty much sounded like a "Seventh Degree Part 2".

First noticeable difference between DOUBLE VISION and the other two Manzi led albums is that his vocals have improved remarkably. It almost sounds as if he's been taking voice lessons in order to improve not only his dynamic delivery but he has expanded his vocal range and covers more diverse grounds. Same goes for the compositions themselves. While the band not only beefs up the prog factor, there was obviously more attention paid to crafting more addictive melodic hooks that develop into a larger frame of pleasantly unfolding prog fueled rock that wends and winds through six strong tracks that culminate in the grand finale, the whopping almost 23 minute long epic "The Legend Of Elijah Shade" which consists of six parts strung together to create one of those delicious slices of overweening pompous prog that true believers will eat up like kids in a candy store.

Now granted, ARENA are not interested in deviating from their established neo-prog style that they have been changing subtly throughout the band's near quarter century career. The strength is in the almost impeccable consistency that sticks to the playbook and only tweaks it enough to create a few unexpected twists and turns but the real bravado is in the excellent melodic developments and how they are strewn together in a series of soft and revolving heavy passages that result in synth-laden, guitar heavy crescendoes. DOUBLE VISION, while not deviating from the established playbook, does however crank out seven stellar tracks that not only rock the house but implement the proper dosages of holy progginess with all that excellent delivery of piano runs, keyboard glides and atmospheric haziness that Nolan so judiciously generates.

Out of the three albums that have featured Manzi, DOUBLE VISION is the best one yet and finds the band effortlessly melding the many phases of ARENAS existence into one beautiful album that includes the more sophisticated compositional prowess of albums like "Contagion" but also some of the melodramatic Marillion inspired 90s sounds from "Immortal?" Add to that the heightened awareness of casting the proper metallic spell and the perfectly placed bombastic parts in conjunct with the synthesized streaming operatic moments amount to ARENA's best album of the decade. True that nobody will find any surprises not already included int he ARENA playbook but when an album contains no weak tracks and each one is constructed so uniquely and placed in the proper sequence which amounts to such a glorious listening experience then who really cares if this is the most original album ever to hit the prog scene. Sometimes high quality over originality wins the day and DOUBLE VISION certainly made the quality a top priority. A triumphant return to form!

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars In 2015, I reviewed The Unquiet Sky as a welcome return to form by this venerable neo outfit, certainly compared to the disappointing predecessor album.

I am glad to say that Double Vision takes this to a higher level still. It is a deeply impressive album, and I will say immediately that this is the album where every Arena fan will look back in the years to come and say that this was the work where Paul Manzi most definitely made the lead vocalist gig his very own. He simply shines on every single track, and the band have, I feel, now become very comfortable in the fusion of more traditional symphonic and bombastic prog rock, their original calling card, and the far heavier and harder edge which Manzi, especially, brought to the act.

There are also moments of beauty. Witness the denouement to Red Eyes, a gorgeous end piece by Clive Nolan reminding one of similar such passages with Pendragon. My only complaint is that there was potential for an extended piece here.

The album itself, with a stunning piece of cover art, is the sequel to the much loved The Visitor from 1998. I love the lyrical references on the musically huge The Scars to what went on before. On this, the ever busy John Mitchell blasts out some powerful riffs, with Manzi theatrically leading the wall of sound led by Nolan's keys.

This is the major theme I have taken from a large number of listens prior to finally putting "pen to paper" for this review, my first in quite some time. This is the sound of a band who have fused differing progressive sounds, but managed to retain their unique mojo in our little prog rock world. This is an album which clearly deserves to be heard by a far larger audience in the wider rock world. It is also an album by a very stable ensemble - who would have thought we would be saying that about Arena in 2019, eh?

The first five tracks fairly race along in bombastic and heavy style, and we then have a hugely enjoyable ballad in Poisoned, featuring some lovely Mitchell guitar work, before we get to the main epic, the quite superb The Legend of Elijah Shade. All which preceded this leads up to 20 plus minutes of sheer classic Arena, an operatic piece which spells out loud, and at times very loudly, precisely where this band are now.

This is an album which comes highly recommended. An excellent slab of modern prog rock, and a clear statement which leaves the listener salivating at the thought of what might come in the years ahead.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Arena's 'Double Vision' is the ninth installment in the catalogue of the Surrey-based neo-prog supergoup. For me, neo-prog is definitely a hit or miss. A genre that was the response to the declining popularity of prog rock in the late 70s, and the rising force of punk rock, it combines many differen ... (read more)

Report this review (#2247987) | Posted by NickCrimsonII | Monday, September 2, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 4/5 a must listen for prog fans Although I did not get the point of the theme and the lyrics until I started reading about them, I couldn't just let Arena slide like that. There was something about the instruments and the music itself that made me attracted to them. Zhivago wolf was catchy but ... (read more)

Report this review (#2245292) | Posted by Egyptianprog-Fahmy | Tuesday, August 20, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I really had high expectations of this release. I really tried to like it. But when I compare it to what Arena has done in the past, I can't convince myself that this is a great album. It lacks soul. Just like the most of "The Seventh Degree Of Separation". Let me tell you why: "Zhivago Wolf" ... (read more)

Report this review (#1988798) | Posted by PureViewer | Tuesday, August 21, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is the biggest surprise of 2018 for me. I skipped the last album, and almost skipped this one based on the cover alone. I could circle around to The Unquiet Sky later, but right now I am going to spend time letting Double Vision marinate for a while. I do have most of their albums, and Doubl ... (read more)

Report this review (#1939486) | Posted by javajeff | Saturday, June 16, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Another album in the line of similarly-sounding recent Arena releases - slick, but safe, for them, spinning pompously vague tales of the supernatural and fallibility of reality in a heavy adult-oriented rock fashion. The songs are catchy, to be sure, but predictable, made from familiar ingredient ... (read more)

Report this review (#1936219) | Posted by Progrussia | Thursday, May 31, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Review #88. It's almost 3 years since the release of The Unquiet Sky and Arena returned with a new album. Double Vision was released a few weeks ago, and as it seems, it is the best album the band recorded since Contagion (2003). In Double Vision, Arena re-discover their musical identity an ... (read more)

Report this review (#1935566) | Posted by The Jester | Wednesday, May 30, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This band is back in great shape again. There is an extremely strong magnitude in the sonority of this new album Double Vision, giving notoriety to the production and the excellent execution of the work of all the members of the band. All of them completed their mission in a grandiose way, giving a ... (read more)

Report this review (#1932374) | Posted by freddie71 | Friday, May 18, 2018 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Arena is a very famous new avant-garde band and can be considered as a leader in this school. They were established in Surrey, England in 1995. It is a super combo, played by Marillion's former drummer Mick Pointer and Pendragon's keyboard. Kevin More, the guitarist of Clive Nolan and Asia, was repl ... (read more)

Report this review (#1919855) | Posted by mitarai_panda | Sunday, May 6, 2018 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of ARENA "Double Vision"

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

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

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: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives