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Arena - Contagious CD (album) cover

CONTAGIOUS

Arena

 

Neo-Prog

2.90 | 53 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
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*)

VianaProghead | 3/5 |

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