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Arena - Immortal? CD (album) cover

IMMORTAL?

Arena

 

Neo-Prog

3.94 | 479 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 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*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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