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Arena - Contagion
Verglas
By Davide "ProgDavid" Guidone
(more articles from this author)
2003-09-04
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Artist: Arena
Title: Contagion
Label: Verglas

Only today (the 31st of January) I was able to listen to the new Arena release instead of the official date of 27th because of Italian mail delivery. I have to say it's awful! .

However, the first thought I had was about David Wyatt's art design: I immediately believed it was wonderful. Afterwards, I put the CD in the Hi-Fi: the opening track, Witch Hunt, is a piece which could be written by a metal group. This consideration means that the band had a different approach to this album as to Songs from the Lions Cage, for example.

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In fact, this work is absolutely new and original and I guess it will be imitated by a lot of musicians from now on. It's a mixture of prog-rock and metal, but not represents the classic prog-metal, like which one performed by Dream Theater. Its sound is different: more melodic and devoid of the usual extreme technicalities. Arena save their soloist moments in the instrumental tracks, which are very emotionally involving.

Contagion is a concept album and speaks of a very pessimistic approach to the life. You can notice it reading all the lyrics, entirely written by Clive Nolan and this fact is perfectly represented by many "sad songs." Nolan, strangely, is not protagonist as usual; the only piece where he is the main player is Riding the Tide, an instrumental which has a keyboard theme that reminded me of Genesis' The Cinema Show. John Mitchell instead plays a lot of guitar solos like the beautiful and "destroying" one on Witch Hunt.

To conclude, this is a magnificent release. Marillion are miles off. I'm asking to myself what the critics will say…

Track Listing
Witch Hunt / An Angel Falls / Painted Man / This Way Madness Lies (instr.) / Spectre At The Feast / Never Ending Night / Skin Game / Salamander / On The Box (instr.) / Tsunami / Bitter Harvest / The City Of Lanterns / Riding The Tide (instr.) / Mea Culpa / Cutting The Cards / Ascension

Musicians
Rob Sowden - Vocals
John Mitchell - Guitar and backing vocals
Clive Nolan - Keyboards and backing vocals
Ian Salmon – Bass
Mick Pointer – Drums


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