Best Of The Batch: Arena
Title: Pepper’s Ghost
Label: SPV/Inside Out Music
Arena’s music has been a joy for me to listen to over the last few years and it continues with Pepper’s Ghost. This is another landmark recording in their career, and to top it all off it goes in an entirely new direction than previous albums. This CD is jam packed with melodic hook filled riffs that rock. It’s still prog-rock, but probably more commercially accessible than anything I have ever heard from them.
This is not intense and heavy musically; that aspect has shifted over to theatrical side of their music. Thematically this is very strong, with a great concept to drive it all along. They even include a comic book to illustrate the story. Too bad the font is small you cannot read it. I was not about to pull out a magnifying glass for it; the music served the purpose just fine thank you very much.
“The Eyes of Lara Moon” and “Purgatory Road” have unforgettable rhythms and patterns that will not get out of your head. That is the mark of a good album, when a song sticks with you. The band has reached their goals on this release. All seven tracks are excellent, actually. The consistency of this album is very impressive. Rob Snowden sounds wonderful, so clear and strong, not to mention understandable, a huge plus. The rest of the band is as tight as ever, which came as no surprise to me. They simply are a group of fine musicians able to choose which direction they want to travel with the drop of a hat.
Well, were does Arena go from here? They continue to satisfy and surprise with every album. That is their strong suite; they always satisfy and keep things fresh, a most difficult task to accomplish while maintaining your popularity. They pull it off with superiority again.
1. Bedlam Fayre (6:06)
2. Smoke and Mirrors (4:44)
3. The Shattered Room (9:46)
4. The Eyes of Lara Moon (4:31)
5. Tantalus (6:51)
6. Purgatory Road (7:26)
7. Opera Fanatica (13:07)
Clive Nolan - keyboards
Mick Pointer - drums
Rob Sowden - vocals
John Mitchell - guitars
Ian Salmon - bass
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