Arena - Immortal?

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Verglas
Catalog Number: VGCD 019
Format: CD
Total Time: 55:18:00

Arena, as well as having this new album Immortal?, have a new vocalist and his name is Rob Sowden. Arena have been one of the stalwart UK progressive rock bands in recent years, consistently releasing albums and not getting the recognition they deserve. Well, I should say they always had the recognition by die-hard fans but their material was always difficult to come by. With their new label, InsideOut, I really hope that this takes Arena into a new era because they deserve it.

Immortal? is quite simply amazing. It's slow moving, involved, and dramatic musical exposition from the moment it begins to the moment it ends. At the same time, it manages, somehow, to have a depth and heaviness that only the skilled prog rock bands can produce. For those who feared that the departure of long-time vocalist Paul Wrightson then there is no need to worry because Rob Sowden handles it all with precision and excellence. He has a smooth, soulful voice (similar to that of dearly departed Paul) that is very confident (makes me wonder how nervous he would have been filling those shoes). The songs are scenic and theatrical with tracks like "The Butterfly Man" and "Ghost In The Firewall" which carries you away on a wave of musical superiority. And their lyrics are up with the times incorporating modern themes with further show the development of Arena. The opening track "Chosen" is one for all and if you don't like this grandiose opener then nothing shall you. The magic moment comes to you courtesy of "Moviedrome". 19:43 worth of musical magic. Self-indulgent and conceited at times but never boring. This is what a 20 minute track should sound like.

This is an outstanding release that will have you smiling for years to come.

Released in North America by InsideOut Music America (IOMACD 2012)

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Chosen (6:20) / Waiting For The Flood (5:52) / The Butterfly Man (8:56) / Ghost In The Firewall (4:55) / Climbing The Net (4:40) / Moviedrome (19:43) / Friday's Dream (4:44)

Rob Sowden - vocals
John Mitchell - guitars, backing vocals
Clive Nolan - keyboards, backing vocals
Ian Salmon - bass
Mick Pointer - drums

Songs From The Lion's Cage (1995)
Pride (1996)
The Edits (1996, OOP)
Welcome To The Stage (1997)
The Cry (EP, 1997)
The Visitor (1998)
The Visitor - Revisited (1999) (Dutch fan club only release, OOP)
Immortal? (2000)
Unlocking The Cage - 1995-2000 (2001) (Dutch fan club only release, OOP)
Breakfast In Biarritz (2001)
Contagion (2003)
Radiance (2003) (fan club only release)
Live & Life (2004) (box set)
Pepper's Ghost (2005)
Ten Years On (2006)
The Seventh Degree Of Separation (2011)
Live 2011/12 Tour (2012)
Arena XX (2016)
Contagion Max (reissue of Contagion) (2014)
The Unquiet Sky (2015)
The Visitor - 20th Anniversary Remastered Edition (2018)
Double Vision (2018)

Caught In The Act (DVD) (2003)
Smoke And Mirrors (DVD) (2006)
Rapture (DVD) (2013)
Arena XX (DVD) (2016)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin UK

Added: December 8th 2004
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website:
Hits: 2047
Language: english


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