Arena - Contagion

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Verglas
Catalog Number: VGCD024
Format: CD
Total Time: 58:48:00

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 delivery. I have to say it's awful! [Italian mail delivery, that is -ed.]

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 that could be written by a metal group. This consideration means that the band had a different approach to this album from that of Songs From The Lion's Cage, for example.

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 such that it represents the classic prog-metal, like that performed by Dream Theater. Its sound is different: more melodic and devoid of the usual extreme technicalities. Arena save their soloist moments for 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 the protagonist as usual; the only piece where he is the main player is "Riding The Tide," an instrumental that 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 myself what the critics will say?

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

Rob Sowden - vocals
John Mitchell - guitar and backing vocals
Clive Nolan - keyboards and 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: February 1st 2003
Reviewer: Davide Guidone

Artist website:
Hits: 1011
Language: english


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