With Arena's last album, they set the bar really high. "The Visitor" still is a masterpiece in (Neo) Progressive Rock. Is it possible to have two masterpieces in a row? It's not impossible, it's just very improbable. Especially considering the changes that were made. Paul Wrightson, the more than proficient singer, had left the band. Rob Sowden became the new singer. But also in the bass department was some shifting. The iconic John Jowitt was replaced by Ian Salmon. Such changes normally would make a band very instable.
I think this is the best opener Arena has done. It's so powerful! I especially love the keyboard solo which is backed up by a guitar riff. All the keyboards are so epic on this album. And Rob's vocals are 'darker' than Paul's and thus fit the music amazingly well. I don't know what exactly happened, but "Immortal?" is much heavier than "The Visitor". And I like it a lot!Waiting For The Flood
A nice pieceful song. The 'flute' solo is very melodic and very nice. I also love the 'choirs'. It's all Clive. This man is more than a keyboard player, he is a mood player. This is a very beautiful song indeed and in my opinion it is one of the weakest on the album.
That's saying something about this album!The Butterfly Man
Alright no jokes now. This one is truly a miracle. From start to finish, this is what Arena is about. It starts with an eerie keyboard melody. The lyrics are pretty dark too: "He waits in the dark, for lives misguided and wrecked. The catcher of innocent souls. He's proud of his human collection." When the chorus kicks in for the second time, you'll be blown away. Even more when the guitar solo takes it over from the chorus. It would be very obvious to talk about the amazing(!) guitar solos in this song (and album), but I can't simply tell you with words how cool it all is. So therefore I just want to mention what a fantastic bass player Ian Salmon is. Always very precise and right on time too. Also one little fragment that I'd like to point out is the part where the choir sings "Miserere mei". Very well done, it gives me goosebumps everytime!Ghost In The Firewall
Before I started to review this album, I didn't like this song at all. But now I had to listen to it several times and there was no way I could just skip this song. True, it's a bit of a strange song, but the chorus is really good. Again the epicness of the keyboards and all the sounds make it better.Climbing Up The Net
Well, this song is really out of place on the album. It sounds... happy. It also reminds me of Welcome To The Cage
. But it still has a lot to offer. Mainly keyboards. Lots of them. And it fades out and then...MoviedromeMoviedrome
comes in! "Immortal?" only has seven songs. But this one is almost 20 minutes long. But it feels like five minutes. It's such an exciting song full of interesting bits and pieces. 30 seconds into the song we are introduced to the main theme of the song by a siren like vocal. Clive does all these vocals and choirs a lot on this album. And I don't know why, but it always sounds so good. I wonder why he doesn't write film scores. He would be really good at it. At 6:35 the song begins a small instrumental interlude. Lots of mean guitar and keyboard stuff. Really, how can someone play something like that keyboard part at 7:13. All jumpy and exciting. This song is filled with some of the scariest guitar parts. Wow! I really like the piano part in the middle, which is written by John Mitchell when he was only seventeen years old. Then at 11:12 JM lies down a really beautiful guitar solo which is only interrupted by a very epic synthetic horn playing the Moviedrome theme. At 14:40 the song accelerates and some very strange and unearthly guitar stuff comes through the speakers. "So we're standing in the Moviedrome!" and finally again the theme by John Mitchell on guitar and Clive Nolan on his siren voice synth. A really fantastic gem of a song. In my opinion it's better than Solomon
and still one of the best Arena has done.Friday's Dream
After a song like Moviedrome
you're craving for something calm again. And Friday's Dream is the best way to end the album. It has also a very nice chorus (again), and it sounds hopeful to my ears. Which is always kind of nice after such a dark album. It ends with a gentle whisper: "Wake up!". Was it all a dream?Conclusion
In my review of "The Visitor" I asked myself whether Arena could make an album that's even better than "The Visitor". It's actually hard to answer that question. I think as a whole, perhaps "The Visitor" is better, but songs like The Butterfly Man
are truly one of the best Arena has done so far. So, is this album a masterpiece? Yes, perhaps not in the same way as "The Visitor", but that's not necessary. These two albums are very different from each other, but they are both very good!