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Review series: "The Seventh Degree Of Seperation"

Started by PH, Mon, 2011-12-05, 22:49:30

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Draco chimera

I agree with parts of the things you said. About the sing-aspect of the album, I think Clive said in the DVD that Mick wanted more chorus and songs, while Clive defended an opposite point of view. I think it was something like that. About John, I especially like the rather complex bass part in the chorus of One Last Au Revoir. Very sophisticated and melodic.  *horns*
Let your conscience decide !


Hmm, the first thing that occurs to me is that I'm not really used to writing album reviews.  I don't think I'll do each song individually, but I'll give my overall reaction and add comments as appropriate to any responses.

First off, some broad statements.  Initially, I was disappointed.  The album doesn't seem to "rock" as much as I'd hoped.  As others have mentioned, I was looking for the instruments to come forward more, especially Mr. Mitchell's.  Also, I would have liked more of a raw edge (not tremendously raw -- that's not Arena, but at least a little bit).  I'd particularly like to hear Paul Manzi in moments, where he's not perfectly smooth.  No, I'm not calling for metal shouts/grunts/growls.  ;) 

Of course, I knew there was the potential for the album to be a grower -- Arena does not do simple music that you can grasp entirely with one spin.  Happily, it is indeed a grower -- I appreciate it a great deal more after 13 plays (#14 in progress now) than I did at first, and I hope it will continue that trend.  The line-up changes are not an issue.  We already knew John Jowitt, and his return poses no problems.  Paul Manzi is new to us, but it's made clear immediately (perhaps too clear?) that he's a very able singer.  He's surely up to whatever is asked of him, and while he is not the same singer as his predecessors, he seems capable of sounding enough like "the Arena singer" that he doesn't make them sound like a totally different band.

Now some positives ... As a concept album, it hangs together extremely well and at the same time doesn't suffer from what I'll call "concept album disease."  While I can't name a lot of stand-out songs, I also can't point at places and say "this is just a filler song to continue the concept."  Each song is good enough that I wouldn't want to omit it.  Indeed, this is where I think the album succeeds the most: even though it consists of individual songs, not all of which take the same tone, it feels like one complete piece of music.  I don't feel I know the whole message of the album yet, but I consider this a good thing: I don't want to have an album all figured out; I want it to challenge me through many plays.

To sum up, it's not currently one of my favorite Arena albums.  I doubt it will become so, but you never know -- growers sometimes surprise you, and it's easily good enough that I'll keep playing it.  I had hoped they would continue to move in the rockier direction of Pepper's Ghost (I may be in the minority here, but that IS one of my favorites), but I don't feel they did.  On the other hand, it is a very good album, and it makes it clear that Arena is alive, well, and in good hands despite line-up changes.  Also on the plus side, it could be cited as an example of the right way to make a concept album.  When (I hope not just IF) Arena's next album comes out, I can still buy it immediately in the faith that they do not make any bad albums.
"What is that sound?  It's confusing, and boy is it loud!"


Great review Manatee!
I agree to most of your post. And I also agree that it's a grower.
And indeed, Arena do concept albums really well! ;D