Rating: 9 /10
Label: Verglas Records 2011
Review by Martien Koolen
My last review of a new Arena album - "Pepper's Ghost" - was back in 2005, so it took these progressive rockers 6 years to come up with a new album, but what an album it has become! Singer Rob Sowden left the band in 2010 and he was replaced by
Paul Manzi; later on bass player Ian Salmon also left the band and he was replaced
by good "old" John Jowitt. So, this is the first album with the new vocalist and it
is again a conceptalbum dealing with the last hour here on earth and the first hour
in the after life; if there is one of course.... It is a rather morbid theme and the
booklet is also filled with dark and rather gruesome pictures, but the music is
The album opens with the spoken words of Manzi before "The Great Escape"
evolves into a bombastic prog rock track with some mean and lean guitar hooks by
John Mitchell. The latter being very present at this album as he upgrades this album
by his marvellous guitar licks, riffs, hooks, melodies and amazing solos.. In
"Catching The Bullet" - the longest track on the album - he plays one of his best
guitar solos ever. "One Last Au Revoir" features an amazing addictive VERY catchy
chorus, while follow up "The Ghost Walks" is again filled with very dark lyrics.
"Close Your Eyes" is a rather experimental song, while "Bed Of Nails" has
outstanding guitar melodies and wonderful vocal passages. But as I already mentioned
before, the absolute highlight is the longest track called "Catching The Bullet"
where Mitchell and Co go wild and this is what I was waiting for. I truly wished
that the entire album was like this, but the other 12 songs are really awesome neo
prog songs as well.
The weakest link is still Nick Pointer, as the other musicians Nolan (keyboard walls
all over the album), Mitchell (superb guitar playing), Jowitt (great bass player) and
new singer Manzi really kick ass! This album grows on you and it is certainly one of
the highlights of this year! Buy it, put it in your CD player and enjoy it over and