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Emanating from England, the quintet known as “Arena” commingles tasty keyboard arrangements with electro-acoustic interludes and bone crushing rhythms on this new release titled, Immortal?. Perhaps the distinguishing factors could be attributed to Rob Sowden’s expressive and at times poignantly dramatic vocals and Clive Nolan’s creative, whimsical yet altogether harmonious and crystalline keyboard charts. Sowden’s often emphatic and/or prophetic vocals provide some extra importance to the lyrics as his near flawless diction and rather poised delivery is to be commended. Viewed as a whole, the band displays cohesive synergy amid a commanding presence although many of these pieces reside within the medium tempo straight-four spectrum.
Essentially, Immortal? does age well on subsequent spins as this group borrows a bit from the past, along with some – gothic – tendencies, yet surge forward with charisma and eloquence. Hence, “Arena” offers a breath of fresh air to a sometimes-stagnant progressive rock scene.
* * * ½ (out of * * * * *)
Rob Sowden; Vocals: John Mitchell; Guitars & Backing Vocals: Clive Nolan; Keyboards and Backing Vocals: Clive Nolan; Keyboards and Backing Vocals: Ian Salmon; Bass: Mick Pointer; Drums
Track listing: 1) Chosen 2) Waiting For The Flood 3) The Butterfly Man 4) Ghost In The Firewall 5) Climbing The Net 6) Moviedrome 7) Friday
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.