(All Album Reviews by maribor)
Arena started as a sort of Marillion tribute band with Clive Nolan and Mick Pointer being the two protagonists in the band. Mick Pointer was the drummer for Marillion on their first album, so it's not strange that there should be some similarities between the two bands. However, with every album Arena started to move away from the Marillion influence and their sound became heavier. They started moving from a neo sound to almost progressive metal. This was especially due to the fact that John Mitchell (guitar) joined the band later in their career.
John Mitchell was already an established member of Arena before Immortal? but vocalist Rob Sowden and bass player Ian Salmon were newcomers. They replaced two important players - John Jowitt (IQ) and Paul Wrightson. Paul Wrightson gave the band a trademark vocal style, similar to Fish, while Jowitt is still one of the best bass players in the business. But the new members are experienced musicians in their own right and they contributed to Arena's new sound and image.
The album starts out slowly with the track Chosen but the track soon picks up pace with a few heavy passages. We get a glimpse that this is going to be a dark album. And we're not wrong. The next track is slower but the oppressive atmosphere persists. The guitar chords remind of Queensryche's “Silent Lucidity”, with some interesting keyboards by Nolan.
Some people say that “The Butterfly Man” is the best track on this album. It certainly is close. It deepens the dark feeling from the first tracks with some amazing keyboard melodies and Nolan's disturbing lyrics. The next track is reminiscent at the start to industrial metal (so is “Chosen”). It is a slower song but just as menacing as the rest.
“Climbing the Net” is the only piece that even vaguely resembles Marillion. The synth line could be likened to “Incommunicado” from the Clutching at Straws album.
But that's where the similarities end. Moviedrome is an epic track that goes through several movements. Some movements sound especially close to some typical progressive metal pieces (the sampled sitar by Nolan with the guitar joining in, for one). This one is also a contender for the best track.
The final song is a nice acoustic number and an appropriate way to finish an album.
Immortal? combines characteristics of neo and progressive metal genres. They would venture even further into metal waters with their next two releases but this one still remains my favourite.
8 out of 10.
(All Album Reviews by PROG Martial)
Genres: Neo-prog some tidbits of prog metal
Comparable to: Marillion, Dream Theater, IQ, Shadow Gallery
Better than: Pride
Not as good as: The Visitor, Contagion, Songs from the Lion Cage
Best songs: “Butterfly Man”, “Moviedrome”
Notes: Arena's 3rd album, new heavier direction works well, definite change in style. Some real gems but overall isn't as memorable as some of their other albums. Contains their first 20 min epic in “Moviedrome”.