Arena - The Seventh Degree Of Separation

The Seventh Degree Of Separation
Verglas Music
Six years have passed since “Pepper's Ghost”… and inevitably, there were some line-up changes on the band. Paul Manzi (Raw Glory, The Oliver Wakeman Band) is the new singer and John Jowitt (bass) is back to the band again. Paul has a rougher edge on his voice but all in all, he perfectly fits in the band… this change… the more direct musical style, reminds of Marillion’s second era with Steve Hogarth. The music is still progressive (no doubt about it)… maybe less complex… however you do not have to write down long complex songs so as to become progressive… after all, Arena always had shorter songs in all their albums… then on this album this is the rule… except for the “Catching The Bullet” which is about 8 minutes long.
“The Seventh Degree Of Separation” is a concept album… it describes the first thoughts/minutes of a man passing to the other side… his agony… his confusion… the way that he looks things… a very dark and atmospheric lyrical concept like the music of the album. It’s probably the gloomiest album of the band by far. Maybe that’s the seventh degree of separation… the soul… from the (concrete cell) body… or does it have to do anything with it being the seventh album of Arena as well? Everything is possible…
As I said before, the songs here are more straightforward than in any previous work of the band…they have some hard rock, AOR and melodic rock elements… blended perfectly with the band’s, well known, prog rock music. The songs lead you to the end step by step… the album flows perfectly while listening to it… but then again this is not an easy album… it needs several listens to be part of its dim atmosphere… then, it will offer you a sweet taste of deliverance in the end. The production is top notch and the orchestrations are fantastic… I like that change of mood from song to song very much… it goes in consort with the guy’s disposition… simply amazing…
Perhaps, “The Seventh Degree Of Separation” defines the second era of Arena… In any case, this is an exceptional album… progressive but yet so rock and dark in unison… I won’t separate any songs for I will ruin the shadowy (mood) atmosphere of the album. Maybe, some old fans of the band will find this one not as prog as they wanted it to be… nonetheless, “TSDoS” is a contemporary album of the 10’s that can easily bring new fans on board. After all, isn’t that the challenge of any band… to evolve then expand its musical frontiers… with the purpose of attracting new audiences? Arena has succeeded in it… by releasing one of the best prog rock albums of the year…
PS: “The Seventh Degree Of Separation” is also available as a special edition package which contains a 56 minute long, 13 track cd in a 3 leafed digibook with a 28 page pullout booklet packed with original artwork + a bonus 50 minute DVD “The making of The Seventh Degree Of Separation”, where each member of the band gives you some insight into the process they went through to make the music.