(Inside Out Music America)

ARENA: Immortal? (Inside Out Music America)Prog rockers Arena are back on the scene with their new album, Immortal? The band recruited a new lead vocalist for the album, Rob Sowden. Combine Sowden's vocals (who sounds like Geoff Tate from Queensryche) with the musical side of the band (which sounds eerily like a cross between Queensryche and Fish-era Marillion) and you've got the potential for prog-rock greatness. Unfortunately, all too often the results are bloated and pompous.

"Chosen" gets things off to a great start, and is easily the CD's best track. From there, it's all downhill. "Waiting for the Flood" is merely a ripoff of Queensryche's "Silent Lucidity," from the softly spoken lyrics to the bridge, which comes dangerously close to copyright infringement. From there, you get pretentious dreck like "The Butterfly Man," and for all the techies out there, "Ghost in the Firewall" and "Climbing the Net." Do we really need songs with references to "binary code," "firewalls" and "the rhythm of the fax machine?" I don't think so.

You can't have a prog album without a 20-minute epic, right? Immortal? is no exception. "Moviedrone" runs on for almost that long. And while it has its moments, there really isn't anything to draw you back for a second listen. The CD ends with "Friday's Dream," an overblown acoustic-based whimper of a song that should've been left off the disc. To sum things up, check out "Chosen" and skip the rest.

© 2000 Steve Marshall

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