Leon : They’re back! The British band Arena returns after just three years to release their thirteenth studio album, ‘Double Vision’. The band certainly doesn’t need an introductions as they have been a synonym for high quality music for years now. It’s to be expected when you have people like Clive Nolan (Pendragon), John Mitchell (Lonely Robot, Kino), and Mick Pointer (Ex-Marillion) in the band. The band’s latest album, ‘The Unquiet Sky’, was the first album of the band that was able to impress me, at least I preferred it over the older albums. I was curious to see whether they would continue the sound that the band had on their last album or if they’d want to go back to the roots.
The question is answered during the very first song ‘Zhivago Wolf’, this is a logical continuation of the sound we heard on ‘The Unquiet Sky’. Actually, all the songs on this album would’ve fit right in on that album, so it seems that the band is happy with the sound and quality of it. Musically everything is sound, like we’d expect, perhaps even better than the last record! The songs’ quality is surprisingly consistent, there are no clear better or worse songs on the album, which is really impressive. ‘The Mirror Lies’ is a really, really, cool song though. Of course, all the musicians do a very good job, yet it’s the vocals of Paul Manzi that impress the most, his vocals just sound really well and the melodies are really nice too. For me that was the main criticism of the older work. Also Clive Nolan deserves a shout-out, his keyboards bring a lot of atmosphere in the music and lift it up to a higher level. The mix and master are done by the band and, unsurprisingly, sounds really good. Fun fact, the drums, keyboards, bass guitars and vocals were recorded in Karl Groom’s (Threshold) Thin Ice Studio.
Fans of Arena’s last album can buy ‘Double Vision’ without any risks, but also progressive rock fans in general will probably like this album a lot too. The music is very accessible but contains enough elements that can keep the prog community in their grasp. In my opinion ‘Double Vision’ is Arena’s best record to this day! Recommended wholehearted.