Arena – The Theory of Molecular Inheritance

9/10

When Arena arrived on the prog rock scene in 1995 with their triumphant debut album, “Songs From the Lions Cage”, they did so fully formed. They had already found their own sound and their mix of 1970s progressive rock, hard rock with a dash of 80s Marillion was manna from heaven for many a starving proglover. The only two members that remain from that time are Sir Clive of The Nolans… I mean keyboardist Clive Nolan (Pendragon, Shadowlands, Casino) and drummer Mick Pointer (ex-Marillion) but that hasn’t changed the bands direction very much. The main reason behind that is that Nolan is in many ways the musical director of the ensemble and writes the lions share of the material as well as all the lyrics. And Clive never releases anything even remotely weak.

“The Theory of Molecular Inheritance” is the first album with veteran singer, Damian Wilson (ex-Threshold, Ayreon, Headspace) behind the mic and fans have been speculating just how well he would fit as Arenas frontman ever since it was revealed that he was the bands new vocalist.

So just how does he fit in then? Snug as a bug in a rug, I’d say. In Damian they now have the most versatile singer of their 27 year long career and considering that his predecessor was the amazing Paul Manzi, that is some high praise indeed. Having had the pleasure of witnessing the vocalist perfectly deliver “And The Druids Turned to Stone” without breaking a sweat during the awe inspiring Ayreon Universe gigs in 2017 I can only imagine what he can do with Arena’s older songs.

But I digress…

So let’s take a look at the album then, shall we?

Arena is one of the few bands that are incredibly consistent. Every single record they have released so far has been musical works of art. The arrangements are sublime, the melodies are beautiful and the lyrics are some of the most well written you could ever encounter. The bands last album, “Double Vision” was heralded as the Album of The Year by yours truly so now the question is; how does it compare to its predecessor?

Well, just check my score, stop reading my inane ramblings and go online and order a copy, will you?! This train leaves for Goosebump City and by sweet Sodoms seldom seen selleri stalks does it deliver! From the amazingly heavy opener “Time Capsule” where Damian Wilson’s soaring vocals leads the listener through a winding maze of melodies to John Mitchell’s (Lonely Robot) wonderful, heartfelt guitar solo on “Under The Microscope”. The epic closing track “Life Goes On” could be Arena’s new sing along classic together with the timeless “Crying For Help Part I-VIII”.

I also must give  shout out to timekeeper Mick Pointer who’s performance on “TToMI” is simply stellar. Never the most equilibristic drummer but here he sounds great, tight and groovy at the same time. Together with the incredible Kylan Amos on bass, they form a formidable rhythm section.

Oh, what about Sir Clive then? Uhm, he’s awesome, like as per usual, of course. Focusing more on building song structures with sweeping, majestic swirls of keyboards than letting his inner Rick Wakeman out to play like he did during the earlier eras of the band. He always plays for the greater good of the song and it is just a joy to hear him. Mr Nolan is one of my favourite keyboard players and lyricist of all time.

Holy crap on a slightly less holy cracker! I have forgotten to mention that “The Theory of Molecular Inheritance” is a concept album! And I freaking love concept albums! I rate Dream Theater’s “Metropolis Part II – Scenes From a Memory”, Queensryche’s classic “Operation: Mindcrime” and The Neal Morse Band’s “Similitude of a Dream” and basically every single Ayreon album as some of the finest music ever recorded. And now I can add “TToMI” to that collection of awesome as well.

This is just brilliant and, in a equitable, fair world, it should be topping charts the world over. It is nothing short of spectacular that Arena can create another masterpiece ten studio albums and 27 years into their career. Absolutely phenomenal and highly, highly recommended!

Artist: Arena
Title: The Theory of Molecular Inheritance
Rating: 9/10
Label: Verglas
Playing time: 56 minutes
Release date: 21 october 2022
Standout tracks: Time Capsule, Confession, The Heiligenstadt Legacy, Life Goes On

Tracklist:

1. Time Capsule (5:30)
2. The Equation (The Science of Magic) (6:28)
3. Twenty-One Grams (6:34)
4. Confession (2:20)
5. The Heiligenstadt Legacy (5:42)
6. Field of Sinners (6:27)
7. Pure of Heart (6:18)
8. Under the Microscope (6:51)
9. Integration (4:48)
10. Part of You (5:54)
11. Life Goes On (5:11)

Arena – The Theory of Molecular Inheritance

October 20, 2022

This train leaves for Goosebump City and by sweet Sodoms seldom seen selleri stalks does it deliver!

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