Dark Arena – Worlds Of Horror
Pure Steel Records
Release Date: 27/08/2021
Running Time: 39:45
Review by Simon Black
When music like this hits my desk, it always brings something of a lump to my throat. Dark Arena have been around for a while in various guises and have staggered out a number of records to date. I say staggered because one is their original 2006 EP that was repackaged and expanded last year, another a compilation, making this effectively their fifth full length studio album. It’s also sadly their last, as string-virtuoso Paul Konjicija sadly passed away in 2019. This recording was made in 2018 and is effectively an epitaph to both him and the band.
Given that they did not have the luxury of being able to go back and post-produce and touch up in the standard way, I suspect that the mix we have here is fairly close to what was laid down in the studio. I come to this conclusion because the engineering jumps around a little and, overall, could do with a bit more depth of field being added to the mix, as vocals and instruments don’t always flow cohesively as a band. If the vocals were slightly further back in the mix this would have sounded perfect.
This is a minor issue though, because what stands out on this album first and foremost are Konjicija’s quite significant musical chops. He takes both bass and all guitar duties on the recordings and is an incredibly proficient player – whichever part or instrument that he is playing. The overall sound is the kind of USA sound that blends the technical proficiency of Progressive Metal with the attitude and structures common to Thrash. The tracks that work best are when they keep things short, sweet and Thrashy, with ‘Sacred Rite’standing out as the strongest song on here, not only from having the punchiest arrangement, but because is also makes the most effective use of Juan Ricardo’s vocal range. That said, like most work with a Progressive edge, it benefits from multiple listens that give the opportunity for the depth crafted into the arrangements to come to the fore. A fitting epitaph.
‘Dark Arena’ (Official Lyric Video)
01. Worlds Of Horror
02. Dark Arena
03. Annunaki Arise
04. Damnation Within
05. Bite The Bullet
06. Kill Procedure
07. Sacred Rite
08. Destiny Bridge
Juan Ricardo – Vocals
Paul Konjicija – Bass & Guitars
Noah Buchanan – Drums & Keyboards
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