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Friday, September 17, 2021

Review: Dark Arena – Worlds of Horror

Label: Pure Steel Records

Date: August 27th, 2021

Well this sucks! I’ve only learned of this band and it is likely they are about to stop their activities. The unfortunate passing of the creative leader, Mr. Paul Konjicija, will probably lead to cease and desist for Dark Arena. Though I cannot be sure.

However, the man left with a swansong. And what a song it is.

By the way, it would seem that “Worlds of Horror” was to be a comeback album after a six years break from studio performance. The sad circumstances led to postponing the record for a few years. Leaving us with a high quality album and a question about the future of the band.

At the time this album was created and recorded, the future was no short of bright for Dark Arena. “Worlds of Horror” is a material to be proud of. Epitomizing the true US heavy metal scene, the band was surely on its way to greater audiences. Perhaps even a wider overseas recognition.

So, what’s so special about this album? After all, aren’t the US bands, of the similar musical prominence, often overlooked by the global crowds? They sure are! And for a good reason, too. As opposed to their thrashing or death metal countrymen, the traditional heavy metal, apart of a couple of rare exceptions, always fell behind European counterparts. They (often) failed to produce globally accepted evergreen hits. Simply put, the quality was there, but the albums still fell short of being among the stardom of heavy metal world.

Something similar is happening with Dark Arena. But there is one thing. The songs on “Worlds of Horror” are actually quite good. Okay, there are none that will secure them headlining slots on the biggest festivals on Earth, but still, they are catchy and memorable enough, in all aspects. So much so that the album goes for almost forty minutes of rock solid pleasure for any headbanging soul out there.

But what does it sound like? Here’s a bit of a tricky one. If I were to name the bands Dark Arena reminds me of, I would name Queensrÿche, King Diamond and Dream Theater. With just a pinch of the German weight added to the mix. In other words, “Worlds of Horror” is very technically advanced. Bordering on progressive, but still metal enough so that it’s not all about the musicianship.

There’s a definite King Diamond vibe floating around, especially in the highly expressive vocal delivery and the overall atmosphere. Also, I get the feeling the album is revolving around a specific theme, so it might also be conceptual. That would bring another aspect to the resemblance to the infamous Dane. And Queensrÿche with their legendary “Mindcrime” opus.

The free flowing melodies progression, along the lines of what Dream Theater did on their early albums is also among the qualities that mark “Worlds of Horror”.

Okay, I could add more names to this equation, but I believe this is enough for you to get the picture. To immortalize this record needs much more, but a fitting goodbye of a very creative mind, without a shadow of doubt, it is. An album I could easily recommend as an example of the 21st century take on the classics. In these circumstances, simply impressive.