Artist:  Arabia
   Title: Welcome To The Freakshow
   Label: Z Records

Following the '1001 Nights' record ARABIA would undergo a serious overhaul in personnel during 2002 with only frontman John Blaze surviving, fast-forward to 2011 and Blaze returned to the British stages after some ten years at this years Z Rock Festival, under the Arabia moniker once more.  Joining Blaze on stage where Vince O’Regan on guitar, Steve McKenna on bass, Lee Morris on drums and Irvine Parratt on keyboards and they delivered one of the sets of the day for me, they also introduced the crowd to a few songs off the new Arabia album ‘Welcome To The Freakshow’.

The album itself is a harder edged beast than the bands debut release '1001 Nights', which at the time was a fine album, but 'Welcome To The Freakshow' is a stronger release and more fitting with today’s Hard Rock scene.  This is felt from the off with the opener and title track ‘Welcome To The Freakshow’, a hard rockers delight that gets started with the obligatory intro, before the full force of the track is unleashed with a big tuned out guitar lick before Blaze unleashes a Cooperesque vocal.  Never mind 'Welcome To The Freakshow', it's more like 'Welcome To My Nightmare'.  As a big Alice Cooper fan this one really gets the old juices flowing and there is an angst in the vocal that AC would be well proud of.

The hard rockin' continues with ‘No Place Like Home’, the intro gets this one underway before the gentle almost sombre vocal from Blaze that really hits home on this one. This like the opener, I heard for the first time at Z Rocks and I was blown away then, just as I am now with the studio versions of both these opening tracks.

The album continues to impress with the stunning ‘Last Temptation’, a real hard nosed rocker that just oozes class with its fiery licks and thumping rhythm section.  Then it’s the modern rocker ‘Strange Days’ featuring a much darker vibe than the previous tracks.

Another of my favourite tracks off the album has to be meaty lick filled ‘Jesus Wept’, a real slice of Heavy Rock with the emphasis on the Heavy, but this is ballad in comparison to the massive ‘Scarecrow’.  Now here’s a monster of a track and I mean MONSTER.  This one has a Zodiac Mindwarp / Alice Cooper ‘Feed My Frankenstein’ feel about it.  Big chunky bass lines running through it against Blaze's angst filled vocal which really brings this monster to life.

It's back to the traditional Hard Rock with ‘Crush’, again big licks drive this one ever forward, then it's time for another slice of the darker side of Blaze with the excellent ‘Blood Runs Blind’.  This one has a kind of early Sabbathesque feel to it, right from its heady bass and deliberate stirring riffs.

Speaking of grinding riffs ‘Beggars Bag’ is full of them.  Another dark hard rocker that leads into the album closer, the all revved-up ‘Drive’. A real pedal to the metal closer the mixes GnR with Judas Priest.  An unusual mix that works really well.  This closes a quite different album from the bands 2001 debut and a change which I think is going to appeal to a larger audience.  This is Arabia extreme and I for one can’t wait to see Blaze return to these shores because this album rocks big style and these songs deserve to be heard live.

Tracklisting:

1. Welcome To The Freakshow
2. No Place Like Home
3. Last Temptation
4. Strange Days
5. Jesus Wept
6. Scarecrow
7. Crush
8. Blood Runs Blind
9. Beggars Bag
10. Drive
 

                   

 

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