One of the most interesting items from the “Contagion” tour merchandising is this EP, entitled “Contagious”, a reasonably necessary complement to the LP. This CD includes four brand new songs, and a forgettable remix of “Witch Hunt”, which I will avoid to make any comment.
About the new compositions, they're quite good songs, with the characteristic that they're inserted on the whole of “Contagion”. So that in the booklet it's detailed that “Vanishing Act” and “The Hour Glass” follow “Painted Man”, “Contagious” is next to “On the Box”, and “I Spy” to “Mea Culpa”. “Vanishing Act” and “Contagious” are good instrumentals, sounding close to other “Contagion” tracks like “This Way Madness Lies” or “Riding the Tide”; maybe “Vanishing Act” sounds a bit cold and technological, but “Contagious” is excellent, dark and powerful.
“The Hour Glass” is a good companion to “Spectre at the Feast” or “Salamander”, with an accomplished instrumentation and an excellent vocal work by Rob Sowden. “I Spy” is a brief three minute acoustic song, unremarkable and lacking the typically majestic Arena sound.
It is recommendable, as an experiment, to make a domestic “Contagion” re-editing, inserting the “Contagious” tracks to discover a new perspective of the CD. The result is curious; maybe you miss some unity but, paradoxically, you'll appreciate a more diverse sound.
In addition to the new tracks, there are abundant multimedia features. That is: a screensaver, lyric page, picture gallery, the tour video for “Skin Game”, vocal tracks sung by John Mitchell, etc... Specially interesting are the video that follows “Skin Game” on the live shows, very imaginative and dynamic, and the screensaver, a compendium of images from the excellent artwork by David Wyatt and band pictures. The John Mitchell vocal tracks (entitled “Ghost Vocals”), I guess recorded by the guitarist as a guide for Rob Sowden (who doesn't compose), are mere curiosities, since that he doesn't excel on his singing abilities.
In short, a brief but interesting release, a must for any Arena and Nolan collector. And don't forget another great artwork job by David Wyatt.