|Asia Phoenix||Frontiers Records|
Asia return in full pomp and ceremony for their first release under the original line-up in many a year. I was quite a fan of the Payne lead band, so that was disappointing to see that go south, but when any band's classic line-up returns, it is hard to argue with that.|
This – as expected – is a perfectly produced and well thought out release, returning to the band's classic sound, lead by vocalist John Wetton, who sounds in fine form after recent health issues.
Asia's return was always going to happen once Wetton joined forces with Geoff Downes in Wetton Downes and I see this release as an extension of those releases, mixed with the band's early records.
There are attempts to recreate that glorious pomp sound as best demonstrated by the opening AOR anthem Never Again and the inspired closing pop sounds of An Extraordinary Life.
In between we get soulful ballads, extended instrumental passages, a couple of progressive left turns and more classic Asia pomp.
Nothing's Forever is another fine pop song as is the eternally happy sounding Alibis.
Shadow Of A Doubt is another highlight and a throw back to the 80s pomp/pop of early Asia. Nice keyboard work here from Downes and a solid chorus.
Elsewhere there is a more laid back tone to the album, especially on the two epics, both of which clock on over 8 minutes in length.
Heroine is a classy big Wetton ballad, and I love the guitar work on Over And Over.
But I am betting that most fans of the band and their most acclaimed line-up will be mostly satisfied with this release. The length of the album and its varied musical content should keep those fans busy for quite a while.
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