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Asia Silent Nation Inside Out Music
08560842
· Produced By: Downes & Payne

· Running Time: 58.20

· Release Date: August 30

· Released: WORLD

· Musical Style: Progressive / Melodic Rock

· Links: Asia
90%
Songs: 90%
Sound: 90%
Asia's new album comes as a break in tradition – the band dropping their regular choice of an album title with an 'A' in favor of a more poignant title – Silent Nation.
The music within however, is still very familiar, if not just that little bit different.
The band, which have carried on successfully in recent years with the nucleus of keyboardist Geoff Downes and singer John Payne, have recorded one of their best efforts since their heyday.
I wasn't sold on their last studio album Aura – finding it just a little bit too predictable and laid back. Naturally I was set upon by a number of Asia fans, but there were others that agreed with me.
The line up for Silent Nation is a tighter 4-piece arrangement, with no rotating player list present. It's simply Geoffrey Downes (Keyboards), John Payne (Vocals, Bass), Chris Slade (Drums) and Guthrie Govan (Guitar).
Silent Nation is a great release and one that is destined to satisfy most Asia fans and I expect comments and reviews to be more unified than that last album.
Asia are never going to be a hard rock outfit, but this album is definitely more uptempo and has a stronger rock feel. The guitar plays a more prominent role this time around with Geoff Downes' flawless keyboard and organ parts providing a essential foundation for the memorable songs.
Track By Track:
There are some really memorable pop/rock moments on Silent Nation. The lyrically deep and dark What About Love?, which opens the album is the perfect blend of keyboard and organ with guitar and a tougher vocal delivery from Payne.
Then Asia deliver what could easily be one of their best ever songs in the form of the anthem Long Way From Home. This easy flowing, uptempo song promises faith, hope and promise, with a monster chorus and one of the best Payne vocals I've heard.
Another catchy little uptempo pop track Midnight harks back to the band's 80's sound, with a catchy little keyboard riff heightening those feelings.
Blue Moon Monday is a long, dark and dramatic piece, with a haunting organ accompanying Payne's raspy delivery.
Silent Nation is another fairly long track, with more organ and a U2-ish lead guitar riff and a tough talking chorus.
Ghost In The Mirror is a Peter Gabriel styled pop track which for me marks another memorable moment. This track features a wonderful chorus, with a certain feel good sing-a-long factor and more rich organ accompaniment.
Gone Too Far is a sparse, orchestral style rock ballad, with a ton of passion and a very emotional delivery from John Payne.
I Will Be There For You picks the tempo up again, in a song with a pop heart, but rock delivery thanks to a solid guitar presence. Another strong chorus outlines the band's successful attempts to create an album of memorable songs.
Darkness Day is a musically interesting track, again highlighting a sparse and atmospheric feel. Slow to build, it is a rather dramatic track that requires several listens to be able to familiarize oneself with.
The Prophet is another bare bones track that sees Payne leading the track with soft keyboard backing into a slow guitar solo passage and back to keyboards. A trademark "experimental" Asia track.
The Bottom Line
Silent Nation is a very well thought out, well written and perfectly executed record that sees the guys really nail that full band sound. The extra emphasis on guitar and the lifting of the tempo on several tracks help make this a very memorable album and one of their best records in several years.
Previously Reviewed
· Aura
· Silent Nation

Line Up
· John Payne: Vocals, Bass
· Guthrie Govan: Guitar
· Chris Slade: Drums
· Geoffrey Downes: Keyboards

Essential for fans of:
· Asia
· Dare
Track Listing
· What About Love*
· Long Way From Home*
· Midnight
· Blue Moon Monday
· Silent Nation*
· Ghost In The Mirror*
· Gone Too Far
· I Will Be There For You
· Darkness Day
· The Prophet
--*Best Tracks


02/11/05: jameskelley - jkelley6.1@netzero.com
Rating: 99
THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST PRODUCED ALBUMS THAT IVE HEARD IN A LONG TIME . THEY HAVE NOT MISSED A BEET IN WHAT THEY ARE DOING .THIS IS JUST WELL ROUNDED ALBUM FROM THE FIRST SONG TO THE LAST

19/10/04: Hanuk Baac - meduza@freechal.com
Rating: 70
The main problem is, this doesn't sound like Asia. Keyboards have always been a huge part of traditional Asia sound, but this time keys are too restricted in my ears, and guitars are way too loud, and too muddy. With Silent Nation, Asia sounds similar to Silent Rage.

21/09/04: Stefan Grimbs - grimbsel@aol.com
Rating: 93
In spite of others revieweres i think it's a very good album. It's for every fan wether you like the old era or the new one. All songs are real ASIA. My favorites are Long Way From Home, Blue Moon Monday, Ghost In The Mirror, Midnight(could be a song from 1982) and Silent Nation. You have to listen more then one time to the album. Very good production, strong songs and a real asia-feeling in the lyrics.The guys play good together. It's a unique sound. Keep on rocking...ASIA...Wait to see you in germany...

15/09/04: Dan - dan_mac62@hotmail.com
Rating: 80
Just got the new Asia album the other day & as anyone who has stayed with them this long through this many lineup changes should be @ the very least open minded.Personally I preferred the last album,"Aura",to this one as a band because of it's huge talent sounds best when "over the top"production is utilised.Also as for John Wetton,love his voice,but since he left the band Asia has still maintained an amazing level of professionalism & tasteful & very beautiful nuances in their music that does require time & repeated listens to fully appreciate.As far as the artwork goes,always loved Roger Dean & Rodney Matthews fantasy cover art,sometimes coloring the ingredients within,so the proof as they say" is in the pudding".The pudding in this case is a band who is willing to strip away any pretenciouness in favour of a true band feel which they certainly have accomplished.It's a good album,not a great one ,personal favourite being the hauntingly beautiful "Blue Monday" & "Ghost in the Mirror".This is not that far removed from what Asia have been doing since Mr.Wetton left,not disappointing but not a killer either,the DVD is kind of cool showing the guys as pretty down to earth,funny part @ the end,John Payne quoting Derrick Smalls from Spinal Tap'"have a good time ,all the time".

15/09/04: Hendricus Lulofs - hlulofs@adelphia.net
Rating: 92
This is a very good album. All songs but one (Darkness Day) are strong. My favorite is "Long Way From Home" which is on my top 5 ASIA songs from any era. Other very strong tracks are: "Blue Moon Monday, Ghost In The Mirror, I will Be There For You and Silent Nation". Some of these songs took 2 or 3 spins to sink in. The lyrics and instruments are rich and sophisticated. ASIA...Congratulations on a superb release!

12/09/04: steve powis - spowis@btopenworld.com
Rating: 60
Like all the others below, I awaited the release of this with some anticipation. I have always been a big fan of Asia, whether that be Wetton or Payne.
Some of the promo reviews I read stated that this was a step back to a "real rock" album and very much in the vein of Aria, which is my favourite John Payne-Asia release.
I cannot agree on either count. I would see it much more as a Prog-rock release and if up tempo anthems is your thing, this is definitely not for you. There is no "Anytime", "Heaven" or "Military Man" here. It doesn't have the laid back feel like AURA either and is quite dark.

That said I still like much of the release, "What about love" is a brooding, anthem-like starter and I found that as a whole,it got better with more plays, particularly tracks like "Silent Nation" and "Blue Moon Monday". "Ghost in the Mirror" is fairly commercial, but there are no other tracks that fall into that category.

In summary a release that does get better with more plays, but not a feelgood, uplifting release. It sets a new direction, (some may say "again ?"), and is a solid, if unspectacular piece of work.

10/09/04: Mark - mark@wyse583.freeserve.co.uk
Rating: 85
An enjoyable album with an impressive sound and some great guitar work from Guthrie who knows exactly when to lay back and let the song take precedence, (a rare talent these days). Generally speaking, I enjoyed their last album, but for me this is better written and better produced but still finds itself blessed with the same high degree of musical expertise. The packaging is superb and great value, which is worth a couple of marks in itself, especially in these days of child-like packaging. Standout tracks for me are tracks 1 & 2 which are sublime AOR efforts. I have all of Asia's back-catalogue and I agree that they are not the band they once were, but they still are among the best around.

05/09/04: Dave M - djmayerfzr@hotmail.com
Rating: 30
Well it appears that Tigran said it all (and more and more!!) but I must say that I agree with pretty much all that he has said. This purchase was such a huge disappointment that I will simply sell it on ebay as soon as possible. I will try to summarise.......I own all the Wetton era albums and pretty much like them all but do see the drops in quality as they progressed. In terms of the Payne fronted albums I have never been a fan but do own Aqua and recognise that it does have some excellent tracks. Post Aqua I have always listened to the releases but never purchased as they always sounded mediocre and that voice never did it for me, until Aura which, when I heard it, amazed me.The music was fantastic, his voice was smooth and controlled and some of the lyrics (although not Paynes on the better tracks) were thought provoking and well written, it was bought and gets loads of time on the CD. I approached Silent Nation then filled with anticipation that it may continue, for me, an upward spiral with Asia. Fraid not-this is dull dull dull, there is no passion in the music, the lyrics are just so crass and lifeless and Paynes voice doesn't know if it should be smooth and controlled or a raspy gravelly mixture of Brian Johnson (AC.DC) and Bryan Adams, either way it just doesn't work. It feels like Asia have simply ran out of ideas and are now just going through the motions. The album runs on but every track just feels like it comes and goes leaving you cold and empty and hoping that the next one will have you reaching for the repeat button...then it's all over. I know music is sooo subjective and that one mans meat is another mans poison but I think that fans of similar genres do, in most cases, tend to agree on the really good albums (read the 'your reviews' section on M.R.COM!!!) and we all love shelling out the cash and getting home to hear those good or great albums that we read about. But Silent Nation just is NOT one of them. It is ultimately very forgetable, uninteresting and flat.

04/09/04: Bob Gerszewski - bob@gerszewski.net
Rating: 94
I was stunned at how much I enjoyed this album, on the first listen. I am a huge Asia fan and have virtually all of their releases in over 20 years. I was skeptical of what I would hear, but it knocked my socks off on the VERY FIRST LISTEN, and Asia fans worldwide know that previous releases required many listens to connect to, per se.

Needless to say, this album is wonderful. Some words I can use to describe it (rather than go into a track by track analysis are:

-uplifting
-catchy
-precise
-melodic
-powerful
-contemplative
-fresh and new
-accessible
-bright
-well 'crafted'

The packaging for the album is superb. I have the bonus DVD version which eschews the standard Jewel case for what is literally an expensive small bound 'book', with many cool photos and other goodies. Normally I hate anything besides the trusty jewel case, but the packaging alone is worth a purchase.

Aside from the previous dissenter I am willing to GUARANTEE that you will have many extremely positive reviews of this CD on this website and many other spots on the internet. There is a subset of Asia fans that have never embraced the Payne era music. This CD more than proves (not that it needs to, of course) that both 'eras' of Asia have produced an amazing musical history.

As the man I was standing next to in the Best Buy said today as I picked the CD out of the rack, "That is a REALLY GREAT ALBUM". How often do you get that spontaneous and unsolicited response picking out tunes in the local Best Buy?

By the way, all musical performances on this CD are awesome and very tight! Guthrie Govan on guitar dazzles in spots. Geoff Downes' musical stylings are as expert as ever, and we all know Chris Slade can pound out a precise and lifting beat. John Payne's vocals are rich, sweet, crisp, and colorful like a glass of red wine from a treasured bottle.

Best tracks:

What About Love (no, its not a remake version of the Hair Era Wilson sisters / Heart)

Long Way From Home - way catchy hooks

Silent Nation - did THE EDGE guest on this? LOL

Ghost in the Mirror - 'anthemic'

I Will Be There For You - uplifting.

They are all good.

Thanks for reading!


Bob



04/09/04: Tigran Hasic - tigran@swissinfo.org
Rating: 25
Arizona Congressman Morris Udall said once that ‘if you can find something everyone agrees on, it's wrong.’ I can’t say that I fully go along with this but in the case of Silent Nation I would concur. Asia’s new release “Silent Nation” is just simply put – silent! It does not work. This new release is getting very positive reviews from all corners but it seems that people are somehow letting the first excitement and the lure of the ‘new’ get in the way of the big picture. The big picture is rather clear in this case and reveals itself with ‘harsh’ reality: this is not Asia anymore – the old one nor the new one. The hardline critics would go so far in saying that Asia died on the day John Wetton left the band and when Carl Palmer and Steve Howe called it quits. A tough task was left for Geoff Downes to somehow save (and revive) this band and the unique sound it created during the 80’s and at the same time reinventing it as much as possible to keep it fresh & dynamic. This was a difficult task that proved almost an impossible obstacle, but at the same time it also worked out into a fairly successful achievement. John Payne’s voice (Asia’s new vocalist) and creative capabilities have helped enormously in that respect. The albums that followed the legendary original trilogy of Asia never continued the former glory but also refused to surrender offering something new and promising.

However, the current line-up of the band and the writing as well as the performance have definitely succeeded in NOT recreating the definitive and powerful (wall of sound) Asia atmosphere. Silent Nation is an album very far & away from the anthemic and soaring melodies of the past and from the melancholic and distinct sound it created. It is a strong thematic, progressive album which is definitely worth our attention, especially that it falls within the framework of new quality releases of an array of (new) melodic Supergroups popping out today like mushrooms after rain. That is where the danger lies. Although we may hail this release as a fresh and strong (as said, even progressive) effort it will just end up in the sea of new releases that we cannot even pronounce. Can you really recall how Vertigo, Coastland Drive, 101 South, Harlan Cage, trail by Fire, Pride of Lions, Over the Edge, Seventh Key, Outland, Norway, Fatal Attraction, Metropolis, Khymera, Spin Gallery, Vital Signs, Under Suspicion, Hardline, Drive She Said, Elements of Friction, On the Rise, Urban Tale, etc. sound like…yeah I could go on and on and on. Of course you could remember, but it becomes a labyrinth of names and similar soundings. Silent Nation follows that paved course with diligent precision. It runs the fast train of current, exciting but kitschy and short-lived melodic rock mediocrity. Steve Perry said correctly after Journey’s release Trial by Fire that established and defining sound groups need not to reinvent themselves. That’s what Steve Lukather used to say for Toto. And we may ask: why should they at the end of the day? Those that think this is the release in the spirit of albums like “Asia” and “Alpha” are completely misinterpreting the music from Silent Nation or are living in denial. This is probably the most distant point that one could come from the original Asia and even the new one. There is nothing left, in terms of vocals, guitars, drums and keyboards. This release does not even continue on the paths of “Aria” or “Aura”. Maybe there is some reminiscence of a vanishing dream from “Arena”, but that’s about it.

All in all, this is short of any triumphant return for Asia. It is alos a very ‘dangerous’ phase for the group that could end up in the main stream and anchor itself for good into a position of current melodic oblivion and lobotomy. The hallmark of Asia was always – it was damn different, recognizable and unique! Now it is like the rest of the ‘quality’ melodic, hatched clones today. Some reviewers say that the ‘band has definitely come full circle and the album is definitely a solid group effort’. Solid effort yes - full circle almost. There is no turning back for Asia now. The road ahead is also completely unknown in the sense of reaching grandeur. Isn’t that what Asia is all about? Otherwise, with the changing the usual Asia album title name, the change of groups name could have come easily in this case. To be perfectly honest – it should have happened. It would have been much better and then Silent Nation could have been the new name for the group that has now very, very little with the Asia we knew. This release could fit nicely within the huge group (only a few were mentioned) of the today’s melodic arena self titled and short-lived but quality releases.

Silent Nation is a rather smartly thought out theme project, fairly well written lyrically and musically but unfortunately poorly executed in comparison to previous releases. The mistake of not bringing a producer again (Aura benefited very much from Simon Hanharts touch) surfaced again. The current lineup somehow is not able to reach the full powerful Asia band sound that we always liked and admired. The extra emphasis on guitars (Govan) completely overshadows the keyboards (Downes) and the drumming (Slade) becomes just a half-momentum of lifting the tempo on albums tracks. Govan is not Howe nor Meyer nor Pitrelli. Slade is definitely not Palmer and not (when he is on top of his game – like on Aria) Michael Sturgis. Every song has a life of its own. Some would say this is good, some would say it’s not. The problem is not so much in divergent and eclectic songs but it more in ‘being remembered’ and ‘being memorable’. As soon as Silent Nation reaches its last song the listener is not able to remember the first one. Why? There is no continuum on the album. Having a theme is not enough. The music must flow. They used to say that one needed a few listens of Police’s milestone album “Synchronicity” so that it would work. This one on the other hand could take you a lifetime to remember. John Payne’s voice is great but inconsistent on most of the tracks. It seems his vocal capabilities are just a blur here as the songs do not carry the momentum. It just seems that this is not a tight outfit like on Aura. This could have been a very memorable release and maybe, just maybe - the best record in post Wetton Asia years, if done in a completely different way. Unfortunately it is far from that. Even John Wetton’s solo releases come much closer (even with the fact that he was not able to continue the momentum Asia created showing that it was a group effort above all). If this band really wants (what clearly seems) a ‘new start’, and for the first time quit completely with the Asia tradition, then they need to start fresh too and not call themselves Asia. And as another reviewer pointed out that if the band were to really come to the fullest circle, Wetton, Howe and Palmer need to come back. Right now this is science fiction, but science and fiction have a way of coming together. Payne & Downes have come to a crossroad which looks more like a cul-de-sac than anything else. They have the musical quality to make a tremendous release and put Asia close to the possibility of being grand again, just enough to get a shot at (let’s be really wishful thinkers and ‘Kings of the Day’) a Grammy comeback. That seems like an impossible dream now. If one is content on just surviving and vegetating then this release is fine. The sad thing is that Payne & Downes duo is much more than that which makes this release an important milestone. Certain groups do not need to reinvent themselves, they just need to dig deep and bring back the best within them. Complying with the current trends was not Asia’s hallmark. Being unique was. Let’s hope it is not already too late for that after this non-essential release.

29/08/04: Freddy De Keyzer - freddydekeyzer@hotmail.com
Rating: 92
SUPERB new Asia record ! What a band ! And that after all these years !
A FANTASTIC mix of AOR and prog rock, and done with extremely much class !
This is their best release in years and without a shadow of a doubt, together with the new Stan Bush, ALBUM OF THE YEAR so far.
Head and shoulders above any competition. You know that I don't give easy a 90 rating or more (only 4 times till now), but this one deserves it. BUY OR DIE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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