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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Asia - Omega CD review

Asia – Omega CD review (Released on Frontiers records)
Release date: May / June 2010

For a band like Asia it must be tough to try and emulate or even come close – to be 100% honest – to what they achieved in their first few years existence, which of course is like a lifetime ago now (1982).

Of course the band has been through a number of changes over the years with only Geoff Downes being the solitary mainstay all through the bands journey. John Wetton left to some solo work, a brief joint venture with Carl Palmer in Qango and even the Icon project work with Geoff Downes, which is possibly the driving factor behind the reunion a few years back.
Carl Palmer has been doing drum clinics, solo work and dabbling with E.L.P. again as well. Steve Howe has been doing the Yes gig and of course various side bits and pieces too.
So, I know what you wanting to know … What’s this latest Asia release like?
Well, without further ado, here’s the lowdown! 

Opening track here ‘Finger on the Trigger’ has picked up a reasonable amount of airplay, all things considered and I must say that on first hearing I wasn’t overawed by the track, as it doesn’t really hark of more glorious Asia days.
Still, as far as this album goes it’s certainly as strong as anything here, perhaps one of the better tracks.

Next up, ‘Through My Veins’ is a fairly safe laid back affair for the most part although Howe’s guitar almost gets a little heavy at one point. Just an OK track to me to be honest, nothing more ... What seems sad of late with Asia is the lack of really, driving lead keyboard work from Geoff Downes. Nothing here on a par with say ‘Only Time Will Tell,’ ‘Heat of the Moment,’ ‘Go!’ or even ‘Don’t Cry’ to be honest.
‘Holy War’ gets the tempo going again after a built up beginning and I do like it. Again, it’s not massive compared to some of their previous years of anthems, but still a nice slice of AOR.

In ‘Ever Yours’ it’s starts almost hymnal like, before getting into a steady ballad groove. It’s OK.

I do like next track ‘Listen, Children’ which has a sound that would probably work well as a single if it could get the airplay. A more pop rock tune, very commercial and certainly hit worthy.

Then with ‘End of the War’ it’s more of the prog rock type track at the start, building up and up at the beginning before easing into a more ballad type verse and chorus and to be honest stays there for the most part, before revisiting and repeating the intro midway through, then finishing a little more involved.

‘Light the Way,’ next is a little more intricate in almost a Yes type fashion and should be more of a pleaser for prog rock fans who still follow the band.

Interesting to have a bonus track midway through an album, but ‘Emily’ is that bonus track next and certainly seems to have more of a pop rock, almost a sub-Beatles type direction, then goes a little psychedelic prog before coming back into the verse and chorus again. Interesting …

‘I’m Still The Same’ next as a mid paced pop rocker say ala E.L.O. and it’s OK, fairly steady number.

On a slightly different track is, ‘There Was a Time’ which is laid back with an almost renaissance type feel and it’s a difference in this set of songs that really appeals. It starts with just a piano and gentle percussion and then about two thirds in, it picks up with the full band. I like it, I really do.

OK back to big time AOR rock and ‘I Believe’ and it’s a winner from the start! Almost to a ‘Don’t Cry’ level, good stuff indeed and tasty solo from Steve Howe!

Final track here is, ‘Don’t Wanna To Lose You Now’ and the way it started almost had me singing Bryan Adams ‘Heaven!’ It’s a fairly safe and easy going number, again as compared previously elsewhere here, almost E.L.O. like.

This album overall for me is very safe, if a little light overall, but after John Wetton having gone through heart surgery probably not too long before the band did this album, perhaps why. His voice is still as familiar as ever.
Carl Palmer’s drumming, it’s there too but perhaps not as adventurous as certain people may expect per his previous Asia work.
I personally think this album may be on a par with the previous ‘Phoenix’ release from two years back. Maybe a little lighter ...

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 for me.

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