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Asia - Omega

posted 25 Jul 2011, 07:48 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 07:50 ]

(Frontiers Records)

Review by Woody

The Original line-up of Asia reunited in 2006 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the band. This lead to a highly successful world tour, Live CD/DVD and an all new studio album, which itself was met with mixed reactions, ‘08’s “Phoenix”. That original line-up of John Wetton (Lead Vocals / Bass), Steve Howe (Guitars), Geoff Downes (keyboards) & Carl Palmer (Drums) are still together for the follow up album “Omega”. This is also the first time since their debut album that they have worked with an outside producer, Mike Paxman (Uriah Heep, Status Quo) takes up the producer reigns for this one.

“Phoenix” divided opinion, I personally thought it was an ok album and it did have its moments, but “Omega” is a far more rounded and complete album and a definite improvement on the previous album. Asia were always touted as the first ever AOR super group, but with their prog edge and their music’s atmospheric overtones they have always retained a unique sound and a broader fan base than a straight ahead prog or AOR band would have. What we get here is a continuation of their distinctive brand of atmospheric AOR, I’m sure Asia fans will love this but the band haven’t tried to reinvent themselves or radically change their style to fit in with current trends, stylistically what you get here is what you’d usually expect from them.

This is an album which was created to have a positive feel to it, and it does have an overall upbeat feel to it. Lyrically, John Wetton say’s the lyrics he’s used are autobiographical, hmmmm I’ll leave that one to each individual listener’s opinions. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Asia lyrics at the best of times but the bands appeal to me is in the music they have crafted some very powerful and emotive songs and melodies over the years. As you’d expect from four of the most respected musicians in rock, the musicianship on display here is excellent and shows the band may be almost 30 years old, but they still have what it takes.

The band gives us those atmospheric keyboards, huge harmonies and lush encompassing walls of melodies the band are famous for creating again. I really like John Wetton’s vocals, his smooth melodic vocals are perfect for this style of music and Geoff Downes is a master keyboard god, his talent shines brightly throughout this album.

The album kicks off with the storming upbeat rocker “Finger On The Trigger”, which has a great guitar riff, a catchy chorus and those ever-present and distinctive keyboards! “Through My Veins” is very atmospheric with some very effective harmonies adding to it. A mid-tempo tune containing some really good smooth melodies and a great guitar lick from Steve Howe. “Holy War” is out and out old school Asia, atmospheric, huge harmonies and a smooth memorable chorus.

Ballad “Ever Yours” has some atmospheric keyboards and some great guitar work. It’s a song that builds and builds, altogether a very powerful song. For those about to rock with keyboards I give you “Listen, Children” which opens majestically with some killer keys hell I love all the keyboards on this tune, they really stick in your head! There is a pretty decent melodic chorus but it’s the keyboards that shine through on this number, Geoff Downes we salute you. Wetton’s vocals really shine on “End Of The World” which has some big prog keyboards!

Rocker “Light The Way” is up next with a driving guitar and keyboard sound, Catchy as hell with some top draw guitar licks. Ballad “Emily” bizarrely puts me in in mind of Madness, not really fussed on this tune myself, which is included as a European bonus track. “I’m Still The Same” is a pretty standard mid-tempo rocker, not as memorable as the rest of the songs.

Atmospheric ballad “There Was A Time” is very effective and emotive, with lush melodies that wrap themselves around you. “I Believe” has a great riff, big pompous keyboards and big soaring harmonies on the chorus. “Don’t Wanna Lose You Now” is a meandering ballad with a slight edge of melancholy to it, contains some great use of harmonies and is a really memorable close to the album.

I’m sure “Omega” will keep die hard Asia fans beyond happy! A pretty decent, solid album which harks back to their hey-day. If you like you’re AOR atmospheric or your Prog more accessible than this album is for you.

Track Listing:

Finger On The Trigger / Through My Veins / Holy War / Ever Yours / Listen Children / End Of The World / Light The Way / Emily / I’m Still the Same / There Was A Time / I Believe / Don’t Wanna Lose You Now

Album Rating:

4/5

Woody’s Essential Track:

There Was A Time

Omega is OUT NOW and available from all good retailers and

www.destinyrocks.com
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