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PHOENIX

Asia

 

Prog Related

3.17 | 136 ratings

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topographic2112
3 stars Well, well, well. The Original Asia's first album of material of new material since 1983's Alpha. While it's somewhat of a good album, it's not a great album. It seems to be a little too AC-radio oriented, even more so than Aura. There's a lot of great material on here, don't get me wrong, but I think the album could've been done just a little better production-wise (case in point, Carl Palmer's drums) and a little more emphasis on rock a-la Asia's self titled album.

While I was happy to see that the original 4 members of Asia got back together in early 2006 and had put aside their differences, I couldn't help but be disappointed that John Payne, Guthrie Govan, and Jay Schellen were pretty much screwed over in favor of the original line-up reforming. It's like Geoff Downes left Asia... to join Asia. The then-current line-up of Asia was in the middle of recording an album that was to be called ARCHITECT OF TIME and it was going to be released in the late summer/early fall of 2006. It was on Asia's former website, www.asiaworld.org, that it was announced that Payne and Downes had dissolved their partnership and that the original line-up was to reform, not to mention that the website itself was to be dissolved as well.

After the CD/DVD release of "Fantasia - Live In Tokyo," the 3rd OFFICIAL live album and the first proper live release by the original line-up, they seemed to have gelled somewhat well and were playing as if they "found themselves in '82" all over again. My main gripe about that release was, as I mentioned above, Carl Palmer's drums.

Hearing that there was going to be a new studio album recorded by Asia, called PHOENIX, I had mixed feelings because I knew John Payne were going to be non-existent (and pretty much are seeing as the other guys have basically written that era of Asia off, even Downes) and also I figured that they would try too hard to recapture their glory days from the first album and ALPHA.

Listening to the album, it took me a few listens to really get into it, but most of what I heard was very good material, such as "Never Again," "Nothing's Forever," the two more proggy tracks "Sleeping Giant/No Way Back/Reprise" and "Parallel Worlds/Vortex/Deya", "Shadow Of A Doubt," "Wish I'd Known All Along," and "An Extraordinary Life." The other material is not that great, even I've tried to get into it, I just can't. The ballads "Heroine" and "I Will Remember You" seem as if they're trying to re-record "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" or "Voice Of America." Also the songs "Alibis," which is a leftover song from the ALPHA days, and "Shadow Of A Doubt" both sound like sons of "Don't Cry." It's not a bad thing, but I figured with the original line-up back together again, you would think they would have tried to push the sound forward.

The overall feel of the album has a great atmosphere and even though the band all produced the album, it would have sounded better if the drums were a little more in-your- face, like the sound on the first album or even SILENT NATION. On certain moments of the album, they seemed to be a little buried in the overall mix of the album.

Surprisingly, after the album's release, it peaked at #73 on the Billboard 200, which is the first time since an Asia album charted within the top 100 since 1985's ASTRA. (Sadly, none of John Payne's Asia albums ever charted in America.) Not a bad feat at all.

As for progressiveness, it has a little bit more than ALPHA or ASTRA put together, but as an album, it's very good, but could've been better.

topographic2112 | 3/5 |

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