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3.10 | 166 ratings

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Symphonic Team
2 stars We're still the same!

Omega is the second studio album from Asia since the reunion of the original line-up a few years ago (and the fourth one overall from this very line-up consisting of John Wetton, Geoff Downs, Carl Palmer and Steve Howe). While it is great to see that these four Rock giants have rekindled the flame and once again record together, the result is not particularly impressive in this case. This is especially so for those of us who know what these great men were capable of in bands like Yes, ELP, King Crimson, UK, etc. Even compared to previous Asia albums, both by this line-up and otherwise, Omega falls far short of expectations. Phoenix (the first album by the reunited Asia from 2008), on the other hand, did live up to expectations very well and it was up to par with the first two Asia albums from the early 80's. But Omega is a rather disappointing release, in my opinion.

Since I don't have the physical CD I do not know who wrote the material, but these songs sound very much like Wetton/Downs compositions and Omega is actually very close in sound to the albums that Wetton and Downs released under the name Icon. Indeed, one of the songs here, Finger On The Trigger, was previously released on the second Icon album subtitled Rubicon. While this Icon album was pretty good and clearly better than Omega, Finger On The Trigger was one of its least good songs. And it is no better here! On the other hand, it fits in quite well with other disreputable Asia hits such as Heat Of The Moment, Don't Cry and Voice Of America (some of their worst songs if you ask me). I think it is a bit unimaginative to feature an already released song on a supposedly new studio album, but I suppose that the Icon albums did not reach many ears.

With Wetton and Downs dominating the proceedings of Omega, Howe and Palmer seem to take the back-seat for this one; vocals and keyboards are omnipresent while guitars are rather scarce. Bass and drums are utilized just as a rhythm section and play no leading roles. You almost get the feeling that the songs were prepared by Wetton and Downs in advance and that Howe and Palmer just came in to play on them. This might or might not be the case, but it sure sounds like it! Phoenix sounded more like a group effort and was all the better for it.

While listening to this album, I tend to tire of it half way through. The songs are almost all similar in sound, tempo and length. Holy War is the first good song and is very much in the style of the better songs from the above mentioned Icon album. If you are interested in what these four great men have been up to lately, don't start with Omega. Phoenix is a better place to start if you want new Asia-material sounding just like the old, but the very best release of their's is the live DVD and album Fantasia - Live In Tokyo which features improved versions of all the songs from the self-titled debut plus songs by Yes, King Crimson, ELP and even The Buggles!

Hearing Omega makes me hope for a return of the John Payne-era! Albums like Aqua, Aria, Arena and Silent Nation are much more interesting than this mostly boring effort.

Only for fans and collectors this one

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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