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SILENT NATION

Asia

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burritobrothe
5 stars Asia's latest release "Silent Nation" is undoubtably the finest album of 2004. While not exactly a "prog" effort, it is nonetheless inventive, imaginative and truly brilliant. A must-buy for all interested in rock music, as well as prog fans who don't mind more straightforward music from time to time. This lineup (Geoff Downes, John Payne, Chris Slade and Guthrie Govan) has been in place longer than any other in Asia's history, and they are also the tightest.
Report this review (#32253)
Posted Thursday, August 19, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Since the addition of John Payne to the Asia lineup in the early 90's, the band has charted new and creative territory with impressive results. "Silent Nation" is the reward for those of us who have waited for new material since the excellent "Aura" from '01. Great from start to finish. A nice mix of classic/prog. rock sounds. Not only have the boys delivered a carefully crafted work, but an immensely listenable one as well. Get the cd/dvd special edition, well worth the money!!
Report this review (#32255)
Posted Wednesday, September 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Being a fan of mainly the older Asia lineups I find it strange to see that people are comparing this new album to the classic ones. After listening through this album I am sad to say that as a former fan of Asia, there is nothing for me here. To me the album just sounds completely uninspired, with pale tracks and it also seems like the record has been mixed in a way making nothing really stand out anywhere.

If you ask me, the only reason to buy this record, would be to complete your collection with albums that holds the "Asia" logo. While others obviously have higher thoughts of this one album, I would want to use one word to describe it: Boring.

Report this review (#32256)
Posted Monday, October 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I have always treated Asia as a project for those prog masters that wanted to do something else. It's because it was originally consisted of Carl Palmer (ELP), Steve Howe (Yes), John Wetton (K Crimson) and Geoff Downes (Yes). I could accept their debut album and assumed it as a hard rock music with some progressive touch (not that much, actually). The band then evolved with many changes in personnel with one member being constant: Geoff Downes. In its original form, it's actually similar with the GTR as a joint-effort between two guitar masters: Steve Hackett and Steve Howe. The only difference was that GTR disbanded after the two guitarists did not think would continue with the GTR project. With Asia, Geoff has carried the torch and brought the band into many albums with something I called it as pop rock music. Nothing wrong with this, it's natural as an evolution of a band.

Having been so long not in touch with Asia since their Astra album, I was triggered to enjoy their latest release "Silent nation" as some friends and some reviews mentioned that this album was good. What I found was a great regret. It's not because this album not prog at all as I had been aware that Asia was basically a pop rock band. Even by using a pop rock spectacles I don's see this is a good one to have. Almost all tracks are straight forward and boring. The composition is too loose, I would say. But, I can understand that those die- hard fans of Asia would love this album as they have enjoyed the music since the old days. That's why I would give this album only for collectors who truly love Asia. But for those who are new with the band, I think this album is not the best one to start with. Their debut album is much better than this one. If you want to evaluate using "prog" spectacles, this is NOT under that category. Keep on proggin' .!!! Yours progressively, GW.

Report this review (#32258)
Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Asia is since evermy favorite group and I was happy to see them live in Luxebmourg. Asia and myself missed the public but the performance was excellent. Silent Nation is a good album but there should be more songs as "Long way from home" that remembers more and more to the old lucky Asia style as other titles are too sad for me.

Good luck for the future from Luxembourg and you can come back and myself I will do the publicity for a super group.

Thank you very much

Fernand Ugen

Report this review (#32259)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars To be honest, this album is not my fav of the band but it still keeps the trademarks of the band: good melodies and more complex than other AOR stuff. Some tracks are weak like What about love or I will be there for you (the only two in fact) but others just rock like Blue moon monday, Long way from home, Ghost in the mirror...
Report this review (#39516)
Posted Friday, July 15, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album "Silent Nation" is undoubtably their best album of the Payne Era. Even though Aura is also a great release. In spite of not being really a "PROG" band, ASIA still can rock. It is a hard album with lots of brilliant songs like Ghost in the mirror, gone too far, silent nation, I'll be there for you and what about love?. This is the best lineup (Geoff Downes, John Payne, Chris Slade and Guthrie Govan) since the CLASSICAL one. As we can see in Asia's website: Silent Nation is Asia's long awaited new studio album, and features tracks that are being compared musically to the band's 1982 debut.

See ya... gustavo weyne

Report this review (#63059)
Posted Tuesday, January 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars This album was for me a great disappointment. All the inspiration the band had when writing "Aura" is gone here, leaving a bunch of insipid songs. Listening to those songs makes me feel that I'm listening to some demos or unreleased material like on the Archiva releases. Clearly the influence of Geoff Downes is lower here - this album has a John Payne type of sound. Now I don't wonder why Geoff Downes left Asia recently - his collaboration with John Wetton for the "Icon" album was much more successful and I would strongly recommand "Icon" over "Silent Nation".

Considering "Silent Nation", I don't see many songs that get out of the pack. "The Prophet" is a soft rock song, maybe the only one that retains the emotion of the previous albums. And maybe the title track and the rocking "What About Love"... Rating: 62/100

Report this review (#71278)
Posted Monday, March 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars As the cover shows, Silent Nation is Asia's darkest record ever. It shares a bit of the heroic mood of their previous albums but except from one or two tracks (Ghost in the Mirror, I Will Be There for You) it's got a lack of happiness. Most of the lyrics deal with the world ruined by mankind: pollution of the environment (Midnight), turning away from each other (Silent Nation) and that we've gone too far (Gone Too Far) and so on...

The things make it a good album are Payne's strong backing vocals, his more stressful usage of the bass guitar (compared to the previous albums) and Govan's guitar playing. The last one is simply awesome. Also Geoff Downes does an excellent work on the keyboards.

And okay, Chris Slade is not a Carl Palmer or a Michael Sturgis, but he does his job quite well.

1. What About Love: the opening track is somewhere between hard rock and prog, the Hammond organ plays an important role in improving this song.

2. Long Way from Home: One of my favourites, the first ballad of the album with a great acoustic middle part.

3. Midnight: Between the first and second track, continues a great way to create an interesting studio record.

4. Blue Moon Monday: The longest one. With its slow tempo and emotionality it prepares the title track. I love it.

5. Silent Nation: The first zenith. One and a half minute long slow acoustic intro, and then it begins... Amazing prog song, here are the best backing vocals on the whole disc (as I said before, the average is also good, but this is absolutely fantastic).

6. Ghost in the Mirror: A short bridge between the two best songs of the album, the most AOR-styled song of Silent Nation.

7. Gone Too Far: And the second zenith. The intro is three minutes long consisting a guitar, some strings (maybe synth strings) and vocals. Then the drums join and lead the song into a fantastic highlight with a new vocal melody...then it slows down again, the chorus comes, and after it ends, you'll hear one of the best guitar solos ever played! Guthrie shows that he is the one of the most technical guitarists alive.

8. I Will Be There for You: Another guitar solo, and a short, easy of digestion song.

9. Darkness Day: The weakest one. Uses elements of electronic music, it's very repetitive and boring. They should left off this song of the album.

10. The Prophet: A soft song, with nothing too interesting. Unfortunately the album's ending is a bit damaged by the ninth and the tenth song.

Four stars.

Report this review (#189342)
Posted Saturday, November 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Symphonic Team
3 stars Finally, another Asian aria!

I saw Asia live on the tour in support of this album in Copenhagen. It was a kind of mini-festival featuring Asia, Uriah Heep and Dio. I was primarily there to see Uriah Heep, while in the end I was very disappointed with Uriah Heep's performance (something wrong with the sound, I think), but I was impressed by Asia's and Dio's performances!

I don't remember exactly what songs Asia played, but I know that they played What About Love from this album as well as some classic songs from the debut including Heat Of The Moment (it was quite fun to see the metal fans sing along with this!). Overall, I think that Asia rocked much harder in this live performance than I had expected. Maybe they toughened themselves up because of the audience that night? Anyway, I liked it!

So, what about Silent Nation? Personally, I like this a lot better than the previous Aura album. Apparently, many people on this site like Aura, but I just can't get into that album. To me Aura is nothing more than a straightforward Pop album. Silent Nation is a much harder edged affair returning to the power of Aria, released ten years earlier. However, it does not sound as 80's as that album, which is a good thing of course! The return to the sound of Aria is for me a good thing since I much prefer Aria over both Aura and Arena (though, my # favourite is Aqua). What Silent Nation has in common with Aria is that these albums have more of a band feel, while others are just studio projects led by Geoff Downes and John Payne and filled up with session musicians and various guests.

The material of Silent Nation is strong and very melodic (admittedly, sometimes a bit too much so!); the electric guitar sound is great and the guitarist is very good; the keyboards are less modern, less electronic (with the exception of Darkness Day) and much more organic than on Aura. This is probably due to Geoff using a sound that is close to the old Hammond organ on several songs (though I suspect it is not a real Hammond he is playing here, but it sounds rather genuine) and also some grand piano. In addition, there are some strings and some acoustic guitar parts on some songs that further contribute to making this album more organic and genuine than other Asia albums that often had a somewhat artificial sound.

The vocals are great here, Payne has a distinctive voice. The drums sound very good too, but they are not very elaborated and are never allowed to stretch out. This is one of the main problems with Silent Nation. The production is, on the other hand, absolutely top notch but not glossy like on Aura. I would also say that Silent Nation might be the most progressive Asia album overall. There is no individual track that stands out as being more progressive, or better, than the others, like the excellent The Day Before The War from Arena, but the progressive influences are more evenly spread over the whole album this time.

And finally, I must mention the lyrics. The lyrics have been a constant problem for Asia throughout their whole career. Indeed, I would say that several Asia songs compete for worst Prog (related) lyrics of all time. On Silent Nation however, the lyrics are not horrible apart from on I Will Be There For You; 'anything you want, anything you need, I will be there for you'. Come on! This song is clearly the worst here, with basically the same lyrics as Anytime from Aria! Why repeat something that was so bad in the first place?! What About Love is also quite plain lyrically and has an overly catchy chorus, but the rest of Silent Nation is very acceptable from both the lyrical and the musical perspective.

Conclusion: Silent Nation is a stronger and more dynamic album than we had heard from Asia since Aqua. Recommended, but not quite excellent because of some minor flaws.

Report this review (#191501)
Posted Tuesday, December 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars First of all I want to state that the only reason why I don´t give this album a 5 star rating is the fact that there is little prog on it. If PA was a hard rock or AOR site this would be halied as a classic, no doubt. Not that I approached this CD with reverence. Not at all. in fact I had much prejudice for it. To me, Asia was Steve Howe, John Wetton, Carl Palmer and Geoff Downes. The simple thought of an album carrying Asia´s name with only Downes as a original member sounded too much a sell out for my taste. That´s why it took it so long for me to even listen to it. Now I have to eat humble pie, as they say.

I was impressed from the moment I first heard the CD. And the more I listened the more I got the feeling that it was not only excellent, but also it could be par to any of the band´s best, except maybe the first (well, that one has a little more prog in it, hasn´t it?). I also found Bill Payne´s voice very similar to Wetton´s. The guy is a fine singer. But nothing would work so well if it was not for the fine songs included on this album. This is probably Asia´s best compositions since their debut: inspired, strong, darker than usual, very convincing. Also there is a kind of ´back to the basics` feeling on it: that might explains why Downes plays a lot more Hammond organ here than he was doing up to then. The guitar parts are also very well done and very 70´s sounding.

Production is also top notch. The arrangements are very well done, of course. There is not a single filler in the whole album, and the traklist is very balanced. There are even some novelties like the gregorian chants used on Darkness Day. It´s hard to point a highlight since there are too many good songs on it. Every time I hear it it I don´t skip one track.

Silent Nation stands as darker and edgier album than one would expect from a band like Asia. But it is also very melodic and tasteful. If you like good pop rock with prog influences, or is just an AOR fan, you should not miss this one. I heard this CD is the best from the Bill Payne era and I believe it, even thouhg I haven´t heard the others. And it is one of Asia´s best, with or without the classic line up we all love. As I said before, I can not give it the 5 star rating I was thinking of here on PA. For this site a 3,5 star is quite fitting though. A (very) nice surprise.

Report this review (#289725)
Posted Friday, July 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
3 stars Coming off what could be considered Asia's best album, this is a huge disapointment. The music itself sounds, as with most Asia records from any era, sounds the same as it did before, only with John Payne, which is to say, not that bad actually. The jazz tinges that were found on some of the previous 90s records have been toned down quite a bit, and it really dosent help the music at all.

1.What About Love? - Your standard 4/4 Asia track, nothing really interesting happens. The music is so commerical it seems, even the lyrics are made for the business, just about what Asia was talking about in their early days, but in a much more dated sense and is not very well executed. Good instrumentation, but the sloppy vocals and lyrics can't help the grade for this track. (6/10)

2.Long Way From Home - Though not as bad as the first track, it dosen't really interest me. The guitar playing is excellent, and the keyboard flourishes are always new and fresh. The vocals will always bring the songs down on the Payne Asia records, as he starts to sound very lazy, as he does really on this whole album. (7/10)

3.Midnight - Slightly heavier than the other tracks and with better lyrics, but it lacks force to make the heavy sound convincing. Great instrumentation, as the drumming and fast paced bass playing is always on task and busy. (7.5/10)

4.Blue Moon Monday - Asia can definatly release better proggy tracks than this one, as shown on Arena and Aura, but this one gets the job done. The playing is dream like and spacy, with excellent synth playing that is definatly trippy, in the sense of space that is. The vocals performaned by Payne are actually the best on this song, as he gives a little more soul and more emotion on this track than he did on previous ones. Guitar playing is smooth, but not really blues, as the title may infer, actually far from that. Track is slow, which amps up the dream quality. The top of the tracks, but not really a standout compared to other songs from the band. (8.5/10)

5.Silent Nation - As a title track, I thought it would be slightly better. It still has a dream quality, but almost sounds like a copy of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" from Pink Floyd in the intro, but it dosent come off as well as Gilmour's. After a fairly good intro, the track turns into your standard pop tune with vocal harmonies to perfection (well, not really) and a steady beat. Nothing very interesting, actually. (6.5/10)

6.Ghost in the Mirror - The track is actually much happier than some of the other songs on the album, with shimmering acoustic guitar playing and a very heavy and steady drum beat that everyone has to tap their toe to. The track almost borders on pop country, but still has a rocker type of feel; almost southern rock. The track is outside of their zone, which I can appreciate, but it dosent really pull off as well as anyone would think. (7/10)

7.Gone Too Far - The track may not be the best of the bunch, but it can hold its own with its intense and excellent guitar riff in the intro. The vocal melodies will always annoy me, as Paynes voice always annoys me in this track, even the whole album. The slow playing keybaords by Geoff Downes are truely excellent. This track is much better than some of the tracks. (7.5/10)

8.I Will Be There For You - After a fairly good track, we get this. A huge mess that goes no where and is a totally AOR s**t song. The song itself sounds very disjointed, as the drumming struggles to keep up with the awkward changes that John Payne is doing with his vocals and bass, as the guitar keeps plugging in useless riffs that are not really needed. This is the worst track on the album. (4.5/10)

9.Darkness Day - Slow vocal intro into a steady rocking beat with excellent keyboards...good track? Yes, actually. This is one of the longer pop songs that I can appreciated, due to its good playing and hooks that make the song so likeable. The keyboard riff and guitar played with the great drums and bass guitar are great. The lyrics don't mean much, and the vocals don't make then any better, but the track is a keeper. (8/10)

10.The Prophet - Ending in almost the same way as Aqua, with a serene type of water flowing and whale noises, with some occasionally keyboard sounds, then enters the piano which leads into a good, but great closer. The reason is, it could have been something more, but everything just sounds like your normal Asia ballad. Sour note at the end, unfortunatly. (5.5/10)

This album is not bad at all, just too average to be considered good. The tracks don't coexist very well, and some of the flow in the songs themseleves is very disjointed. I have to give it a low 3 stars because some of the tracks were good, but not great. Nothing really pops out at me from this average album.

Report this review (#309317)
Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars

SILENT NATION is the last official ASIA album featuring John Payne as lead vocalist and primary songwriter... and it hearkens back to the band's 1994 ARIA album in many ways, although somehow not quite as vibrant.

The songs are all quite straight-forward. Some are basic upbeat Rock, while others are slower and more moody... Unfortunately, however, there are only a couple standout tracks here... and the almost-hypnotic atmosphere established on their 2001 album AURA is completely missing this time around.

Being a fan of all incarnations of ASIA myself, the biggest gripe I have with this particular album is its lack of "embracing" the ASIA heritage... I understand that times change and bands do different things... but an ASIA album should never leave the listener disappointed by lack of instrumental dynamic... Here, it seems like the guitar parts are completely understated, and the drumming is lackluster at best... Why ??? Guthrie Govan was the guitarist for Pete's sake !!!

Oh well. Geoff Downes was apparently losing his inspiration for the Payne partnership by this point anyway... so I guess we can simply chalk this album up as just a lost opportunity all around.

Lastly, the existing track sequence doesn't necessarily help the material either... so here is my suggested sequence for those just being introduced to the album...

Midnight... Long Way From Home... Ghost In The Mirror... What About Love... The Prophet

I Will Be There For You... Darkness Day... Gone Too Far... Silent Nation... Blue Moon Monday... Rise

PS: Just a warning for fans of Wetton-era ASIA who NEVER heard any Payne-era ASIA... You probably won't appreciate this album at first (if at all)... Try to preview the songs "Long Way From Home" and "Ghost in the Mirror" somewhere online beforehand.

1 star on the Prog-o-meter

2 stars on the Personal-Taste-meter

2 stars overall.

Report this review (#1547903)
Posted Monday, April 4, 2016 | Review Permalink
patrickq
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars On the cover of Asia's Silent Nation is a striking image of two men. In many ways they're ordinary and anonymous. Each is a white man dressed in a suit and tie, walking down the middle of the street in a sepia photo in what looks like late-depression-era New York City. One of the men is wearing sunglasses, further emphasizing his anonymity. What's immediately eye-catching is the fact that neither man has a mouth.

This music on Silent Nation is similarly anonymous and ordinary, and to carry the metaphor one step further, it doesn't have much to say - - or, to be fair, it doesn't have much to say beyond the ordinary.

The best lyrics on the album are those which seem to have been given the least thought. Unfortunately, the songwriters (singer John Payne, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and on two songs, future bassist-singer Billy Sherwood) attempt the occasional clever turn of phrase. For instance, the title song seems to vaguely address government surveillance ("the eagle is listening today") by conflating it with other inevitabilities of big government (e.g., "no longer have a name / a number will do"). Confusingly, singer John Payne argues that "it's not up to me to change what has been done," and then says "we must change what has been done" before reverting to his claim that "it's not up to me to change what has been done." My issue is not that the lyrics don't make sense; I'm all for alligator lizards in the air. The problem here is that the lyricists seem to have unwittingly set the bar too high for themselves.

Some have referred to Silent Nation as a concept album, but I don't see it. There's a concept underlying the title track, and the album artwork fits the concept. And the concept is so broad that you might find hints of it in the lyrics of one or more other songs. But that's as far as it goes.

There are a few exceptions to the ordinariness of Silent Nation; "Blue Moon Monday" has some odd synthesizer moments and a nice false fade-out. But "Long Way from Home" sounds like 2000s adult contemporary (not that genre's golden age, by the way). The verses of the similar "Midnight" sound like Mike and the Mechanics. And so on.

Silent Nation is a far cry from Asia's 1982 debut album, recorded by bassist-vocalist John Wetton, drummer Carl Palmer, guitarist Steve Howe, and keyboardist Geoff Downes. By 2004, the band had consisted for more than a decade of Downes and bassist-vocalist John Payne, with a revolving cast of drummers and lead guitarists. I was underwhelmed by the first Payne-Downes album, Aqua (1992), but decided to give Silent Nation a chance, partly because Sherwood and drummer Jay Schellen made some contributions. Unfortunately, Silent Nation pales in comparison even to the lackluster Aqua.

Two stars for an uninspired album that I'd recommend only to Asia collectors, or perhaps Billy Sherwood completists.

Report this review (#2217266)
Posted Saturday, June 1, 2019 | Review Permalink

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