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Asia - Phoenix

Published April 02 2008

=Staff's pick

Never Again*
Nothing's Forever
Sleeping Giant/No Way Back/Reprise
I Will Remember You
Shadow Of A Doubt*
Parallel Worlds/Vortex/Deya
Wish I'd Known All Along
Orchard Of Mines
Over And Over
An Extraordinary Life*

Genre Melodic/Progressive Rock
John Wetton
Tracks 12
Steve Howe
Runningtime 65 Min.
Label Frontiers Records
John Wetton
Release 11 April 2008
Carl Palmer
Country England
Geoff Downes
Similar artists Kansas, Journey, Yes, Boston

This is nothing but a BIG happening. The original members of Asia have reunited for their first album together in 25 years! Their successful debut was in fact the best selling album in the world in 1982, number 1 in the USA for 9 weeks. The two albums that followed, Alpha and Astra (without Steve Howe in the line-up), didn't live up to the debut regarding record sales but quality wise they were equally as good according to me. After the release of these three diamonds the band disbanded and has since then reunited in different constellations and together with bassist/vocalist John Payne they released five albums that in my eyes and ears should have been released under another moniker.

Phoenix marks the return of not only the original line-up but also the classic Asia sound. The melodies and the overall sound on Phoenix are like a cousin of the first two albums. Never Again is the perfect opener and the album's big hit song. Starting with a riff reminiscent of the one used on Heat Of The Moment (opener on the debut album) leading the way to an extremely accessible chorus in typical Asia style. Nothing's Forever isn't too exciting however because of quite uninspiring melodies. The beautiful ballad Heroine is much more intriguing and also the first of a few tracks where the lyrics can be traced as reflections after John Wetton's major heart surgery last year. Sleeping Giant/No Way Back/Reprise is one of two mini epics on Phoenix which has a bit more progressive elements than the rest of the material. Alibis is one of my favourite tracks with an effective up-beat verse and a smart chorus that grows on each listen. Shadow Of A Doubt is another gem that sounds like an Alpha composition in both sound and quality. An Extraordinary Life that ends the album is just as fantastic as the opener and it's a brilliant move to place the best tracks as opener and closer since they frame the album in a perfect way.

The album isn't without flaws though, the original Asia most definitely proves that they still can be counted with but there are a couple of fillers that lowers the overall judgement. Nothing's Forever, Wish I'd Known All Along, Parallel Worlds and Over And Over are all decent tracks but no way near the quality of the rest that are presented on Phoenix. My expectations on this release were very high and even if I'm a bit disappointed right now it's indeed a great record with highlights that remind me of the good old days. I just hope they swing by Sweden for some live dates because it would be amazing to finally get to see the original Asia perform. Welcome back guys!








7 chalices of 10 - Hawk

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