Asia - Omega CD Review (Frontiers Records) ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Friday, May 28, 2010

Asia - Omega CD Review (Frontiers Records)

DOWNLOAD: Asia – “Finger on the Trigger” (hosted on AOL Radio Blog)

Asia - Omega CD Review (Frontier Records)It was probably a mistake to listen to King Crimson Live in Guildford 1972 (King Crimson Collectors’ Club) prior to listening to the newest album from Asia. After listening to John Wetton, Robert Fripp, Jamie Muir, David Cross and Bill Bruford seamlessly flow from “Book of Saturday” into a 20+ minute free-form improv jam (“All That Glitters Is Not Nail Polish”), I was somewhat disappointed with the straightforward AOR sound of Asia’s second post-reunion studio album Omega.

John Wetton is quoted on the band’s MySpace page as having said “The title 'Omega', as any fan of the band will tell you, is 'very Asia' (as is the album, by the way). It no more means 'final' than 'Alpha' means 'the first' (which it wasn't). It's a great sounding/looking word, and a bookend to 'Alpha'. In many ways, musically and conceptually, the two albums share commonality.” I couldn’t have said this better in that Alpha (1983) is probably the best point of comparison. Omega isn’t a bad disc but it shows no signs of the individual members prog-rock pasts and it is also missing the pop hooks that made the band’s debut album so memorable.

The twelve tracks on Omega (the track “Emily” is included as a bonus on the first pressing) are all mid-tempo rockers and power ballads that are driven by John Wetton’s voice, Steve Howe’s fluid guitar work and Geoff Downes’ keyboards. Carl Palmer’s contribution seems minimal and Wetton’s bass just isn’t in the mix. "Finger on the Trigger" (which is a hold-over from Wetton/Downes’ ICON project) kicks off the disc and is one of the few tracks on this disc that has the ‘classic Asia’ sound.

There are a couple of other strong tracks on the disc like “Holy War” and “Ever Yours” (which seems like an update to “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes”). What is notable is that as the band’s sound has matured, the band’s vocals harmonies and melodies have become almost Beatle-ish (check out “I’m Still The Same”). While the urgency/intensity and arena rock sound of the early releases is gone, this is a mature release that doesn’t detract from the band’s legacy and it should strike a chord with long-time Asia fans.

Asia is playing some shows in the NYC area in August:
Aug 6th - Theatre at Westbury, Westbury NY
Aug 7th - Showboat. Atlantic City NJ
Aug 8th - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield CT
Aug 10th - Bergen PAC, Englewood, NJ

Here is what the current set list looks like:

Asia - Kanagawa Kenmin Hall, Yokohama, Japan
May 15 2010

02-I Believe
03-Only Time Will Tell
04-Holy War
05-Never Again
06-Through My Veins
07-Don't Cry (John & Geoff)
08-Steve Howe Solo
09-Sketches In The Sun
10-The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
11-Open Your Eyes
12-Finger On The Trigger
13-Time Again
14-An Extraordinary Life
15-End Of The World
16-The Heats Goes On
17-Carl Palmer Solo
18-Sole Survivor
19-encore break
21-Heat Of The Moment