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Asia - 2014 Gravitas



ARTIST: Asia
ALBUM: Gravitas
LABEL: Frontiers
SERIAL: FRCD 643
YEAR: 2014

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: John Wetton - lead vocals, bass * Carl Palmer - drums * Geoff Downes - keyboards * Sam Coulson - guitars

TRACK LISTING: 01 Valkyrie * 02 Gravitas * 03 The Closer I Get To You * 04 Nyctophobia * 05 Russian Dolls * 06 Heaven Help Me Now * 07 I Would Die For You * 08 Joe Di Maggio's Glove * 09 Till We Meet Again * 10 The Closer I Get To You (Acoustic, Bonus) * 11 Joe Di Maggio's Glove (Acoustic, Bonus)

RATING:

WEBLINKS: www.originalasia.com


Background
The last few efforts from these ageing AOR legends have been surprisingly good. I liked what I heard on the 'Resonance - Live In Basel' 2CD set back in 2012, plus the studio albums 'XXX', 'Omega' and'Phoenix' had some special moments too. When 'Gravitas' was ready for release a few weeks back, I was very discouraged with the first video, for the opening track 'Valkyrie'. It would rank as one of the most boring videos I've ever seen, and did not set a positive vibe for the new album to follow. Well, put all doubt aside, as 'Gravitas' is ok actually. Of course you'll have to be a huge Asia fan to not disagree, but with exciting new guitarist Sam Coulson onboard, plus a slant toward previous Wetton/Downes material, 'Gravitas' has its moments.


The Songs
I may not have enjoyed the video, but the song 'Valkyrie' isn't all that bad, though the chorus sounds a tad weighed down by some thick vocal harmonies. The title track 'Gravitas' is made up of two parts, and it's just shy on 8 minutes. There's some fiery lead guitar from Coulson which adds a bit of oomph to the song toward the end. 'The Closer I Get To You' has its moments, in particular the lovely chorus. The verses tend to drag though, and it has a structure like Greg Lake's 'It Hurts', from his 1981 debut album. While 'Nyctophobia' would seem to be one of the better new songs from Asia that I've heard in awhile, 'Russian Dolls' goes some way toward counter-balancing that argument. The latter is a totally dreary outing. Sort of like a Sunday drive on a cold drab winters day, going absolutely nowhere. 'Heaven Help Me Now' has a nice choral and symphonic opening that takes an age to go anywhere, but when it does, it proves to be a useful composition after all. The three part song builds a head of steam, and ends up being one of the album highlights. And just when the album appears to be winding down, Asia stun me completely with the 'Astra' era sound of 'I Would Die For You', a real harkback to the mid 80's. A real bottled memory from their radio friendly past. 'Joe DiMaggio's Glove' didn't do a lot for me, but 'Till We Meet Again' did. A nice jangly acoustic affair with a highly melodic chorus. Nice. However, I'm not sure having two acoustic versions of 'The Closer I Get To You' and 'Joe DiMaggio's Glove' added any real value to the CD.


In Summary
Overall, it's an OK listen, but not a completely convincing exercise for mine. The songs drift between prog, symphonic and AOR, so that should keep Asia's fanbase happy in the short term. However, new boy Sam Coulson must feel under-utilised on this CD, but grateful for the experience nonetheless. It's best to cherry pick a few of these songs for your mp3 player or smartphone, but probably not the whole lot.


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This article has been tagged
Tags: Asia 
 
Comments
#1 | Jez on April 16 2014 09:14:29
4th album since the comeback and as ever, things are pretty much the same musically, although line up wise we get an introduction to new guitar maestro Sam Coulson. 'Valkyrie' kicks things off in fine fashion, a good song this one and one of the albums strongest songs. The 2 part title track is quite nice too, as is 'The Closer I Get You'..so far so good. Unfortunately things take a slump from here on and apart from the 3 part 'Heaven Help Me Now', the rest of the songs on show don't really get going. I know Asia records of late have been a little one paced in general, but they have still had the quality songs to see them through to the end, here though the standard of these remaining tracks don't really stand up to much scrutiny and brings the whole thing down. It's far from being a bad record and the good songs here are just that, it's just the consistency is not there this time as with past releases.
#2 | gdazegod on April 16 2014 13:42:58
I would Die For You is a great track.
#3 | melodiapositiva on May 11 2016 19:20:05
Steve howe is sadly missed in this one,Coulson is a fine guitar player but here doesn't shine .Anyway this is the weakest album of Asia to date, boring songs except first two and 6.
 
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