Artist:  Asia
   Title: Omega
   Label: Frontiers Records  

It doesn't seem 29 years since Asia was formed by who were ominously tagged as 'pomp-rockers', Steve Howe, Carl Palmer, John Wetton and Geoff Downes, does it?

This thinking-mans supergroup are probably best known for their 1982 hit, 'Heat Of The Moment', yet they have an array of hits both sides of "the pond" that most modern day bands could only dream of.

Next up should be their latest offering 'Omega', and as soon as it begins you know you're onto a winner.  'Finger On The Trigger' immediately draws you in with its intense guitar riff, Steve Howe proving there's life in the old dog yet, along with Carl Palmer's drumming at full throttle, you couldn't ask for a better good old fashioned rocker to kick things off.  

The core of Asia as a band are best described by songs such as 'Through My Veins' and 'Light The Way' as fans would testify.  The coming together of striking guitar and bass, free flowing drumming and keyboards that are all held together by the rich, airy harmonies, then you can see why the band are still well thought of.

'Holy War' has a very similar keyboard intro to Gary Numan's 'I Die: You Die', but that's where it ends, as the song breaks into its story of the battles from centuries ago where the Christian armies of England and their allies fought against the Infidels in the Holy land, before returning home as heroes.  It may be a history lesson (not quite learned by some yet), though due to the music galloping along in tandem, you can't help but be sucked in by the tale.  Clever lot, this band!

Wetton sounds so comfortable and meaningful during 'Ever Yours', sharing the spotlight with the warm, emotive keyboards, possibly putting the song in the window for use during a wedding ceremony in the none too distant future.  Listen to the words and try to disagree.  There's a different kind of emotional texture to 'Emily', a somewhat strange story of a man in love with a woman who will do anything to win her affections, only to realise she "bats for the other side"!

The punchy keyboards and staggered drumbeat has the feel of one of those 70's lost-love songs that the likes of Andrew Gold or Billy Joel would do.  Add in the cutting guitars and there you go.  'Still The Same' is another catchy track on the same wavelength as the previous one, it's happy go lucky beat and love gone astray take will appeal to most out there.

Unfortunately there is a slight downside to the album for some, and that is you could say there are some kind of religious undercurrents running through the album, no more so than on 'Listen Children' and 'End Of The World', so no matter how much you gloss over the songs with exceptional musicianship, you can't escape the fact that one or two listeners may find them too much to feel comfortable with, which is a shame.

Thankfully the band can pull everything round again with songs pulled out of the blue seemingly, and 'Don't Wanna Lost You Now' is actually modest in all that it is, not as bombastic as they can be.  It's an acoustic led track, easy, unassuming keyboards, nice multiple harmonies, and again Wetton sincere in every word he sings.  What more would anyone want?

I'm sure if it was a good enough format for The Beatles on 'We Can Work It Out', then it's a good enough format for Asia to use for one of their songs!

With 'Omega', Asia have proved that no matter what a band goes through in its past, once the original members get themselves together and step up to the plate, they can produce an album of rich, melodic songs that will not fail to impress even the "Oh, here they go again "clan out there waiting for Asia to fall flat on their face.

Well, it's going to be a long wait, you lot.

Review by: Bob Baldwin

Tracklisting:

1. Finger On The Trigger
2. Through My Veins
3. Holy War
4. Ever Yours
5. Listen Children
6. End Of The World
7. Light The Way
8. Emily
9. Still The Same
10. There Was A Time
11. I Believe
12. Don't Wanna Lose You Now

                   

 

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