Artist: Asia 
   Title: Gravitas
   Label: Frontiers Records

'Gravitas' is one of the Roman virtues along with pietas, dignitas and virtus and translated means weight, seriousness and dignity, also importance and connotes to certain substance or depth of personality, and aptly is the title of the new Asia album.  This new album marks a new chapter in the Asia story, with Steve Howe's departure to concentrate on Yes and other projects, so entering into the fold comes new guitarist Sam Coulsona, a young talent from Bromsgrove, UK.

With over 30 years in the business, this is the band's fourteenth studio album and once again the stalwart members Wetton, Downes and Palmer, together with Coulsona, have put together worthy of the Asia name, as the quartet mix melody, pomp and circumstance into a rich Progressive bundle.

The album opens up with 'Valkyrie', a mix of stunning keys and orchestrations that may not only grab your attention from the off, but like the rest of the album, it is a definite grower.  The eight minute plus title track 'Gravitas' brings in a more heavy orchestral feel, which leads into the melody rich rock of ‘The Closer I Get To You’ and ‘Nyctophobia’.   Whereas 'Heaven Help Me Now’ mixes a more classical feel to proceedings and is actually one of my favourite tracks off the album.

The next track ‘Would I Die To You’ is a more up-tempo affair airing more towards the Melodic Rock side of the band, before bringing things down a touch with the haunting ballad ‘Joe Di Maggio’s Glove’, before closing with the folkish tones of 'Till We Meet Again’.

This is a highly polished piece of Prog Rock from the masters.  A lot will depend on how fans compare this their critically acclaimed 2012 opus ‘XXX’, but given time I can see fans coming round to this one.  Prog is not everyone’s cup of tea and I can see this release perhaps getting mixed reviews from some of the non-Prog media. 

Review by: Barry McMinn

Tracklisting:

1. Valkyrie 
2. Gravitas
3. The Closer I Get To You
4. Nyctophobia
5. Russian Dolls
6. Heaven Help Me Now
7. I Would Die For You
8. Jo Di Maggio's Glove
9. Till We Meet Again 

 

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