RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Asia – Gravitas
Frontiers Records

http://www.frontiers.it/album/5191/

Rating: B

Asia is back with another fine studio effort that is good, but not great.  It will unfairly be compared to their classic debut album from 1982 as well.  Such is the life of the band Asia. 

Gravitas is a subtle album.  It is personal.  It is pretty much a John Wetton/Geoff Downes album.  Like most Asia albums of recent years, it is well produced, sounds great and has a few great songs and several okay songs. 

The best songs on the album are “Valkyrie,” “I Would Die for You” and “Russian Dolls.”  One song that I am sure is sentimental to the composer, but comes off kinda corny, is “Joe Di Maggio’s Glove.” 

See, that is, once again, the life of Asia.  They teeter on greatness but never arrive there…well, not since that debut.  On that album, every song is a home run.  Here we get a double, a triple, two home runs and a couple of pop-ups.  

See, even I had to go and compare the band to their 1982 release.  Why is that?  Why can’t we just let it go?  I think it is because we so want Asia to recapture the greatness that they have never been able to do. 

Asia has developed a signature sound since reuniting a few years back.  It is very recognizable, yet it is not as powerful as it could be.  And this is just one person’s take on it, so take that for what it is. 

Sometimes when reviewing the bands efforts, I feel a tad guilty, as it sounds as if I am being very critical.  The truth is all members of the band perform very well on this recording.  There are no flaws, and the musical execution is spot-on throughout.  Carl Palmer is a great drummer.  Downes and Wetton are each amazing on their instrument, and Wetton has such a unique vocal delivery.  Even the new guy, the youngster Sam Coulson, plays well throughout the album.  The guitarist came recommended from axe-master Paul Gilbert, and he’s filling the Birkenstocks of Steve Howe, so he has to be good. (And if Paul recommends him, he has to be real good…) 

The bottom line here is that if one is an Asia fan then they will snap this sucker up.  The casual fan will likely skip this one and stay with the debut from 1982.  That may be a mistake as this, like many of their last few releases, is a solid rock album. 

Such is the life of the band Asia.

Tracklisting:

Valkyrie; Gravitas; The Closer I Get To You; Nyctophobia; Russian Dolls; Heaven Help Me Now; I Would Die For You: Joe Di Maggio’s Glove; Till We Meet Again. The Closer I Get To You (Acoustic)*; Joe Di Maggio’s Glove (Acoustic)*

*Available only on the Deluxe Edition

DVD: Valkyrie (videoclip), “Making of the album”, “Heat of the Moment” (Live in Plovdiv with Plovdiv Symphonic Orchestra); TBA (ive in Plovdiv with Plovdiv Symphonic Orchestra); TBA (ive in Plovdiv with Plovdiv Symphonic Orchestra).

By Jeb Wright

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