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Asia - Gravitas CD (album) cover




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2.79 | 106 ratings

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Symphonic Team
1 stars That dragon has plummeted!

After having reunited in 2006, displacing the John Payne-fronted version of the band, the original line-up of Asia surprised me with the very strong live album and concert video Fantasia - Live In Tokyo. This live album and video was recorded before the release of the first studio album by the original line-up since the reunion and featured a very strong set list containing not only energetic and passionate performances of every track from the group's self-titled 1982 debut album, but also songs originally recorded by King Crimson, Yes, Emerson Lake & Palmer, and The Buggles. Then came Phoenix in 2008 which was a good album by Asia's standards. However, even if Phoenix did not disappoint, it failed to live up to the momentum created by Fantasia.

In 2010 another live album and video followed called Spirit Of The Night, recorded on the Phoenix tour in 2009. This too was a good release, but again it failed to excite. In the same year the band released their second studio disc since the reunion in Omega, and by this time it was getting very clear that they were very quickly running out of steam just like they had done in their early days. The rapid decline of the reformed band was confirmed by Resonance, yet another live album this time recorded on the Omega tour in 2010. The latter wasn't bad, just lifeless and predictable, and after previous releases felt rather unnecessary. After 2012's slightly better, but still weak XXX Steve Howe had the good sense of abandoning the sinking ship and left the group, and everyone thought that this was the end.

But John Wetton, Geoff Downes, and Carl Palmer had not had enough and apparently they think that the "original" Asia can go on without Howe, so they hired a new, young guitarist to fill Howe's big shoes. But the absence of Howe is not the main problem here. After all, Howe's contribution and musical presence was already close to absent on Omega. The real problem is in the utterly weak song writing. Whatever shreds of inspiration that still remained on XXX are completely lost here. The band sounds tired and uninspired and Gravitas is disappointing even in relation to the weak Omega. Wetton seems to be the driving force of the band here and his vocals and lyrics are in the forefront with the other three members playing supporting roles. Palmer's drumming is particularly weak here. The best aspect of this album is the nice cover art by the great Roger Dean, but this album really doesn't deserve such a beautiful sleeve.

I have heard every album that Asia has put out since their inception and I must say that Gravitas is the band's lowest point ever. If they can't do better, I hope this is their last. My hope now lies even more firmly with the other incarnation of the group, Asia featuring John Payne to carry the spirit of the band onward.

SouthSideoftheSky | 1/5 |


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