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Asia - Silent Nation CD (album) cover

SILENT NATION

Asia

 

Prog Related

3.17 | 135 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Finally, another Asian aria!

I saw Asia live on the tour in support of this album in Copenhagen. It was a kind of mini-festival featuring Asia, Uriah Heep and Dio. I was primarily there to see Uriah Heep, while in the end I was very disappointed with Uriah Heep's performance (something wrong with the sound, I think), but I was impressed by Asia's and Dio's performances!

I don't remember exactly what songs Asia played, but I know that they played What About Love from this album as well as some classic songs from the debut including Heat Of The Moment (it was quite fun to see the metal fans sing along with this!). Overall, I think that Asia rocked much harder in this live performance than I had expected. Maybe they toughened themselves up because of the audience that night? Anyway, I liked it!

So, what about Silent Nation? Personally, I like this a lot better than the previous Aura album. Apparently, many people on this site like Aura, but I just can't get into that album. To me Aura is nothing more than a straightforward Pop album. Silent Nation is a much harder edged affair returning to the power of Aria, released ten years earlier. However, it does not sound as 80's as that album, which is a good thing of course! The return to the sound of Aria is for me a good thing since I much prefer Aria over both Aura and Arena (though, my # favourite is Aqua). What Silent Nation has in common with Aria is that these albums have more of a band feel, while others are just studio projects led by Geoff Downes and John Payne and filled up with session musicians and various guests.

The material of Silent Nation is strong and very melodic (admittedly, sometimes a bit too much so!); the electric guitar sound is great and the guitarist is very good; the keyboards are less modern, less electronic (with the exception of Darkness Day) and much more organic than on Aura. This is probably due to Geoff using a sound that is close to the old Hammond organ on several songs (though I suspect it is not a real Hammond he is playing here, but it sounds rather genuine) and also some grand piano. In addition, there are some strings and some acoustic guitar parts on some songs that further contribute to making this album more organic and genuine than other Asia albums that often had a somewhat artificial sound.

The vocals are great here, Payne has a distinctive voice. The drums sound very good too, but they are not very elaborated and are never allowed to stretch out. This is one of the main problems with Silent Nation. The production is, on the other hand, absolutely top notch but not glossy like on Aura. I would also say that Silent Nation might be the most progressive Asia album overall. There is no individual track that stands out as being more progressive, or better, than the others, like the excellent The Day Before The War from Arena, but the progressive influences are more evenly spread over the whole album this time.

And finally, I must mention the lyrics. The lyrics have been a constant problem for Asia throughout their whole career. Indeed, I would say that several Asia songs compete for worst Prog (related) lyrics of all time. On Silent Nation however, the lyrics are not horrible apart from on I Will Be There For You; 'anything you want, anything you need, I will be there for you'. Come on! This song is clearly the worst here, with basically the same lyrics as Anytime from Aria! Why repeat something that was so bad in the first place?! What About Love is also quite plain lyrically and has an overly catchy chorus, but the rest of Silent Nation is very acceptable from both the lyrical and the musical perspective.

Conclusion: Silent Nation is a stronger and more dynamic album than we had heard from Asia since Aqua. Recommended, but not quite excellent because of some minor flaws.

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |

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