Celebrating 30 Years: Asia’s new Album ‘XXX’

Recently the English prog-rock masters, Asia got together and recorded an album of all new material entitled XXX. The album which was released on July 3rd 2012 aligns with the super-groups 30th anniversary.  The album also the third album the band has done since the original lineup of Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer re-united in 2006. Musically the album is 9 tracks long, and when it comes to a close runs at a reasonable 50 minutes.

The first track on the recorded is called “Tomorrow the World,” and  is a very odd piece of music that starts out with a very thematic keyboard intro by Downes.  The rest of the band eventually comes in, and the track moves in a more upbeat direction with catchy verses that are accentuated with keyboard fills. Next up is the track “Bury Me in Willow” this track is very familiar sounding, and after further listening the listener can’t help but to be swept away with the tracks fluid vocals and chugging bass. The third track on the album is entitled “No Religion” which is the first real guitar driven track, and brings a very Emerson, Lake, and Palmer vibe that I’m less than thrilled about, as I think the chorus is to bubble gum pop. “Faithful” is up next, and this track is an ode to love. I enjoy this track not because of the lyrics or vocal performance but the incredibly tight sounding bass and very airy keyboards. The track also features very timely arpeggios and a solo written in Howe’s traditional style portrayed both in Yes and Asia. The fifth track on the album is the very stagnant tribute to the music of the 80’s and is entitled “I Know How You”. Next up is the track “Face on A Bridge,” this is the track that brought my mind back into the mix due to its lyrics and very intense pulsating rhythm. The song features a great guitar solo that is tasteful and technical, but not corny and over the top. “Al Gatto Nero” is the next track on the album, and is one of my favorite tracks do its tasteful use of guitars, keyboards, and call and response choruses. I also enjoyed the clever placement of slide guitar which was very David Gilmour like.  The last track on the album is entitled “Ghost of a Chance” which is my definite favorite song on the album because it seems that all the musicians find their place throughout the track, and all of their virtuoso talents are displayed. This especially true of Steve Howe’s masterful guitar work, which makes this track sing and Downes’ keyboards that make the track move.

I feel as if XXX is a great album that makes the listener feel a part of the legacy of this great band. The album has some week points, but when all the stops are pulled for “Ghost of a Chance” the listener will instantly forget about the week parts of the album.

 

-B. Harlow

Check out The Music video For “Face On The Bridge” Below:

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