Asia

Arena

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This is not your father's Asia. In its beginnings Asia was a band frequently called the first progressive rock supergroup, although that title really belonged to Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The Asia of old actually had an arena rock sort of sound that, while espousing prog elements and textures, was pretty much straightforward rock. At times the band was definitely a bit formulaic. As Asia has continued on, with members coming and going, the tone of the group has changed. The bandmembers seem to struggle a bit with direction, not going completely prog, but certainly not eschewing that direction altogether. This disc reveals one element that could definitely be seen as an improvement over the old days, though: the music has lost much of its slick and almost contrived texture. Sometimes the cuts here come off a bit like they are adrift, but they really seem more real and less contrived than a lot of the classic Asia catalog. All that said, the disc is very listenable and has some definite strong points, calling to mind the classic Asia era at times as well as other groups, including Trevor Rabin-era Yes and Dream Theater. The lineup on the disc is John Payne, Geoff Downes, Elliott Randall, Aziz Ibraham, and Michael Sturgis. Luis Jardim guests on one cut.

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