You would have thought that bringing in a young gun like Sam Coulson – a guitar whiz first spotted on YouTube and that has shared stages alongside legends such as Paul Gilbert, Guthrie Govan, and Tony MacAlpine would really give Asia a shot in the arm, and make this new album “Gravitas” a thing of beauty. Though “Gravitas” never quite gets there, it is far from ugly either.
According to Asia’s John Wetton, it (Gravitas) is ‘pure, unadulterated and stereotypical Asia, with raw energy, enthusiasm and free from impurities’.
For those people who have never heard of Asia, the debut album exploded onto the worldwide music scene in April of 1982. It was the best-selling album of that year around the globe. It featured John Wetton on bass and lead vocals, Steve Howe on guitar, Carl Palmer on drums, and Geoff Downes on keyboards.
Steve quit in 84, with the band finally calling it a day in early 86. The band reformed in late 89 though it was to take until 2008 before we got a reunion of the original Asia line up of Wetton, Downes, Palmer and Howe. This was a landmark return to form for the band, with their well-received Phoenix album. Since then it’s been ‘more of the same’ with regular decent offerings in the form of Omega (2010) and the very well recieved XXX (2012).
Steve Howe left the group again in 2013 and this opened up a whole new chapter, the recruitment of Sam Coulson filled me with excitement, after all they (Asia) must have seen something greater in him than just a guitar player, a great songwriter too I imagined.
So here lies the problem, except for a couple of solo parts, you would be hard pressed to find any reference of Sam on here, it is as if he has been swallowed whole by the Asia machine.
The result of this is a disappointing record, while it is beautifully crafted, exquisitely recorded and produced, there doesn’t seem to be any passion on show, there is certainly no “Heat Of The Moment” on it, it’s as if they are just going through the motions and lacking a certain fire, only “I Would Die For You” comes close.
After all that negativity from myself, I still enjoyed this album, as it still oozes quality and Asia are still head and shoulders over a lot of bands out there, I just wish this had really kicked some serious ass.
Maybe next time.
Europe: March 21st 2014
North America: March 25th 2014
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 (Live in Plovdiv with Plovdiv Symphonic Orchestra); TBA (Live in Plovdiv with Plovdiv Symphonic Orchestra).
“Gravitas” will be available as a CD and collector’s edition CD/DVD (featuring 2 audio bonus tracks and DVD with the video clip for the 1st single “Valkyrie”, behind the scenes footage and 3 Asia classics recorded live with a full symphonic orchestra in Plovdiv, Blugaria).
Asia will be touring in Europe, Japan and USA in the summer of 2014.
Geoff Downes – keyboards
Carl Palmer – drums
John Wetton – bass, vocals
Sam Coulson– guitars
Produced by John Wetton and Geoff Downes
Mixed by John Mitchell