Title - ‘XXX’ (Frontiers Records)
Artist - Asia
Asia is a supergroup formed in 1981 with members of Yes, King Crimson, Emerson Lake and Palmer and Uriah Heep. The current members are Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer, but the membership has seen many changes over the years, with celebrated musicians popping in and out of the band.
Although they have not achieved the critical acclaim one would expect of their respectable rock, which is a sad, sad fact within the business, here on their brand new album XXX they once again bring us the rock we've loved for 30+ years now.
The album XXX (pronounced either Triple X or Thirty) is the twelfth studio album by Asia and it is the third studio album after the reunion of all four original members in 2006. The name features the Roman numeral 'XXX', in commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the release of their debut album.
The new CD begins sedately enough with some polite intro key work, before it finally blasts through into the Asia we know with 'Tomorrow The World.' Then comes the tuneful storytelling of 'Bury Me In Willow,' the the faster pacing of the near seven minute 'No Religion,' with the running-at-full-speed 'Faithful' along next.
Next up is the more pop-rock feeling of 'I Know How You Feel,' with the rockier 'Face On The Bridge' following along close behind. Then comes one of the most interesting tracks on the new album, 'Al Gatto Nero,' which turns out to be a very slick, cohesive prog-rock track from start to finish. Indeed, Wetton's voice sounds as strong as ever and his bass-playing even seems to be a little more prominent here.
In as much as Downe's keyboards are always there; nestling in the background, Palmer's drums and Howe's guitar are very muted for the most part. That said, the next track 'Judas' is another fine example of how their sound has stood the test of time. My goodness, it could easily be from one of their earlier albums; much like a long lost studio cut! XXX comes to a close with the ballad 'Ghost Of A Chance,' complete with a fine Howe guitar solo, it wraps the new album up in style.