Geoffrey Downes is the steady and reliable member of the band. If not for him, Asia will only be remembered with nostalgia. He has kept the flame alive as the band captain and guide. Once again, for our pleasures, the band rises from its ashes. I may add in passing that Mr. Downes is a very apt keys player. For this 2008 studio revival of the group, his accomplices are all famous progressive musicians from legendary bands: Steve Howe (Yes, but also many very good solos projects or in collaboration) superb guitars, Carl Palmers (ELP) ingenious drums and percussions, and the excellent lead vocal and bass of John Wetton (among others:KC, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, UK). Even if some critics find their work too commercial (I prefer to cast my perception of this differently, on the ground of a wider audience appeal than in interpreting it with the foggy commercial notion), for my part, I enjoyed each tune. The singing of Wetton appears to me better than ever before, but it is the instrumental parts of this album that interested me the most. This is my only reservation; I would have like more spaces for the instrumental parts…
Never Again offers us a great beginning and a little time warp reminiscent of their first and eponymous album. Hence, it is more like one more time than never again. Nothing's Forever is a very interesting mix of influences (how else could it be with such a crowd?), however its musical theme is very ELP grounded to my ears, even if the song is generally sounding like straightforward pop rock. Heroine is an interesting pop rock sentimental ballad, the dominant genre on this CD. Sleeping Giant/No Way Back/Reprise is for me a great progressive song and certainly, IMO, one of the best things the band have done in the last quarter of century. Needless to say, I like it very much. Alibis is also in the realm of progressive rock. It is not only very good and catchy; it is also a superb song in the classic Asia tradition. The instrumental parts here are simply excellent. I Will Remember You returns to the sentimental rock ballad form. Shadow of a Doubt navigates in the same musical space as the previous song. Parallel Worlds/Vortex/Deya is my second best pieces on this opus. It evolves splendidly with just the right dose of complexities and harmony to be memorable. It is also sown with emotions. It is a real joy to ear. Wish I'd Known All Along is another superb song that made me genuinely think of Yes. Orchards of Mines pursues in the main genre the band (or the record company?) had chosen for this CD. Over and Over and An extraordinary Life close adequately this very good CD.
This CD is perhaps not cutting edges progressive rock, but if you like rock ballads with emotions this one is for you. Nevertheless, it is a great CD that I strongly recommend not only to fans of Asia, but also to lovers of mellow progressive rock and furthermore to all rock fans since this opus is designed to appeal to a wide rock audience.