Asia - XXX

(CD 2012, 49:40, Frontiers Records)

The tracks:
  1- Tomorrow The World(6:47)
  2- Bury Me In Willow(6:02)
  3- No Religion(6:36)
  4- Faithful(5:38)
  5- I Know How You Feel(4:54)
  6- Face On The Bridge(6:00)
  7- Al Getto Nero(4:37)
  8- Judas(4:44)
  9- Ghost of A Chance(4:22)

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XXX is the third studio album of the former super group Asia after the reunion of all four original members, being Steve Howe (guitar), Geoff Downes (keyboards, vocals), Carl Palmer (drums) and John Wetton (lead vocals, bass guitar). The album title is a Roman numeral to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the eponymous debut album in 1982. In my opinion that debut album is still their best one. However, I have to say that this new record can also be called a classic, melodic AOR album with nine new superb songs. A couple of years ago I worked on an Asia biography together with the American music reporter Steven Rosen, so I know almost everything there's to know about this famous band.

XXX is a new and fantastic chapter in the history of Asia and this album is probably one of the highlights of melodic rock in the year 2012! The opener Tomorrow The World is one of the best Asia songs I've heard in a long time; especially John Wetton's vocals and the guitar passages remind me of songs from their debut like Wildest Dreams or Heat Of The Moment. Next song Bury Me In Willow has such a catchy tune and is so typical Asia that it's almost 'scary' to listen to! No Religion is rather up-tempo with fine keyboard and guitar solos, while Faithful is the first ballad on this album featuring great vocals and a dazzling guitar solo by Steve Howe.

I Know How You Feel and Al Getto Nero are the 'weakest' tracks on XXX, as they are rather simple and I would call the latter even a pop song. The single Face On The Bridge however, is one of the highlights. It's a super catchy song with two very melodic guitar solos. Maybe this one will even hit the charts! Judas is the heaviest track dominated by Howe's guitar riffs and hooks. The album ends with the semi-ballad Ghost Of A Chance, which is again very melodic containing an amazing slide guitar solo. Steve Howe rules!

My conclusion: Asia did it again! This album is an absolute must for lovers of melodic rock and AOR. The best songs are Tomorrow The World, Face On The Bridge and Ghost Of A Chance. With XXX Asia proves that they're still one of the best melodic rock bands ever. I would love to see the band in the flesh while playing these great new songs...

****+ Martien Koolen (edited by Peter Willemsen)

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