Customer Reviews


49 Reviews
5 star:
 (18)
4 star:
 (22)
3 star:
 (9)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Fine Entry!
To be honest, I wasn't really too concerned when Steve Howe left Asia for the second time. As much as I love his playing, he doesn't even feature on two of my favourite Asia albums (1994's 'Aria' and 2004's 'Silent Nation') and Asia have had a countless number of guitar players over the years, including the likes of Elliot Randall, Aziz Ibrahim and Guthrie Govan, so...
Published 5 months ago by Stotty

versus
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as much weight as the name suggests
"Gravitas is Asia by Asia. At last."
John Wetton.

Beg to differ.
Gravitas is Asia by John Wetton and Geoff Downes.
Again.

Wetton and Downes song writing partnership has dominated recent Asia releases; all the numbers on Gravitas were penned by the pair and they also produced the album.
And in terms of song structure,...
Published 5 months ago by R. Muir


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Fine Entry!, 8 April 2014
By 
Stotty (Bolton, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gravitas (Cd+dvd) (Audio CD)
To be honest, I wasn't really too concerned when Steve Howe left Asia for the second time. As much as I love his playing, he doesn't even feature on two of my favourite Asia albums (1994's 'Aria' and 2004's 'Silent Nation') and Asia have had a countless number of guitar players over the years, including the likes of Elliot Randall, Aziz Ibrahim and Guthrie Govan, so there's never been a shortage of quality in that department. The real driving force behind Asia has always been Geoff Downes and whichever singer/bassist has been fronting the band, whether it's John Wetton or John Payne.
'Gravitas' sees Wetton and Downes coming to the fore once again and delivering another set of finely crafted, accessible melodic rock songs with the odd progressive rock flourish.
Opening track 'Valkyrie' is a real earworm of a song. It's classic Asia and once it takes a hold of you, it won't let go for days. I've been humming it constantly for nearly two weeks. The title track is a good eight-minuter, with soaring vocal harmonies and a driving rhythm section.
'The Closer I Get to You' is one of the strongest tracks on offer. A traditional, emotionally driven Asia-style ballad with plenty of majesty. It sits nicely alongside some of their strongest material and should become something of a fan favourite. 'Joe DiMaggio's Glove' is another slick ballad, beautifully sung by Wetton.
My favourite tracks on 'Gravitas', along with the aforementioned 'Valkyrie' and 'The Closer I Get to You' are the lively 'Heaven Help Me Now' and the bright and breezy finale, 'Till We Meet Again'. To be honest though, there isn't really a dull moment on this album. 'Gravitas' sounds great and has arguably the best production of any record in the Asia catalogue. Roger Dean's artwork completes what is a very satisfying package indeed.
In terms of individual performances, obviously the focus is on Steve Howe's replacement, Sam Coulson. It's obvious that on this album, his role is to supply some straight ahead rhythm guitar and weigh in with a big solo as and when required. When he comes to the fore, his playing is very much in the same vein as Pat Thrall and Al Pitrelli when they were in the band. However, there are some moments during the title track and the ballads that seem to be crying out for some of Steve Howe's guitarwork and at times, I feel Coulson is holding back slightly. On future albums, I'd like to hear him adding some acoustic guitar, expressing himself a bit more and really letting rip, because the talent is definitely there. All that being said, considering he's only a young man, he delivers a solid, mature debut with plenty of potential.
As for the other members, John Wetton, as ever, delivers a masterclass of soulful and earnest vocal performances, along with beautiful, fluid bass playing. Carl Palmer's drums are more rhythm based; less erratic than usual and more focused, allowing the songs to really flow. Geoff Downes keyboards are sumptuous, with classical chops and symphonic flourishes by the bucketload.
'Gravitas' is an album that I liken to 'Alpha' and 'Aria' in terms of it's mood, tone and emotional depth. It's a good fifty minute record that doesn't outstay it's welcome. I've knocked a star off due to Howe's presence being missed here and there and for some of the lazy fadeouts on a couple of tracks (check out Magnum's 'Escape From The Shadow Garden' if you want to hear how to end songs properly). Other than that, anyone that's enjoyed Asia's output since 2008 will have plenty to enjoy here and fans of the band in general will lap it up. It's good stuff.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its not a bad album but as others have said, 28 July 2014
By 
Andy (UK Wickwar) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gravitas (Audio CD)
Its not a bad album but as others have said, it starts very well with the first three songs, then it seems to drift off a bit in places. Just feels a bit rushed and not complete. Other Asia albums tend to have more solid songs and more than nine tracks. Having said that, there are some great songs, just wish i didnt have to skip a couple of songs.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 8 April 2014
By 
jimbocam (Staverton, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Gravitas (Audio CD)
To date, we've had three strong albums from Asia since their original line-up reformed to make 2008's Phoenix. The following outings, Omega (2010) and XXX (2012), took what John Wetton, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer had reignited and moved it forward.

So now, in 2014, we're due another Asia album and here it is. However, one founder member, guitarist Howe, has retired from the band, with 27-year-old YouTube sensation, Sam Coulson, taking his place.

Asia's third album saw the Yes-bound Howe replaced by Krokus's Mandy Meyer, so is this 'Astra Mark II'?

No. Despite the cataclysmically corny spoken section in Countdown to Zero, Astra may still be the better album.

Not that there's anything irredeemably wrong with Gravitas, it's just that thus far it has failed to grab me as much as the previous Wetton-associated Asia offerings.

The reformed Asia have always started their albums strongly and this is still the case here. Valkyrie kicks things off in style but is perhaps a little too reliant on its huge sumptuous harmony, while Gravitas is a sprawling eight-minute epic with a very proggy opening. The Closer I Get to You is the first ballad and Wetton's voice has never sounded better, although the bridge is uncomfortably close to the main hook in Drive by The Cars.

Nyctophobia feels like a bit of a novelty track, as Emily was on Omega. It sounds very New Wave, like it could have been the work of New Musik, XTC or perhaps even Downes's previous outfit, The Buggles. It's a decent enough entry though, while Russian Dolls is an atmospheric piece with a rare but excellent Wetton bass solo.

Heaven Help Me Now opens with a rather churchy harmony (reminiscent of the theme tune to Mr Bean!) and a melodious keyboard interlude, before beefing up into a decent rocker. Next is the equally upbeat I Would Die For You which would sit comfortably on both Alpha and Omega. And then we have Joe Dimaggio's Glove, the second ballad of the album and something of a masterpiece, with its many different tones and mellifluous chorus.

Til We Meet Again is a disappointingly leaden coda to the album, with a mildly unpleasant Bon Jovi / Lay Your Hands On Me feel to it. This should have been buried in the middle of the running order somewhere, although the sentiment is appropriate for an album closer, I suppose.

Lyrics have never been Asia's strong suit but there are more jarring moments than usual here.

The title track has Wetton singing the word "dignity" while the backing vocals repeat the song title "Gravitas". This combination unfortunately results in the singer seeming to call for Dignitas - the assisted dying organisation! Things can't be that bad surely? And "like Joe Dimaggio's glove" is a weird simile but seems to have first appeared in the musical South Pacific. Still odd though.

Other lyrical lowlights include the risible phrase "ten seconds from Leningrad" in Russian Dolls (can you reasonably be ten seconds from a massive city?) and I can't help feeling Wetton had just spotted 'Nyctophobia' in the dictionary when writing the album. A trifle naff.

Lastly, the words to Heaven Help Me Now seem to be a litany of cliches, tacked onto the blushing behind of the horribly clumsy opening line "Stared down the cold blue muzzle of a steel blue gun".

Musically though, the album is very much up to snuff with excellent and diverse vocals from Wetton and lots of melodic keyboard hooks from Downes. Palmer provides his signature powerhouse drumming and it's great to hear him higher in the mix under the production auspices of band-mates Wetton and Downes.

There's some fluid soloing from Coulson, which makes a refreshing change from Howe's rather more staccato improvisations. The young guitarist is a more than adequate ringer and his style is more sympathetic to the Asia sound than Mandy Meyer's was. It would be nice to hear him add a few more flourishes to his non-solo playing next time though.

All in all, however, Gravitas is a little disappointing compared to the superlatively high standards most recently set by Omega and XXX. That said, if you've enjoyed Asia's output post-2008, you'll almost certainly like this.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as much weight as the name suggests, 10 April 2014
By 
R. Muir "fabricationsHQ" (Prestwick, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gravitas (Audio CD)
"Gravitas is Asia by Asia. At last."
John Wetton.

Beg to differ.
Gravitas is Asia by John Wetton and Geoff Downes.
Again.

Wetton and Downes song writing partnership has dominated recent Asia releases; all the numbers on Gravitas were penned by the pair and they also produced the album.
And in terms of song structure, arrangements and sound Gravitas is more accurately an album by Icon (the franchise vehicle for the Wetton - Downes duo) in everything but name.

Which is all fine and dandy if the album is littered with a great set of songs but Gravitas is, for the most part, mid-tempo soft rock by numbers.

John Wetton’s voice is strong and prominent as you would expect, but many of the songs suffer from keyboard heavy arrangements or their over-use, giving new kid on the Asia block Sam Coulson little room for expression.
Coulson’s guitar licks are well placed and the solos are generally short, sharp and solid but that’s part of the problem – they sound like they are please-insert-your-solo-here moments.

And it could be any drummer keeping the predominately mid and slow-tempo beats; Carl Palmer is in no danger of having to remove his shirt during his percussive work on Gravitas.

‘Valkyrie’ is the first single to be lifted from Gravitas and it leads off the album.
Its soft rock, big vocal and choral chorus arrangement is pleasant enough but the album’s opening statement loses impetus because of the continual ‘Valkyrie’ repeat in the latter stages of the song.
A far more vibrant and fitting introduction to the album would have been the eight minute title track.

But ‘Valkyrie’ is simply setting the musical template for most of what follows.
‘The Closer I Get To You’ is a written to order Downes-Wetton ballad while the more interesting and quirky ‘Nyctophobia’ suffers from the same repetitive issues that plague ‘Valkyrie.’

There are a couple of instances where the pace is picked up.
‘Heaven Help Me’ carries that stereotypical Asia rock sound but is over produced while the punchier ‘I Would Die For You’ has some verve about it but suffers from a clichéd chorus.

The aforementioned title track does carry some musical gravitas and the acoustic led classic rock of ‘Till We Meet Again’ stands out as a highlight but outside of the dedicated fan base and fan boys who applaud every release as if it’s the Second Coming of the first album, it’s a case of Gravitas in name only.

Whether this particular Asia line-up has any longevity, Only Time Will Tell (oh come on, you knew it was coming).
And it remains to be seen if they can produce a true band album and one of high quality.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 21 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gravitas (Cd+dvd) (Audio CD)
Not as good as the old asia tracks.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Not your usual rock, 15 Sep 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gravitas (Cd+dvd) (Audio CD)
Takes some time to get Into this, like most fans of Asia would like to have found a bit more woomf to the tracks, sounds typical Icon (wetton and downes)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, solid Asia album., 27 Mar 2014
By 
D. C. Stolk (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Gravitas (Audio CD)
“Gravitas” is the fourteenth studio album by Asia, the legendary British melodic progressive rockers. Produced and written by founding band members John Wetton and Geoff Downes, the record also introduces their new guitarist, Sam Coulson, and is the follow-up to their “XXX” album from 2012.

My favorites on this album are the opening track “Valkyrie,” a real stand-out with its great harmony vocals, the power ballad “The Closer I Get To You,” which reminded me a bit of a song by Boston I can’t recall the name off, and the rockers “Heaven Help Me Now” and “I Would Die For You.” Another stand-out is the ballad “Joe DiMaggio’s Glove,” which seemed to show some influences from Supertramp.

While this is a good, solid Asia album and a welcome addition to my Asia collection, it seemed to lack a certain, well, gravitas. I’ve been listening to this album for the past couple of days to let them really sink in, as I didn’t want to write a review in the heat of the moment, but the only songs that really stood out to me after repeated listening’s were “Valkyrie” and “Joe DiMaggio’s Glove.”

So to sum it up, I still enjoyed this album. All the other songs were good… but not great. And last but not least, there’s the fact that there are only 9 tracks on the regular CD. This is a bit flimsy, so for the above mentioned reasons I have given this album four stars: I like it, but don’t love it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Going Strong, 25 Mar 2014
This review is from: Gravitas (Audio CD)
Thirty two years on and Messrs Wetton and Downes are still giving us great music that sounds fresh and stays true to the Asia sound.Gravitas doesn't disappoint, from the haunting opening track Valkyrie through to the upbeat Till we meet again there are sandwiched seven very different songs all perfectly executed with Sam Coulson fitting in nicely on guitar and giving them a slightly harder rock sound and Carl Palmer shows what a wonderful drummer he is. Long may Asia continue and giving us great songs
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not their best!, 25 Mar 2014
By 
J. Clark (Croydon UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gravitas (Cd+dvd) (Audio CD)
I have to say that I don't think this is as good as 'XXX' or 'Omega'. It's a little too safe for me. It's not that it's bad - John Wetton's vocals are great, the production is superb as usual, and Sam Coulson is a fine replacement for Steve Howe - but, I don't think the material is as strong. That said, I agree, if you like ASIA you'll probably lap this up.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gravitas in name only..., 22 Jun 2014
By 
Daniel A (London, England) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Gravitas (Audio CD)
Though this album treads many of the familiar paths in terms of melody, structure and content, that one would expect from Asia, nonetheless somehow it fails to spark in the same way as the past three albums have. It is therefore hard to escape the conclusion that the missing ingredient is Steve Howe. Now, don't get me wrong, Sam Coulson does a fine job as a guitarist and certainly delivers the Asia sound, but, the question is, is he a full partner in the creative process or there simply to do as he is told, as he comes across as a session musician? I hope it is the former and that he will come into his own on the next album, but I have my reservations.

The songs are weaker than usual even though John Wetton and Geoff Downes have, as ever, written most of the tracks, which have a total running length of a mere 48 minutes and itself suggests that they struggled to find inspiration. Most of the songs, though pleasant enough just seem to lack oomph, and have a much lighter feel than those off recent albums. 'Valkyrie' is a pretty weak opener. It has a ponderous quality to it with a with a weak middle. 'Gravitas' is better and should, in my opinion, have been the opener. 'The Closer I get to You' is OK, but is very low key, but that applies also to 'Heaven Help Me Now', 'I Would Die for You', the latter of which was actually written in 1986, and 'Joe DiMaggio's Glove'. Alas, 'Russian Dolls' just doesn't do it for me. 'Nyctophobia' is the stand-out track and 'Till We Meet Again' is a lively closer. However, all in all, I found myself disappointed with this album and it pales into insignificance when compared to 'Phoenix', and to be honest, even to 'Omega' and 'XXX'.

I hope that this is merely a minor blip and the guys come back with a stronger album soon.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Gravitas (Cd+dvd)
Gravitas (Cd+dvd) by Asia (Audio CD - 2014)
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews