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4.3 out of 5 stars
70
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 3 March 2017
Ok
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on 1 May 2014
Wetton and Downes are old men. It's unreasonable to expect them to have the fire of their youth - indeed I think Wetton's once-distinctive overdriven bass sound was last heard on "Ride Easy" on the original Asia album! Both have spent a lot of time piddling about in lower-grade work. Any good music needs edge. Generally Steve Howe ensures that any work he is associated with is of a minimum standard, but of course he isn't here.

Now I got this through the post together with "North" by John Lee's Barclay James Harvest (The JLBJH effort was so lame it hurt). The comparison made me realise that Gravitas is not at all bad.

First, it's got two tracks that I can't get out of my head - "Valkyrie" and "Joe di Maggio's glove". The rest is variable and hasn't grabbed me yet - I've only had the CD for a few days. Wetton's voice on both is good, and the production is crisp.

It's not very up-to-date, but then Asia always set their own style which was often at variance with current fashion. I was afraid that it might be a keyboard-driven album, but Asia seem to have avoided this trap largely. The new guitarist is excellent, fits in, and is not as "tacked-on" as Mandy Meyer so obviously was.

What I recommend is using the online snippets and listening to a few of the tracks. If it grabs you even that much, then it is for you. If not ... not.
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on 24 April 2014
Getting old gracefully...thats what I thought after a few spins of this new album. Carefully crafted, new man on guitar does a good job, but unfortunately not many sparks in here.

It starts off pretty well, with the first three songs all holding the attention. Then things get rather nebulous and altogether too "department store lift music" orientated.

Nothing wrong with the songs, they just don't make me want to sit down and listen to them rather than simply have them there in the background filling the silence while I do something else.

For me, they'd started down this path with XXX, which I felt was a bit of a damp squib after the altogether more satisfying Omega.

Overall, not bad, but some way off being a really good album.
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on 9 April 2014
I have followed Asia from their inception, and have viewed the rebirth of the original line-up with interest. What to make of this one?

First impressions were not great. Nothing jarring, no cringe moments, but the album was pleasant. That's about it. Pleasant. Not something you would look to get from a talented bunch of musicians.

What's good? Well, the harmonies are as lush as ever, and Coulson's guitar work (when you can hear it) is good. Wetton sounds in great form, and there are some lovely chord progressions which reference their early work, particularly their second album, Alpha. The album does grow on you as well, and I have probably listened to it around 15 times at the time of writing this review. It is a consistent album, whereas the previous two were slightly more in the Curate's Egg camp.

However, I do have some issues. The biggest one is that Gravitas lacks the tension of Omega; it's a bit of a plodder. Most songs could do with being speeded up by 20%. The arrangements are sometimes too lush, adding fat instead of muscle. As a reference, I returned to XXX, which was for me a mild disappointment after Omega, and it seemed rather more vibrant than Gravitas.

So - in summary - a workmanlike album, with melodic flourishes, but it's like a movie star, saddled with playing a king, who speaks with a slow deep sonorous voice in an attempt to convey gravitas. That's fine, but it can end up sounding a little flat and, well, predictable. Just like this album.
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on 1 May 2014
I think this album is top notch. "Joe Di Maggio's Glove" is one of John Wetton's sweetest vocal performances and "The Closer I Get To You" and "I Would Die For You" are also classic Asia. Not a bad song really and several very good ones with Geoff Downes' keyboards not too dominant. With Omega, their best since Astra. My only gripe is that new young guitarist Sam Coulson could have been given more prominence in the songs and in the mix. Although I love Asia ballads, I don't want too many and prefer the heavier side of their songwriting with more guitars and less keyboards. Hopefully he is just warming up for the next album!
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on 17 April 2014
Let me start by saying I really do like this album. It has some great songs. Upon first listen though I have to admit I was disappointed, especially after the likes of Phoenix, Omega and XXX. My concern is whether this can actually be labelled an ASIA album, or more of a Downes/Wetton project? Yes, Downes & Wetton wrote all the songs, but something of a band dynamic seems to be missing here. In my mind this doesn't come across as a band effort unlike the above mentioned albums Palmer seems way down in the mix and Sam Coulson seems to step up for a solo and then disappear again....
Four generous stars from a big Asia fan for a good album, but it really could have been so much more.
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on 28 July 2014
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.
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on 10 January 2015
Quality of pressing disappointing. Side A lacks detail, where are Carl's symbols? Midrange arguably too pronounced. Side B a little better, about 20% better. Koetsu/Evans/SME analogue front end, so yes it's the pressing! I prefer the digital offering, in this case. Pressing is quiet however, no discernible surface noise. The album is one of Asia's best, from beginning to end. No disappointment where it matters most.
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on 25 April 2014
I was sad when Steve Howe left, and wondered if this was going to be the end of a band I'd followed since the first album came out. But, seeing clips of Sam Coulson on YT showed how good he was, but would he fit in? - A question quickly answered. This is a fantastic album in the true Asia tradition. 4 fantastic musicians at the top of their game, and a bag of fantastic songs does not disappoint. John's voice is also better than ever. Definitely recommended to any Asia fans who have yet to get this CD, or any lovers of rock with classic pop hooks.
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on 30 March 2014
Great first track Valkyrie but the rest bland with repetitive lyrics, not much variety and a lack off many good guitar moments with new guitarist Sam Coulson in for Steve Howe who jumped ship again! given very little room to shine, one star for the first song and one star for John Wetton's vocals which sounded as good as ever.
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