“This is not your father's Asia” (Hill). Their original lineup consisting of guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Carl Palmer, vocalist John Wetton, and keyboardist Geoff Downes only lasted only two albums and by 1994’s Aria, only Downes remained. While numerous players would come and go throughout Asia’s career, the 1992-2004 phase was anchored by Downes and vocalist John Payne. Arena saw the departure of guitarist Al Pitrelli; stepping in were guitarists Elliott Randall, who’d worked with Steely Dan, and Aziz Ibrahim, who’d worked with Simply Red.
“In its beginnings Asia was a band frequently called the first progressive rock supergroup, although that title really belonged to Emerson, Lake & Palmer. The Asia of old actually had an arena rock sort of sound that, while espousing prog elements and textures, was pretty much straightforward rock. At times the band was definitely a bit formulaic. As Asia has continued on, with members coming and going, the tone of the group has changed. The bandmembers seem to struggle a bit with direction, not going completely prog, but certainly not eschewing that direction altogether” (Hill).
“This disc reveals one element that could definitely be seen as an improvement over the old days, though: the music has lost much of its slick and almost contrived texture. Sometimes the cuts here come off a bit…adrift, but they…seem…less contrived than a lot of the classic Asia catalog. All that said, the disc is very listenable and has some definite strong points, calling to mind the classic Asia era at times as well as other groups, including Trevor Rabin-era Yes and Dream Theater” (Hill).