When prog-rock superstars John Wetton, Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, and Carl Palmer formed Asia back in 1982, their self-titled debut was a blockbuster, followed quickly the next year by Alpha. That was it for the original lineup, although Downes kept the moniker alive through many incarnations over the years. It wasn’t until 2006 that the original foursome opted to regroup for a reunion tour and the 2008 album Phoenix.
Two years later, yet another album emerges from the original lineup, making their reunion period now longer than their original ride together! The album “is a conscious effort to shake up Asia’s style a bit while remaining true to the band’s DNA of soaring pop songs dazzlingly performed by virtuosos. Wetton’s resonant voice (infinitely layered in chorus harmonies – an Asia trademark) and tastefully effective bass guitar, Howe’s spidery, fluid guitar lines, Downes’ richly versatile keyboard parts, and Palmer’s booming rhythmic bedrock [drums] are still in place, but producer Mike Paxman has stripped the sound down a smidgen in spots.” BA
In regards to the suggestion that the album title of Omega means that this is Asia’s swan song, Wetton said, “The title…as any fan of the band will tell you, is 'very Asia' (as is the album, by the way). It no more means ‘final’ than Alpha means ‘the first’ (which it wasn’t). It’s a great sounding/looking word, and a bookend to Alpha. In many ways, musically and conceptually, the two albums share commonality.” WK
“Finger on the Trigger (originally recorded by Wetton and Downes for their Icon project in 2006) and Holy War are spirited hard rock volleys. Through My Veins is slyly catchy. Listen, Children is a cheery feel-good song sparked by uplifting lyrics and Downes and Howe’s smooth tradeoffs at the end.” BA
“Light the Way and I Believe both sound huge thanks to the ‘80s production feel wholly appropriate for Asia; in fact, ‘I Believe’ would have fit nicely on either Asia or Alpha.” BA
“The brooding There Was a Time is a highlight, and it’s enhanced by a complex arrangement. Emily, a song about unrequited love for a lesbian, is the unremarkable bonus track included on the digipack first pressing of Omega.” BA
“Phoenix has better songs overall than Omega – probably due to the initial excitement and creative surge spawned by the reunion – but Omega satisfies, and longtime fans will enjoy it. Omega is undeniably – and reliably – Asia being Asia.” BA