ASIA – Arena [Reissue]

ASIA - Arena [Reissue]


Inside Out Music
Release date: August 1, 2005

User Review
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Asia’s last album of the 90s surfaced in 1996, and it, of course, started with another A-word, as the album was called Arena.

After 1994’s Aria, Al Pitrelli left to join Savatage, and Arena features no less than three guitarists: Aziz Ibrahim, Hotei Tomayasu, and guitar legend Elliott Randall, known from Steely Dan, amongst others.

The album follows the trail of quality releases from the genius of Geoff Downes and John Payne in the 90s. After a jazzy intro, “Into The Arena” kicks off in familiar style, with big choruses and catchy lines.

One of the finest choruses in Asia’s history is found on the next track, “Heaven.” With great backup vocals, this track is an AOR masterpiece; timeless and classic.

“Two Sides Of The Moon” is another great track, not far away from Saga’s sound. However, the Reggae outro on this track is a whole different story.

Further on, “Day Before The War” is Arena‘s definitive masterpiece of the more Progressive kind. It’s a superb track penned by Downes and Payne with great lyrics and arrangements.

Throughout the years, the Asia name has been linked to great individuals, and “Never” offers some great guitar work, while “Falling” shows drummer Michael Sturgis’ unique feel.

Arena‘s first seven tracks qualify as one of their greatest releases ever, but the album doesn’t go all the way, as the last tracks are more of the average kind. Still, Arena closes Asia’s 90s period, a difficult decade for many mature rockers that Asia carried out pretty well.


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