(All Album Reviews by maribor)
After the monumental release of Aura in 2001, it was hard to believe that Asia could produce one more such excellent record. It is to their credit that they didn't try to follow up their previous release, instead Downes and Payne put together a steadier line-up again with no guest musicians (also the album doesn’t start or end with the letter a). Complementing Downes and Payne are Guthrie Gowan on guitar and the veteran Chris Slade on drums.
The first thing you notice when you listen to the album is that it certainly has more of an edge than some previous records. The guitar is much more prominent and Slade provides a more heavy rock sound in comparison to the many styles of Aura and Arena. You could say they in a way returned to the sound of Aria. John Payne sounds as good as ever on vocals, Guthrie Gowan's playing fits the new rocking style perfectly, Chris Slade is one of the most experienced rock drummers around and he doesn't fail to deliver. Geoff Downes' contribution appears much smaller than ever but his keyboards are subtly integrated into the fabric of the music. He's not in the forefront as much but he's mightily important nevertheless. There are still plenty of keyboards, so that fans of that aspect of their music should be pleased.
The melodies on Silent Nation are again done in typical Asia fashion – extremely melodic and well arranged. However, the songs aren't constructed as well as on Aura and Arena, nor are they as diverse interims of musical influences as the songs from those two albums. Silent Nation displays an Asia trying to sound like an AOR or straight rock band (apart from a few exceptions like “The Prophet”), while on the previous two efforts they incorporated various styles into their compositions – from Latin, funk, symphonic... Silent Nation just isn't diverse enough in that respect, although the potential in the songs is definitely there.
Arena and Aura were albums that might have pleased some prog fans, but with Silent Nation Asia return to a more AOR or hard rock sound. They still know how to create beautiful melodies, it's just that the overall effect isn't as satisfying as on the aforementioned releases. It would have been interesting to hear what the follow-up (Architects of Time) would have sounded like though. I suppose GPS is as close to that as it gets.