One can only marvel at, though unfortunately not laud, the ability of the original members of Asia to sound exactly the same on “Phoenix” as they did in their short-lived prime some 25 years ago. From the opening reverb-laden sliding power chords of “Never Again” that trigger the sense-memory of Asia’s 1982 debut single “Heat of the Moment,” nearly everything about “Phoenix” seems like déjà vu all over again: Steve Howe’s signature guitar tones; the martial-sounding snare of Carl Palmer; the image of banks of Geoff Downes’ keyboards despite the years of advances in synthesizer sampling; and the layers of backing vocals behind the dulcet lead of John Wetton.
It’s all there, as if cryogenically frozen in the early ’80s to be thawed and served now, but so too are the quasi-symphonic and bombastic sonic qualities that punk tried so hard to obliterate only five years earlier. What’s sorely missing this time out is the pop/rock catchiness of the aforementioned “Heat” and “Only Time Will Tell” which carried the band to unexpected success back in the day. An excess of syrupy Muzak-like ballads such as ”Heroine” and “I Will Remember You” and little actual rock only serve to remind that you not only can’t but really shouldn’t go home again.