After some direct and solo albums as well as with Carl Palmer and Qango, some appearances as a guest star (Martin Darwill and Friends), and an entire series of rumors worth of a Monaco prince (a studio album of Qango, a Wetton/Downes compilation, a new work called "Welcome to heaven" or "Welcome to hell" depending on the place), the voice of progressive presents us his new work finally called in Europa "Sinister".
I should recognize that I feared what could this album show us. The solo career of Wetton has varied a lot in three CD's too much spaced in time, I will not speak of "Caught in the crossfire" since it was a hard time for progressive musicians and it was necessary to be commercial at any price, but in "Battlelines" John surprised with a handful of pieces close to AOR moving away from commercial music of quality and personality that characterized the first Asia. With "Arkangel" things didnt improve much since Wetton tried to combine a dark atmosphere with luminous melodies, with a gray in-between point as a result.
Well, we then come to "Sinister", a work that, after having been witness of the shameful show offered by Wetton in his Spanish shows, didn't make expect anything good, but rather another attempt to repeat "Arkangel". What has been my surprise when checking that behind a ghastly cover and a nice back cover (my congratulations to the photographer, he has made Wetton seem younger than me!) there hides -and I say it after having listened to it many times, and I know what I speak about- the best work of Wetton since the first album of Asia. In fact, John has abandoned the typically American AOR of "Battlelines" and the dark-aor of "Arkangel" and he has chosen what he better knows. John Wetton was 95% of the creativity of the first Asia and he has decided to continue with that wise mixture of commercial quality rock based on a progressive background. Here we do not find "Emmas" neither Hold me nows". The production, in charge of John, possesses Mike Stones characteristic wall of sound and, for the composition and instrumentation he has enjoyed the collaboration of excellent artists such as: Jim Wallance (a Canadian creator of successes a la Russ Ballard or Desmond Childrian Adams); Richard Wagner, Richard Starkey, Kevin Savigar, Steve Hackett, Martín Orford, Jadis, and, as you know Ian McDonald and Robert Fripp.
Any tracks to highlight?... sincerely I believe that all of them. From the vigorous and rhythmic "Heart of darkness" (if this had been in the first Asia album it would have been another hit), "Say it ain´t so", or "Another twist of the knife" until the more soft ballads. The compositions that abandon the Asia style are the instrumental "E-scape" in which Wetton-Fripp-McDonald return to the past with an inoffensive piece based on soundscapes and flutes, and "Real world" that closes the album, and that is an acoustic poppy piece in which Hackett collaborates with his harmonica.
In definitive, a pleasant surprise and an unexpectedly powerful return full with quality. If you liked the first trilogy of Asia, you will have a great time with "Sinister". The worst thing of the CD?... It only lasts 40 minutes.
By the way, and before finishing, I guess that some will be wondering: was not Ringo Starr going to collaborate in "Sinister"?... it is necessary to know a little bit about The Beatles, as it is written in the review.