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Asia Begins New Era With Epic ‘Valkyrie’

Asia has begun its newest post-Steve Howe era with a song that focuses more on the evolving songwriting partnership of John Wetton and Geoff Downes than on the presence of their new 20-something guitarist.

‘Valkyrie,’ the lead single from Asia’s forthcoming ‘Gravitas‘ album on Frontiers, discards the more condensed pop stylings of their breakout hit ‘Heat of the Moment’ for a long-form, cello-driven rumination on the search for love that’s framed by images of war and surrender. The young Sam Coulson, who took over after Howe quit in early 2013 to focus on his work with Yes, isn’t featured until some three and a half minutes in — though there are hints as to what’s in store: Coulson’s brief solo turn is a crunchy, metallic outburst.

‘Gravitas,’ due March 25, is Asia’s first album without Howe since 2004’s ‘Silent Nation,’ which was produced by a 2000-2006 lineup that included Guthrie Govan. Over the years, Asia has also been home to guitarists Mandy Meyer (1984-1986), Pat Thrall (1990-1991), Al Pitrelli (1991-1994), and Aziz Ibrahim (1994-1998), among others.

Howe co-founded Asia with Wetton, Downes and Carl Palmer (of Emerson Lake and Palmer fame) in 1981, and stayed during his first tenure through 1984. Howe was part of the 1991-93 era, as well, and had been with Asia for this go-round since 2006.

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