Dukes Of The Orient - Dukes of the Orient

Dukes Of The Orient cover
Dukes Of The Orient
Dukes of the Orient
Frontiers Music Srl
2018
8.5
Average: 9.5 (4 votes)
It’s very encouraging to see two of the top musicians of our time working together to release an album with new music. Then again, this album has been 10 years in the making (!), so it was about time, more or less, to hear what John Payne (Asia, GPS) on vocals, guitars & bass and Erik Norlander (Last In Line, Lana Lane) on keys have recorded all these past years. I do think it’s hard to go wrong with those two gents behind the desk, and my longing was proven right, to speak the truth.
 
When I first came upon the video for the first single “Strange Days”, I was so excited that I was counting the days to get the whole album in my hands. By the way, “Strange Days” is an amazing melodic pro/AOR track that has meaningful lyrics and also some great performances by John, Erik (damn that key-solo dude, you nailed it again!), and Guthrie Govan on the lead guitar (what a solo!). Out of the 9 tracks (with the Japanese bonus) only “Season Will Change” is an “old track”, which has been released in 2012, as a single, by Asia feat. John Payne; it’s a wonderful song, either way you see it. Anyhow, I won’t go on a track by track analysis, cuz albums like this one do not need such a thing… each track speaks for itself and has its very own exceptional allure. I’d only make a reference to the last 1 and a half minute part on “Amor Vincit Omnia”, which once again proves why Erik is among the best… he can send chills down your spine so easily. I miss his solo works, but as he said he’s working on a new solo release, so I’m really looking forward to it.
 
Another part that makes this album a bit different from the majority of the ones that you’re gonna listen to this year and not only, is the production. The sound is very organic, warm and has a depth (as Erik also notices), cuz it was simply mixed on a traditional analog console. I know that it’s not something that many bands are doing these days, but both John and Erik do know very well that these small (to some) alterations give you the best results. John produced and mixed the album, while the recordings were done by both Erik and John. The final mastering was done by Joe Bozzi (Asia, U2, Fleetwood Mac).
 
Moreover, apart from John and Erik, there’s also a bunch of talented musicians that accompany them on the album such as: Jeff Kollman (Glenn Hughes, Asia, Mark Boals), Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats, Asia, GPS), Moni Scaria (Asia, Joey Vera) and Bruce Bouillet (Racer X, Paul Gilbert) on guitar, Molly Rogers on strings and Jay Schellen (Unruly Child, GPS, Asia) on drums.
 
Erik told me that they are planning to keep the Dukes going, tour and even record another album. Hence, let’s all hope that this will happen indeed, cuz we do need bands like Dukes Of The Orient to make our music a bit qualitative and more peculiar, especially in this time-period, when everything sounds so damn derivative…

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