November 1999

Asylum Suite - Asylum Suite
Southern Tracks Records STCD-0113
Released: 1999

by Chuck Moe

Musical Performance **1/2
Recording Quality **1/2
Overall Enjoyment **1/2

[Reviewed on CD]Asylum Suite is a hard-rock quartet that hails from Tennessee, and the self-titled Asylum Suite is the band’s second album, featuring your basic hard-rock songs and power ballads centering on vocals and guitar. A press release about the album quotes Cheap Trick’s Tom Peterson as saying, "I haven’t heard harmonies like these since Queen!" I wouldn’t go quite that far. Granted, Asylum Suite does display some good harmonies. But Queen-like? I don’t think so. A good number of the songs are basic, formula-driven hard rock that seems to be written with the purpose of having a radio single, and not a very good one at that. This is unfortunate because many of these tunes have potential, but seem produced down for the masses.

On the positive side, tracks such as "The Only One" break the mold with some good arrangement and originality. "The Only One" is a nice ballad with skillful guitar work and a catchy hook. "Hold On" is another power ballad that includes some solid piano and vocals. It seems that Asylum Suite’s creativity expands on their ballads, and the band feels more at ease. "Smile" is the heaviest song, with hooks and good bass lines. It has a lot of groove and strong rhythm that lets you know that the band can jam hard. If the rest of the CD were more like this, I think we would have a winner, Pat.

The sound you ask? Unfortunately, it’s a lot like the music: average. Other than the bass sounding weak and undefined for the most part, there is nothing seriously wrong. However, nothing stands out as sounding especially good either. The recording has very little depth, the soundstage is slightly unbalanced at times, and overall the recording sounds a little harsh. In addition, the acoustic guitar on most tracks sounds very artificial. This is unfortunate because a good number of the tracks use acoustic guitars. Not only do most of the songs sound like they were written for radio, they sound like they were mixed for radio exclusively. There’s just too much compression here.

It’s obvious that Asylum Suite has talent and potential, but most of time they sound as if they are going through the motions. I hope their next release will offer more originality and music from the heart.