Wednesday, 5 November 2014

TEN - Albion (2014)

Genre - Melodic Hard Rock
Track listing:
01 - Alone In The Dark Tonight
02 - Battlefield
03 - It's Alive
04 - Albion Born
05 - Sometimes Love Takes The Long Way Ho
06 - A Smuggler's Tale
07 - Die For Me
08 - It Ends This Day
09 - Gioco D'Amore
10 - Wild Horses
One of the most elaborated, intriguing and complete Melodic Hard Rock outfits coming out of Britain is without a doubt TEN, the '90s founded remarkably talented band centred around lead singer and ring master Gary Hughes.
Numerous line-up changes and differing musical styles during TEN's career resulted in mixed reviews and as we fast forward to 2014, there is a buzz in the air and whispered suggestion that "Albion", their new album to be released on October 24 returns to the classic TEN style of old and will once again please fan and critic equally.
The good news is that this is indeed the case. From opening track ‘Alone In The Dark Tonight’ through to closer ‘Wild Horses’ the whole album feels instantly at home to any TEN fan.
Gary Hughes' production and the mixing and mastering by Dennis Ward (Unisonic, Sunstorm, Place Vendome, Pink Cream 69 and more) have enabled all 7 band members to shine individually without stepping on each other and highlighting the appropriate instrumentation / musician at exactly the right time.
In addition it would be wrong to pass up the opportunity to comment on the album cover as well. Ten have always made a point of producing some amazing artwork for their albums and this is no exception. It’s a cover that warrants a vinyl release for sure but more on that later.
‘Alone In The Dark Tonight’ sees a solid rhythm built under the song from Steve Mckenna and Max Yates and some wonderful harmonies from Gary and the rest of the band on the chorus. The track immediately warrants the whole album to be listened to on a good set of headphones, with your life put to one side so that you can soak up the intricacies of what has been put together.
Gary Hughes is a poet rather than ‘just’ a songwriter. The lyrics and the style in which Hughes delivers them on the album helps paint a landscape that draws the listener into the heart of the song.
Combine this with the excellent musicianship and album artwork and you get the complete package that purists will eagerly lap up.
The trio of guitarists, Dann Rosingana, Steve Grocott and of course mainstay John Halliwell are all given opportunity to shine. This is no more apparent than on ‘Albion Born’ which for me is one of the album’s highlights.
Similarly, the guitars wail with emotion at the beginning of ‘A Smugglers Tale’ which brings to mind Spellbound era TEN.
‘Wild Horses’, which wraps up the album, also finishes in style with great guitar breaks, sublime keyboard / piano playing and to close out the last few seconds a heartbeat. Another reason why the headphones work so well.
Nearly all of the tracks come in at 5 minutes plus and this allows each song to build and tell its own individual story. And what stories they are.
Gary Hughes has long had the ability to compose complex opuses and maintains a high level of control over the whole process.
Credit then to Mr Hughes for not only composing "Albion" but also for finding the right band members to help deliver what is one of TEN’s best albums to date.
A welcome return to what they do best.
Rating - 9/10

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