|Ten Return To Evermore||Intensity Records|
It's actually been two years since Ten's last studio album, Far Beyond The World. Being that Gary Hughes is always busy with different projects and last year was consumed with the Once And Future King releases, I didn't think I had missed the band during their time away.|
But one listen to Return To Evermore and I was reminded of just why I love the band and in fact, how much I had missed hearing new material.
Ten have their own unique sound, and Gary Hughes has his own distinct vocal style. The pairing of the two is something that really works and has impressed me since their debut album in 1995.
While always retaining their "sound", the band has varied their delivery in recent outings, heading in a heavier, more direct approach with the songs.
However Return To Evermore is a return to the band's trademark styles – epic rockers mixed with vocally complex, layered AOR anthems and power ballads.
This album is a return to the sound of Name Of The Rose and Ten, with a little of The Robe thrown in. And naturally, there are a couple of new twists too, but the end result is another cracking album that will appeal to the band's long time fans and those that adored the layered melodic bliss of the debut.
This album also sees the debut of guitarist Chris Francis. He's been on board for a while now and played all over the Once And Future King epics, but this remains his first Ten album. His sharp guitar work insures the band doesn't miss a beat from its past with guitar great Vinny Burns.
Before delving into a track by track analysis, there is one thing I did find with this album. It rocks where needed and the ballads are lush, but the mid-tempo AOR tracks are just superb. They are so utterly commercial, it will be hard for anyone to dislike the material on offer here.
The album also has a fairly relaxed vibe. The urgency and the more aggressive nature of the last couple of albums isn't here. And I for one like this approach. It's just an enjoyable melodic hard rock record that you can take on face value. Track By Track:
The album opens with the 8 minute plus epic Apparition, which is pretty much classic Ten in every way. The slow intro, the building tempo, the flailing drum and guitar parts and a few tempo changes; all bound together by a great melody and a memorable chorus. Oh, and did I mention the big guitar solo?
The track moves directly into Dreamtide, thanks to some well placed keyboard fills. A tight guitar riff kicks things along in a fairly relaxed manner before Gary's vocals give the song a direction. Another great chorus features heavily throughout the 6 and a half minute track. Another example of classic early Ten.
Evermore is a more intense, uptempo track and gets the groove going with some Celtic style keyboard fills a la Gary Moore. The pace is rocking, the guitars are filling the speakers and I love the chorus. It's a big harmony filled affair that will invoke sing-a-longs whenever played.
Sail Away is a magic ballad, no question about it. Typical again of early Ten, this one features strings, piano and a monster chorus that cannot be removed from one's consciousness once heard. An album highlight.
Starting with an acapella intro, Temple Of Love could be mistaken for a big rocker about to explode. But surprisingly it's in fact a very commercial, very simple and enjoyable pop rocker. The album is quite varied throughout and this is just another example.
Even The Ghosts Cry is another album gem. Again the intro hints at something different, with a guitar solo issuing in the song, which then appears in a burst of pure AOR melody. This is classic AOR, with layered vocals, prime keyboards throughout, a hugely melodic guitar riff (and killer solo), and best of all, a monster chorus that is as catchy as anything released this year.
Strangers In The Night continues the moody AOR passage of the middle of the album. This is a lower, slightly darker rock track with another strong chorus, all played down a little bit after the over the top nature of the preceding track.
Evil's On Top Of The World sounds heavy, and although it features a strong guitar riff, it's actually equally driven by acoustic guitars and keyboards. Another prominent chorus, but not my personal favourite of the album.
The One is another uptempo rocker with a strong keyboard fill and a more urgent, intense feel. Another good chorus makes the track, which is perfectly placed within the album.
Lost Soul is a very enjoyable, good fun uptempo rocker with another memorable chorus and some great lead and rhythm guitar work.
Stay A While is an acoustic ballad which turns heavier and darker. It flows quite nicely and is more reminiscent of recent heavier Ten tracks.
The album closes with something a little different. Tearing My Heart Out is easily the band's most modern sounding track ever, with a revised, aggressive guitar tone driving the song. The structure is slightly different and the chorus is certainly something new. I'm impressed to hear such a change of approach and enjoy this song, but at the same time, I'm glad the whole album is not in such a vein.
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