|Ten The Twilight Chronicles||Frontiers Records|
Multiple line-up changes and dodgy re-recordings of past hits aside, Ten still have a passionate fanbase and a considerable catalogue of material many bands would be proud to call their own.|
I have said before and I'll say again, not too many bands of the recent era can boast as many albums to their name as Ten can. This is the band's 8th album of all new material and after giving their last album the 10th Anniversary re-recorded hits release a bit of a bollocking, I am happy to report that Gary Hughes and the gang are all but back on track with this release.
I'm not sure how appealing an album of re-recorded hits is anyway, so if you are one of those that have just been collecting the new studio albums as they come along, this will sound like the band has not skipped a beat since their Return To Evermore release.
There is a slightly different feel to this album, but with Ten that has often been the case as they have moved through their 10 year history and into their 11th.
I really like this release, but then again, I have liked every Ten release (of new material at least!) to date.
This album is going to appeal to those that liked the band's earliest couple of releases and the last studio album. Fans of the heavier middle period of the band's history such as Spellbound might not be as enamoured with this album.
And while I think the band is definitely back on track, I wouldn't go so far as to call this release classic just very good.
I'd like to take this opportunity to hail this album as lead guitarist Chris Francis' best work in the band to date, with some fine soloing throughout and a nice mixture of sounds and textures used. John Haliwell's riffing as usual holds it all together.
The 12 minute Prologue and opening track Rome sets up the album and while not overly catchy and certainly rather long, it drifts into The Chronicles which is pretty much a classic Ten track Gary Hughes' dulcet tones, soaring guitars and a great chorus hook.
The song's structure and method of moving between verse and the chorus is trademark of what Ten have done in the past. The familiarity will be appreciated by fans.
The Elysian Fields is all too familiar also - but in a good way. It is nothing I haven't already heard before, but this 7 minute ballad has a sweeping, haunting quality not unlike the band's early sound mixed with Return To Evermore.
Hallowed Ground gets the tempo back up and rocking again. A glance at the CD indicates another epic is upon us, this one running some 10 minutes. A nice guitar fuelled 2 minute intro lines the track up nicely.
Its some 5 minutes into the track before the full bridge-chorus-hook set up becomes totally apparent, but it's worth the wait. A nice guitar solo launches the track into its next phase, but at about the 7 minute mark things begin to wear a little thin as the track merely repeats earlier parts. There is no need to make this an epic for the sake of being epic. The track isn't that classic it needs to be this long.
This Heart Goes On is a typical sentimental Ten ballad with all the necessary elements heartfelt vocals, piano, stand out guitar lick. Surprisingly, as much as I like the song, the chorus is nowhere near as big as past ballads.
Oblivion amounts to what is my first real surprise of the album. I dig this album and the songs, but there really aren't any surprises until you get to this track.
Oblivion is one of the most commercial and openly upbeat tracks I have heard Gary write and perform. This is a cracking uptempo pop/rocker with a nice guitar riff and a brilliant chorus. Some seven minutes long, the track still ends too soon and I just love it.
The Twilight Masquerade heads back into more familiar territory. While getting off to a slow start, the typical rocker does build and brings a memorable chorus-bridge double once it hits its mark.
Tourniquet is somewhat different for the guys. This is another lengthy rocker, but the guitar sound is far dirtier and grittier for the lack of a better word. Gary's vocals remain smooth throughout and the chorus is ok, but the guitar rules this track.
Born To The Grave is also a little different. Typical Ten in its delivery, but a little left of center as far as the sounds of the melody and the layers within the song. It makes for an interesting listen, although at the end of the day it is not among my favourites of the album.
Closing the album is another epic well, 7 minutes and bit at least. When The Night Is Done is a slow starting moody piece of music that builds slowly during its run. No major chorus hook here, but subtle vocal memories and a lush, layered approach to the music.
It certainly has an epic feel and closes the album in a mildly dramatic fashion.
Still, there are some new Ten classics to be enjoyed and I think the die hard fans will be more than happy with the results.
The production quality is back on track and the real drum sound makes a welcome change from the Anniversary release. A couple of bigger choruses are about all I could ask for.
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