TEN - 'Stormwarning' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 21, 2011    
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If you've liked Ten before, you should enjoy this album.

It's been five years since the last Ten album, 'The Twilight Chronicles', but you would have to look back ten years to the 'Far Beyond The World' album to when the band were a fully fledged touring outfit. In that ten years there have been a fair few line-up changes, resulting in the band becoming little more than a studio project for mainman Gary Hughes, and as far as I know in that time there have been only two concerts, both in Gary's hometown of Fleetwood. Not really good enough for a band that used to tour the U.K. on a regular basis, and were also a big draw in Japan too. So when I heard that a new Ten album was on the horizon I was interested to hear who would be involved. Longstanding members John Halliwell (guitars) and Paul Hodson (keyboards) have returned, but that's it as far as the 'classic' line-up goes. Guitarist Chris Francis joined the band in 2003 but then left after the 'Twilight…' CD, so I admit I am just a little disappointed that Gary didn't see this as an opportunity to get Vinny Burns back in the fold, and also Steve McKenna on bass. Instead lead guitar duties are contributed by newcomer Neil Fraser, and bass is handled by Mark Sumner, who was John Halliwell's partner in his band Enzign. There is no permanent drummer in the band at the moment, Fate's Warning's Mark Zonder has filled this slot temporarily.

For the first time in a long time Gary Hughes has not produced the album, instead Pink Cream 69's Dennis Ward has been enlisted, which is a smart move, and as with anything he is involved with, the sound quality is perfect. Gary Hughes's voice is just as good as it has always been, and the strength and depth of his song-writing has not diminished during his exile from the scene. And even though it's a new line-up it's hard to spot a difference, Neil Fraser's guitar playing is closer to the style of Vinny Burns than that of Chris Francis, (not quite as good as Vinny, but then again who is?!)

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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The Frontiers promotional blurb describes 'Stormwarning' as being in the vein of the 'Name Of The Rose' and 'Spellbound' albums, but I think it's closer to the overall style of the debut with touches of 'Return To Evermore.' Unlike most Ten albums it's not an instant fix, it takes a few spins before those rich melodies really reveal themselves, but it's well worth the time. And if I have one complaint it's that the pacing of the songs is very similar, the album could do with a couple of rip-roarers like 'Fear The Force' or 'Wings Of The Storm', and also at the opposite end of the scale there's no real out-and-out ballad either. The majestic 'The Wave' comes the closest, and is a great song, but it would have been nice to have one of Gary's trademark sweeping power ballads like 'You're In My Heart' or the awesome 'Silent Rain.' But nevertheless this is still a great album. There is no real standout cut, but all are of a consistent quality, and mostly around the six or seven minute mark.

The opening 'Endless Symphony' begins with a classical sounding piano melody that gives way to a modern sounding guitar riff, and develops into a lengthy piece that has echoes of 'The Robe,' 'Kingdom Come' sounds like it could have come from Gary's 'Once And Future King' project, 'Book Of Secrets' is slightly reminiscent of 'After The Love Has Gone' with a sleazier lyric, 'Love Song' reminds me a little of 'Someday', and the chorus of 'The Hourglass And The Landslide' is quite simply one of the best Gary has ever come up with. Put simply, if you've liked Ten before, you should enjoy this album, even if you drifted away from the band in recent years. It's great to have them back, and all we need now is a full-scale tour to promote it. Over to you, Mr. Hughes…

Ant Heeks

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