TEN - 'Far Beyond The World'

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TEN - 'Far Beyond The World'

A Rocktopia user review by Dairenn Lombard.

Summary: Everything that’s right with Melodic Rock

The last Ten album with Vinny Burns would be one of the best records he ever recorded with Ten; the sixth release by Ten, Far Beyond the World. The album was not without its blemishes, however. “What About Me?” and “Far Beyond the World” deliver our two, obligatory piano ballads but they are enjoyable enough, fortunately. Nevertheless, “Outlawed and Notorious” and especially “Black Shadows” were definitely mediocre at best, and several of the songs suffered from being overly long. Even my favorites. I would have started fading out “Scarlet and the Grey” around the 4:40 mark, and there were two good opportunities for “Last of the Lovers” when Hughes vocals end at the 4:26 mark, or a fadeout during the gorgeous acoustic guitar section thereafter. Instead, each of these are 5 ½ and over six minutes long respectively. And the introduction to “Who do you Want to Love?” is a minute and thirteen seconds long! It sounds great, but you hear it all again anyway, so this probably should have been trimmed by at least 50 seconds somehow. Luckily, it is extremely easy to overlook these minor arrangement faux pas when you take in the overall work and appreciate the strength of the individual songs.

Tommy Newton give us nice touches like flanger effects—unheard of in 2001 releases—on Greg Morgan’s drum tracks and Gary Hughes’ vocals on tracks like “Last of the Lovers,” “Scarlet and the Grey” or “Heart Like a Lion.” Newton, along with Paulo Melo, established Morgan’s drum tracks with plenty of dynamic range, and a full, solid tone for a mix superior to the majority of mainstream Rock releases recorded in the United States, then or now. Newton sweetened this album with an overall warmer tone than usual, with excellent bass response that played well in my car, on my MP3 player and my Bose CD player at home. Do buy the CD, too—you will want the incredible artwork on the CD itself as well as in the liner notes as you read the lyrics. It helps given Hughes’ tenor and occasionally baritone performances, but they are also worth reading for their remarkable quality for being both mysterious yet totally captivating.

The real strength in this album is the real diversity to each of the tracks. It’s not one prototypical Melodic Rock song after the next with some meandering vocals and blithering, unintelligible guitar solos. You get seriously infectious earworms like “Glimmer of Evil” with a guitar riff so sick you can play this song two or three times a day for a week without growing tired of it. Heavy, rock steady groove with soulful, bluesy vocals that contrast against the stadium-worthy anthem during the Chorus. You can’t help but want to sing along. The next best track on Far Beyond the World is “Scarlet and the Grey,” with a sound so endearing, it fills you with the feeling of hope and happiness thanks to Paul Hodson’s textured synthesizer work. “Strange Land,” is an equally well-composed track with signature melodies and chord progressions that feel so good to listen to. Hodson also does a great job and is well featured on “Who Do You Want To Love?” This song keeps the diversity on this album going with sequenced percussion and keyboards that lead into the triumphant melody that introduces the song. Steve McKenna’s bass guitar tracks really shines on that track.

McKenna is also really well featured on the funky “Last of the Lovers,” which comes across with a lot of attitude and gives us everything we love about Melodic Rock: strong, fist pumping, melody-driven music with vocal harmonies in the chorus. You also can appreciate what he does during the chorus of “High Tide.” It’s not the strongest melody on the record but it still gives you plenty of the big, bad, hard rock attitude with heavy guitar, and an aggressive mid-tempo drum line. “Heart Like a Lion” is an unexpectedly bluesy track that is perfectly composed and arranged; you almost imagine watching a police drama on television when this one plays. It would also fit well as a showtune during a Broadway play. Sweet vocal harmonies, emotional guitar work, terrific lyrics and nice organ and piano work by Hodson makes this yet another winner.

Ten’s “Far Beyond the World” is far beyond anything you will have purchased that either won the rock GRAMMY® awards in 2001, or spent any time on the BillboardTM Top 40 and it’s definitely worth getting on high-quality, uncompressed digital compact disc and playing back on the car stereo or the surround sound speakers at home. You can’t squeeze the massive sound through just a pair of headphones on this remarkable release by Ten, which I regard as a “must buy.”

Dairenn Lombard (Rocktopia user name: starfire)

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TEN - 'Far Beyond The World'
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