Album Reviews

Ten – Heresy And Creed Review

Released By : Frontiers Records

Genre : Melodic Rock

Link : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ten-Heresy-And-Creed/377736325588974

 

Lineup:

Gary Hughes – Vocals

John Halliwell – Guitar

Dan Mitchell – Guitars

Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards

Steve McKenna – Bass

Max Yates – Drums

 

Tracklist:

01. The Gates Of Jerusalem

02. Arabian Knights

03. Gunrunning

04. The Lights Go Down

05. Raven’s Ey

06. Right Now

07. Game Of Hearts

08. The Last Time

09. The Priestess

10. Insatiable

11. Another Rainy Day

12. Unbelievable

13. The Riddle

 

TEN mastermind Gary Hughes has never been one to try and do things in the traditional way. Throughout every album he has released whether as a solo artist, with TEN or with the numerous other projects he has been involved with there has always been an air of mystery and many facets that go against the grain of what should work. While his main band these days TEN definitely fall under the Melodic Rock banner, Hughes’ tinkering with what is usually the standard for the genre is what sets his band apart and makes them a group unto their own.

This latest album HERESY AND CREED follows the interesting path already begun on previous outings, and while I wouldn’t consider it the best TEN album (for me personally that arrived in 2000 and is titled BABYLON), it’s pretty darn close and will definitely have fans of the band jumping out of their skin at a new bunch of mostly great songs. As usual Gary Hughes himself manages to give a fantastic performance and really shows his keen knack for being able to get the most out of the confines of his limited vocal range. Musically the album feels a little heavier and meatier than the bands previous work and the monstrous production courtesy of studio legend Dennis Ward does a great job of bringing out the grandiose feel that these songs truly deserve. There have been a few line-up changes between last year’s release STORMWARNING and now, with only guitarist John Halliwell remaining, now making him the longest serving member of TEN asides from Hughes himself. But as usual though Hughes surrounds himself with some stellar talent with Dan Mitchell displaying some really classy lead guitar work, also long-time bass guitarist Steve McKenna returns after a two album hiatus. Darryl Treece-Birch brings the pomp and bombast, but does well to understand the intricacies of the trademark TEN sound and also knows when to hang back a little. Possibly the best addition to the line-up is drummer Max Yates Now I’m not sure where this guy came from or what he has done before joining TEN, but I really hope he plans on being a long-time member of this band because his individual effort on this album is one of the best instances of emotive, passionate drumming I have heard all year.

The album starts off with a now obligatory minute and a half intro which doesn’t interest me much but is over quick enough to be inoffensive. The album proper begins with ARABIAN NIGHTS which begins with some strong keyboard work, splits into a great lead guitar break and eventually settles into a meaty melodic rocker with a typically smart and enjoyable Gary Hughes lyric. The chorus in this one has a very Neo-Prog feel to it. The next track is my personal favourite moment of the album and after a bunch of listens I am pretty confident that it is my favourite ever TEN song, maybe the most enjoyable track Hughes has ever written. It has a great groove that almost feels like some sexual gothic vibe, or what some like to call Love Metal…The description doesn’t do it justice though, it’s just an awesome track, trust me. THE LIGHTS GO DOWN suffers a little for a couple of reasons. Firstly it struggles to follow the precious gem, and secondly it just gets a little slow and repetitive for its own good. Some great lead guitar work and drum fills save it from being a dud though. RAVEN’S EYE follows the slowness of the previous track and just seems to not offer up enough depth for a six minute song. RIGHT NOW has an almost electronica intro but then a very groovy melodic guitar riff steals the show. As a whole this song is a step back in the right direction after a couple of boring-ish tracks. The choruses could use a little more life, but I give credit to Hughes here who offers up one of the most active vocal performances of the album. GAME OF HEARTS combines some trademark classy Gary Hughes lyrics with a bit of a metal groove musically. The highlight for this track is the monster drumming and yet another mesmerizing guitar solo. THE LAST TIME begins with a piano intro and throughout feature Hughes singing in a tasty lower register that really suits his range. It does get a little tedious at seven minutes long though. THE LAST TIME is another sexual melodic feeling song full of swagger and yet again some great lyrics. THE PRIESTESS is one of those songs that manages to grow on you. I didn’t enjoy it much during my first two or three listen-throughs, but eventually it got me and then I actually began looking forward to it during later listens. INSATIABLE is probably just about the heaviest track that TEN have recorded and really motors along nicely. The bulk of this one is made up of a very standard heavy melodic rock guitar riff, but the band builds a soundscape around it and it all somehow just works. ANOTHER RAINY DAY is a bit of a let-down really. The lyrics are boring, the mid-paced groove goes nowhere and even the lead guitar work pales in comparison to the high standards set by the rest of the album. Gary Hughes is usually very good at writing these ballad tracks but if not sure what went wrong here. UNBELIEVABLE brings back the chunky grooves and leaves the previous track eating its dust. Closing track THE RIDDLE utilizes the piano intro format again to great effect. Later in the song when the full instrumentation returns it just sounds amazing, I just wish it didn’t take quite as long to get there.

So all up HERESY AND CREED is a bit of a mixed bag really. The good songs here are mostly as good as anything TEN have ever released, and with GUNRUNNING they have given us a pure treasure, but there’s also a few tracks that just seem to go on too long and even a couple that seem too far below the usual quality of this band that I think the album would have been better off without them. With the shortening of a couple of tracks, and either the removal or replacement of a couple of others this really could have been something special. It’s still an album that is worth every penny though, so if you are into melodic rock that refuses to toe the line and isn’t afraid to be pompous and bombastic check it out now. Also, on a slight side-note… If there are any fans of the band PRETTY MAIDS that haven’t checked out TEN yet can I suggest you make them your next port of call.

 

Written By ZeeZee

Rating : 8/10

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