Ten - Albion

Ten Albion cover
Rocktopia Records
A long time coming the new Ten album is the first of two new albums the latter of which is to see the light of day early next year. Following their second and seemingly final (?) rift with Frontiers records, the band who now boasts an impressive septet line-up after the entrance of two new guitarists recently, namely Dann Rosingana and Steve Grocott, on lead guitars, to form a triple pronged guitar attack team, along with John Halliwell who will be handling rhythm guitar duties, releases their eleventh album “Albion” on the newly formed Rocktopia Records, a company formed by the people behind the Firefest festival/Fireworks magazine.
The band that seemed quite in a mood to recapture their somewhat “lost” momentum, of recent years and were somewhat succeeding in doing so with their latest efforts, “Stormwarning”, “Heresy and Creed” seem to be continuing to down the same path with “Albion” an album that manages to combine strong songwriting, melody, splendor and pomp in good measure and harken back to the bands earlier releases.
Truly “Alone in the Dark Tonight” feels like it has been pulled out of one of the early band albums, maybe “The Robe” or “Spellbound” as it has both the epic air, but also the classic, Ten melodies running through it and creating a very pleasant, familiar sensation.
“Battlefield” by its title alone, would have you anticipate a fast and epic, rousing number and while it’s intro almost about delivers, it never quite breaks into a full-fledged, epos, rather, opting for a mid-paced melody keyboard and riff laced number, with cool melodies and solos and a good chorus, with Gary’s vocals sounding, really inspiring!
“It’s Alive” sounds a bit out-worldly, but it ends up being a rather good, melodious mid-tempo. While I feel that a little melody in there somewhere has been recycled from somewhere, it’s still a strong entry in the Ten canon.
“Albion Born” has the bizarre role of trying to be the big, epic number... it, begins with a mock, of the classic, sea Shanty “Drunken Sailor” with changed lyrics… and a slight time shift/syncopation. It’s a nice, re-imagining of the said melody with added parts that ends up sounding quite epic.
“Sometimes Love Takes the Long Way Home” is classic, GH, balladry, maybe a little more teary than I would have liked it to be, but who can argue with Gary, singing a ballad, it’s gonna be beautiful no matter what. It’s good, just not “Valentine” good or “At the End of Day” good...
“A Smuggler’s Tale” is one of those epic, songs that once upon a time Gary would easily write and enchant us with, but while in the case of a “Dragon Island Cathedral” that was effortlessly achieved, here things are not quite the same...
“Die for Me” seemed like it was going to be a bit of a disappointment, as I could not hear a hook, until a chorus hit me and it turned the tables completely. Well it just has all these verses that build and build at the beginning, that lead it to a slow start, and a rather long duration, but once it’s started, and the chorus hits you a second time, it’s hard rock heaven and absolute bliss. I just think they could have trimmed it down a little...
“It Ends This Day” begins with this “lustful” vocal that’s totally Ten and for me, it’s probably one of the highlights of the album, a 100 % pop-rock gem.
“Gioco D’Amore” is another absolutely amazing moment, a piano ballad that screams, classic 10. Bravo.
Last but not least “Wild Horses” is a nice closer, one of those “enticing” numbers, which leave you wanting more… and I guess, it might have been purposely placed there as there’s another album coming out soon… it’s slightly Celtic tone and postmodern pop tone, is just pure perfection.
Well Ten have done it. They delivered a really good album. Although, I still, hold, “Stormwarning” as a personal favorite, from their recent releases, I’m pretty sure the duet of “Albion” plus the 2015 album might be able to dethrone it, from my preferences, especially if the “other album” features some songs with elevated tempos as well, which might be the only “minor” complain that one might have from “Albion”, one fast “rousing” epic, would really have automatically made it, the best Ten album in years. Still, it’s mighty impressive for what it is.