"Babylon" (Frontiers)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Before I re-read my review of "Spellbound," the previous album by Ten (below), the words "musical tapestry" came to me unbidden as I listened to their new release, "Babylon." "Musical tapestry" is a phrase that describes Ten's rich, lustrous sound perfectly. It's a near-perfect weaving of studio recording and live musician talent. And, with "Babylon," they've taken everything up a step or two and have produced a record that's much better than the last one. And the last one was pretty damn good.

"Babylon," like "Spellbound," boasts a strong Whitesnake/Deep Purple influence but somehow expands on it, giving the entire CD a powerful, opulent sound that surrounds the senses and draws the listener into its world.

The songwriting and the musicianship here are remarkable. Pains were taken to ensure that the songs were strong enough to stand individually and yet obviously part of a bigger picture. The guitars are solid, the leads expressive. The rhythm of the drums provide the CD's much-needed forward momentum while keyboards and synthesizers are used to perfect measure.

In addition, "Babylon" is as much about storytelling as it is about rock'n'roll. The lyrics and spoken audio bits combine with the music to create a musical novella about the future and hope for the soul of mankind. Unlike some other album of its type, "Babylon" is easy to follow and to understand. 

"Babylon" is a hell of an achievement. It's a concept album whose "chapters" are as powerful individually as they are as a whole. It's a band's vision perfectly captured. It's the kind of progressive hard rock that gives "melodic" a good name. It may not be for those who prefer the rough-hewn edges of Pantera or Sepultura, but any fan of melodic rock will consider this one a keeper.

Ten is: Gary Hughes - vocals; Vinny Burns - guitars; John Halliwell - guitars; Steve McKenna - bass; Greg Morgan - drums. Special guest: Don Airey - keyboards.

"Spellbound" (Frontiers)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Ten weave a rich tapestry of melodic rock that is incredibly well-produced and performed. The music brings to mind the sound of Whitesnake but is more complex and atmospheric. The best track is the title track, "Spellbound," which is a big, splashy, unapologetically melodic number (and also the most Whitesnake-like) and "Fear the Force," a song with an extremely unique guitar riff that takes you by the hair and shakes you to the rhythm.

Ten may be too melodic for some. Some of the slower songs could have come off of the livelier Elton John albums. All told, however, the thirteen tracks on "Spellbound" are strong, powerful, heavily guitar-driven and performed with zest by lead vocalist Gary Hughes.

Ten are Gary Hughes - vocals; Vinny Burns - guitars; Steve McKenna - bass; Ged Rylands -  keyboards; John Halliwell - guitars; Greg Morgan - drums and percussion.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Revised: 28 Aug 2022 14:16:30 -0400 .