"As on a Darkling Plain" (Century Media)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

As much as I like the film "This is Spinal Tap," I've often thought it was unfortunate that Rob Reiner and the gang were so dead on when it came to their satire. In fact, I'm often reminded of a year-end review I read somewhere that stated that "Spinal Tap" would be the death of heavy metal. (Thankfully, that didn't come to pass.)

However, as an example, I'll site "As on a Darkling Plain" by Ten Jinn. You can't even get past the album cover - which boasts a sinister silhouette photograph of Stonehenge - without thinking of the faux heavy metal band. (Who can forget the scene in the film when the tiny Stonehenge prop was lowered to the stage?).

Unfortunately, it wasn't only the imagery that the filmmakers of "Spinal Tap" parodied, but the music as well. And, again, they were just dead on. Because of that - and because of the Stonehenge image on the cover - the music of Ten Jinn reminds the listener of the film as soon as it begins. It's that progressive, arty hard rock that is a cross between Journey and The Alan Parson Project. Spinal Tap's music was dumber, but it was supposed to be.

The above, perhaps unfairly damning, paragraphs should not be used to judge Ten Jinn. The band plays rock'n'roll as an art form and this CD tells an epic tale. The artistry herein includes the band's musicianship, its songwriting and its scope. The CD begins with the title track(s), divided into an eight-part chapter, and is followed by six separate songs, all of which are inspired by and include quotations from Anne Rice's vampire novel series. The music is haunting at times, eerie at others and multi-layered throughout. The vocals of John Paul Strauss are reminiscent at times of Journey's Steve Perry and at other times, truly unique.

A quick look at the bandmembers and instruments that they play (below) will give you an idea of the sophistication and complexity of Ten Jinn's sound. Fans of progressive rock, especially that that leans more toward the more classic sound of Emerson Lake & Palmer than the modern sound of Spock's Beard, will no doubt find "As On a Darkling Plain" a fascinating listen.

Ten Jinn is: John Paul Strauss - lead and backing vocals, piano, keyboards; Mark Wickliffe - drums, percussion, backing vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass; Matt Overholser - electric and acoustic bass, stick; Bob Niemeyer - keyboards and backing vocals; Michael Matier - electric, acoustic and midi guitars. Guest musicians include Stan Whitaker - guitars; Kenneth Francis - electric guitars, backing vocals. 

For more information, please visit http://www.tenjinn.com

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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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Aug 2022 14:16:30 -0400 .