Saturday, November 22, 2014

Albion Born: A Review of Ten's Albion CD

When I made the decision to trek from Toronto, Canada over to Nottingham, UK for Firefest: The Final Fling in October of this year I knew a good portion of the bands on the roster for the three day event.  Some I knew quite well, some I had been waiting all my life to see live, some I had no idea of and some I was only on the fringes with knowing a few tracks.  Ten was one of those fringe bands.  I knew "of" them more than I knew the music.  I searched out and purchased a compilation release to try and familiarize myself with the material prior to the event.  Quite a few of the songs from The Essential Collection that I had purchased became regulars in my listening rotation.  I purchased two more full releases and again the same result for some of those tracks.  I was well on my way, quickly becoming a Ten fan.

Ten on stage at Firefest 2014 - photo by Shawn Irwin
Ten was born out of what was originally intended to be the third solo effort for British singer Gary Hughes.  Hughes, who had written a whopping 28 songs, joined together with guitarist Vinny Burns (Dare/Ultravox/Asia/FM) and the band evolved from there.  The debut, X, dropped in 1996 to rave reviews and sales and by the end of that year, the songs already written, the sophomore effort, The Name of the Rose landed.  Ten have had some differences in membership over the resulting years, the one constant always being Gary Hughes, but have issued a total of eleven albums including the aforementioned as well as the forthcoming Albion.  For Albion the band sees bassist Steve Mckenna, drummer Max Yates, keyboardist Darrel Treece-Birch and guitarists Dann Rosingana, Steve Grocott and John Halliwell alongside Gary Hughes' vocals.  And yes you did read that correctly, there are three guitarists!  Perhaps a bit overkill and I always smile at my stupid little joke of maybe they're trying to get their membership up to the band's name.

The Thursday night in Nottingham, the night before the concert festivities were to begin, there was an exclusive CD listening party for the first to sign up.  Ten's forthcoming album Albion was on the bill after In Faith's Debut release (In Faith CD Review).  Albion contains ten tracks all decent in length and some awesome cover art from Gaetano Di Falco depicting a medieval style, scantily clad woman holding a sword as fires rage in the background.  We begin with the lead single from the album "Alone in the Dark Tonight"'s charging guitar riff.  This track was rather magical during the Firefest performance as vocalist Gary Hughes requested that as many people film it as possible in their attempt at a Guinness Record for the most camera angles, I really have to remember to get mine posted on the Ten Facebook page!  From there the grinding yet melodic "Battlefield" is a showcase for Hughes.  "It's Alive" is an upbeat rocker while the medieval lyrical subjects of "Albion Born" assist in making it nothing short of spectacular.  The
7 of Ten @ the listening party - photo by Shawn Irwin
 keyboard beginnings of "Sometimes Love Takes the Long Way Home" unfold as the track ramps up.  "A Smuggler's Tale" is probably my top of the heap cut, an epic sounding composition with a great chorus.  The longest selection appears next in "Die For Me" at almost seven and a half minutes that pass by like nothing.  "It Ends This Day" has an infectious groove and chorus while the partially Italian language spoken "Gioco D'Amore" seem to drone on a little bit to me and serves as my least favorite on Albion.  The sound of a pumping heartbeat and tinkling of a piano start of "Wild Horses" explodes for the chorus and ends the record on an extremely high note.

Here's just one of the many fan filmed "Alone In the Dark Tonight" videos from Firefest Nottingham October 2014.  Watch for The Meister's videos from Ten and other Firefest performers coming soon to Decibel Geek's YouTube Channel
From knowing "of" them to album purchasing to concert cheering to joining the Ten Army fan page, I guess you could say I've become a full fledged Ten fan.  Now it's your turn and Albion is a great place to start!

BUY: Ten - Albion

The Meister

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