Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: Ten “Stromwarning”

AOR/Melodic rock
I’ve always had mixed feelings about the band Ten. Loved by many fans of AOR and melodic rock, their songs have always struck me as overly long, infused with aimless prog rock that is probably fun to play, but not so fun to endure listening to. That said – there is rarely a Ten album that I can’t find at least a couple tracks to love.

After listening to their latest, “Stormwarning”, their ninth full-length studio effort, my attitude towards the band is not going to change. Singer and principal songwriter, Gary Hughes recruited Neil Fraser on lead guitars and Mark Sumner on bass, in addition to long-time members John Helliwell on guitar and Paul Hodson on keyboards. Mark Zonder (Fates Warning) takes care of all the drum duties, rounding out this version of Ten to create “Stormwarning”. Sonically speaking, the album sounds wonderful, but I am here for the songs.

“Endless Symphony” is the perfect illustration of what disengages me from the band…an over-the-top opus that clocks in at nearly 7:30 minutes – endless indeed. Lots of redundant riffs and runs that – while clever at times - do not lead to a satisfactory conclusion, making the song ultimately forgettable. “Centre Of My Universe” at least has a semi-solid hook in the chorus, but another 6 minutes later leaves me thinking I could have listened to 2 or 3 really good songs instead of 1 mediocre one. Highlights that I found to be worth the five plus minutes of my attention span include the sweeping title track and the rocking “Invisible”, as well as the infinitely more accessible “The Hourglass And The Landslide” and the lovely, Beatlesque closer called “The Wave”.

iPOD-worthy: 5, 6, 8, 10

Ten on MySpace. Official site.

Listen to “The Hourglass And The Landslide”