Frontiers / Now & Then FRCD 046
Produced by: Gary Hughes

Released: AUGUST 28 / Website
Relatives: Thin Lizzy, Whitesnake

  1. The Stranger
  2. Barricade
  3. Give In This Time
  4. Love Became The Law
  5. The Heat
  6. Silent Rain
  7. Timeless
  8. Black Hearted Woman
  9. Thunder In Heaven
  10. Valentine

Ten have had an interesting career. They have never really released two albums the same, while also never straying from a fairly distinctive sound.
Singer/songwriter Gary Hughes has had a more varied approach in his solo career, but Ten is what ships the major units and after 18 months, Babylon is the latest album from the guys.
I loved the heavy AOR of the debut but strayed a little from the middle couple of releases. Not until their last album Spellbound did I think the band had hit their straps and really made an awesome album.
I am pleased to say that in my opinion, this is another awesome album. Babylon does not break any news ground, rather it mixes - for the first time - two elements of their past.
The album takes the tougher and more straight forward aggressive nature of Spellbound and brings back the more melodic feel of their debut. This is the most obviously melodic Ten album since that self titled debut, yet it
retains the intense guitar and vocal sound discovered on their last album.
The album is also a concept album but generally you wouldn't know it. Every song plays off it's own individual merits and thankfully unlike too many other concept albums, there are pronounced choruses and the tracks don't go on for 20 minutes. Instead Babylon is a to the point, 10 track, 55 minute album. The only small complaint is the sometimes annoying spoken word voice-overs. They can take somewhat from the otherwise flawless flow of the album.
Keyboard wizard Don Airey has been added to the album's line up and I must say his contribution is marvelous. Almost subtle, his keyboard and organ contributions are evident in every track, without dominating any single song. He basically adds texture and musical depth to the album.
Track By Track:
The Stranger opens the album as Spellbound was opened, with a big hard hitting guitar swirling hard rocker. Fast paced, in your face and Vinny Burns guitar solo's everywhere. Fans of the last album will love it.
Barricade opens with more swirling guitars and a pounding rhythm section, plus Don Airey plugging away. The verse gives way to a cool raspy Gary Hughes vocal and the chorus is more reminiscent of a Gary Hughes' solo record, but obviously much heavier.
Track three sees the first evidence of the return of the style of the debut. Give In This Time is pure AOR in the heavy melodic tone of tracks like Can't Slow Down. The much improved vocal tone of Hughes rules the song and the chorus is a mutli-layered AOR fest.
Love Became The Law is another major melody filled track. More sharp AOR, but in a dark, heavy and moody tone. Once again there is so much going on in the background, it will take several listens to appreciate everything going on.
The Heat is a simpler, more straight ahead uptempo rocker.
Silent Rain is a classic Ten ballad. This is the type of track the guys are famous for and have turned out on a regular basis. That so, I am far from tired of them and enjoyed this heavy 6 minute epic ballad as much as, if not even more than the others. The chorus really raises the roof!
Timeless is a cool dark heavy rocker. This is where Don Airey really gets to play a major role in a song's texture. A big heavy keyboard and guitar driven rocker.
Black Hearted Woman is another catchy uptempo pop rocker that seems lighter than some other tracks, but only because it is less musically complicated. Makes a nice breather from the more intense tracks.
Thunder In Heaven is simply massive. Another dark and heavy hard rocker, this is one of the heaviest tracks the band have recorded to date. Intense and hard rocking.
Valentine is almost a complete contrast to Thunder In Heaven. This track is a mellow, yet dramatic finale to the album. Just a keyboard and vocal start the track, but as it winds it's way thru almost 6 minutes, the track becomes another monster intense Ten power ballad. Great stuff.
BOTTOM LINE: Due to the nature of this business, Ten are always going to have their detractors. They are also a somewhat acquired taste, but for me, I am sold on the band. Their last album assured that and the fact the intense production and style of that album have been mixed with the more favored melodic influence of their debut, plus adding touches of Gary Hughes' solo album, mean this album for me is possibly their best to date. That time will tell. Already established Ten fans will love it, others that have resisted thus far will probably continue to do so.
ESSENTIAL FOR: All fans of Ten, Gary Hughes, Bob Catley and Co.
DISCOGRAPHY:Ten . Name Of The Rose . The Robe . Never Say Goodbye . Spellbound . Babylon