Now & Then / Frontiers FRCD 099
Produced by: Gary Hughes / Mixed by: Tommy Newton

Released: December 10 / Website
Closest Relative:

  1. Glimmer Of Evil
  2. Strange Land
  3. High Tide
  4. What About Me?
  5. Last Of The Lovers
  6. Outlawed And Notorious
  7. Scarlet And The Grey
  8. Heart Like A Lion
  9. Black Shadows
  10. Who Do You Want To Love?
  11. Far Beyond The World

There are not many bands in this scene that can get to album number seven these days. And as a band, Ten do have their detractors. But those that haven't given the band a chance or have failed to give the songs the time they deserve may just be missing out on some classic melodic rock.
I loved the band's debut and then had a period of time when I wasn't for or against the band. Their Spellbound album caught my attention early on and I have been a devoted fan ever since. Their last album matched the heavy rock of Spellbound with the more melodic tone of their debut. Far Beyond The World is different again.
After seven albums' it is also harder to nail which release is exactly their best. That job is made easier with Far Beyond The World, as we have an album that takes in the best power riffs the band offers, with a more commercial and hook friendly list of songs and easily the best sounding Ten album to date, thanks to the additional mixing of Tommy Newton.
Ten have moved through a few different sounds, while retaining the trademark sound of Gary Hughes' vocals and Vinny Burns' guitar playing. This album takes from the debut, from Name Of The Rose, from Babylon and from Gary's own solo album.
Collectively, I rank this album up there with the band's best ever, as I really like the songs and style the guys have chosen this time around.
Importantly, as I have said - there is something for everyone, but simply put, it is packed with great hooks and melodies. This album rocks, but it's not heavy. This album is more about songs and melodies and I like that a lot.
The first sing that things are a little different on Far Beyond The World is the first song Glimmer Of Evil. Gone is the long winded intro, rather a subtler and more laid back intro that heads straight into the song, even if the vocals still take a little while to appear. When they do, it's immediate to the listener that this is the sharpest sounding Ten album to date, with a great tone set, especially with the rhythm section.
The song features a great guitar riff, which is intense without being dominant and the chorus and vocals are both fairly subdued. I especially like the changing drum beat through the song.
The guitar riff on Strange Land is a little heavier again, but the song itself is not. Gary's vocals are very smooth and the chorus is memorable, without being an anthem. Vinny shines with a great solo mid song.
High Tide caught my ear immediately. This is the heaviest song of the album and comes straight out of the Ozzy Osbourne / Zakk Wylde song book. The guitar riff is awesome and the beat a little more frantic. Still, Gary's vocals and the added harmony vocals keep it melodic and hook filled. A typical big Ten chorus is kept short and the song remains one for those fans of the Spellbound album.
Track 4 and it's time for a ballad, which one must admit, this band do particularly well. What About Me? is the first of two power ballads on the album and should keep all fans of Gary Hughes and Ten's ballads happy.
Next up, Last Of The Lovers gets heavy again, but Gary's vocals remain soft, but firm, leading a short verse into a strong bridge and an extended vocal lead chorus.
Another fabulous melodic rocker is Outlawed And Notorious. This is Ten doing what they do best - a hard hitting guitar driven riff-fest, overtaken come chorus time by a great wave of harmonies, all while maintaining the fist pumping tempo.
Scarlet And The Grey caught my attention especially. With some very strong lead vocals, the song's verse is again guitar dominated, only to recede to a big melodic anthem chorus, filled with layers of harmony vocals. A particularly strong melodic chorus.
A change in tempo sees a style that I haven't heard from ten previously. Heart Like A Lion is a moody keyboard / synth dominated track with a soft Journey style guitar riff. This very laid back and atmospheric track bursts to life with a much heavier chorus and back, again. It's a very strong tarck and breaks the pace of the album nicely. A track that probably wouldn't be out of place on a Gary Hughes solo album.
Time to rock again! Black Shadows sees the band rocking hard again, with Vinny playing his heart out over a rock track that still features a very melodic hook friendly lead vocal. Another strong chorus and another album high point.
Who Do You Want To Love? features another unusual keyboard sound, layered several times over into an anthem feel and combined with Vinny's guitar work to take it completely over the top. The verse hollows out again to leave the vocal and keyboards, then it's bang into a big melodic anthem chorus, straight out of the Ten handbook. A different track that breaks the mould, while retaining familiar elements of the band's sound. Very cool.
Far Beyond The World rounds out the album, finishing with a big sentimental and powerful power ballad.
Special mention to new member Paul Hodson (Hard Rain), who's keyboard playing on this album is major league. It's throughout every song, adding to the tapestry of the album, yet with Tommy's mixing of the album, it is perfectly placed.
BOTTOM LINE: The established fan base of Ten should see this album as another fabulous addition to the band's catalogue of music. It stands out to me as an album that tries some new tricks, while retaining everything that people have found to love in the band.
Sad to see Vinny Burns leave the band, as his performance here is outstanding and Gary's songs as usual, are powerful, melodic and more personal than the last few Ten albums. For that reason, the album makes a better connection with me and I rate it as one of the band's best to date. I gave their last album 92, therefore I must mark higher again this time.
Add that to the excellent production and mix and fans of melodic hard rock have one of the better albums for the year.
ESSENTIAL FOR: All fans of Ten and Gary Hughes and Vinny Burns. Fans of good melodic European style hard rock.
DISCOGRAPHY:Ten . The Name Of The Rose . The Robe . Never Say Goodbye . Spellbound . Babylon . Far Beyond The World

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