Ten Stormwarning

by John Kindred
Staff Writer

Gary Hughes returns with his band, Ten, after a five-year absence, releasing Stormwarning on Frontiers Records. The band has seen turmoil over the last few years with several lineup changes. Joining Hughes for this leg of the journey are guest drummer Mark Zonder from Fates Warning, guitarists John Halliwell and Neil Fraser, keyboardist Paul Hodson and bassist Mark Sumner. Hughes also enlisted Dennis Ward as producer. Ward (Pink Cream 69) has produced albums with Angra, Place Vendome, Sunstorm and Edenbridge.

Everything that is wrong with Ten’s new studio album Stormwarning is the exact same issue as with the third Allen/Lande CD, The Showdown, that being neither disk brings forth new ideas. It’s a rehash of Ten’s formulated songwriting scheme, in which melodic, breathy vocals intertwine within mid-tempo AOR compositions. Layers and layers of guitars and vocals drench the album. Hughes has pulled new musicians into the fold, but as the primary songwriter, Stromwarning falls victim to the pitfalls of the same old song and dance.

The music is so syrupy that it’s enough to induce an upset stomach. It’s drenched so deep in vocal harmonies, studio effects, endless solos and repetitive themes. Truly, no instrument stands out as everything blends together. It’s like a perpetual journey across an endless sea with no land in sight, leaving the listener mired in the sand, looking at a mirage of hope that ultimately leads to a hole of an unknown depth. Stormwarning is disappointing after the past releases like Hughes Opus Once and Future King Part 1 and 2, or Ten’s The Robe and In the Name of the Rose or even their last album Twilight Chronicles, where Hughes mixed it up with more dynamic song writing.

It’s not that the musicianship sucks or the vocals suck. There is just not anything here that promotes excitement. The more that Hughes stays in his current melancholy state of mind, the more Ten sounds like the Goth-rock band HIM. After five years, one would expect something more creative and dynamic than what we get on Stormwarning. In fact, the album title should be a warning to fans because there usually is a calm before the storm. On this their 10th album, the band chooses to play it safe and not venture into the eye of the storm. Unfortunately for fans, it leaves you wanting more and truly disappointed.

Genre: AOR / Hard Rock

Gary Hughes (v)(g)
John Halliwell (g)
Neil Fraser (g)
Paul Hodson (k)
Mark Sumner (b)
Mark Zonder (d)

Track Listing:
1. Endless Symphony
2. Centre Of My Universe
3. Kingdom Come
4. Book Of Secrets
5. Stormwarning
6. Invisible
7. Love Song
8. The Hourglass And The Landslide
9. Destiny
10. The Wave
11. The Darkness (Japanese Bonus Track)

Label: Frontiers Records

Hardrock Haven rating: 4/10

12 Comments on Ten Stormwarning

  1. From this review, it sounds like I will love the new album. I really dig all their studio albums except for the Twilight Chronicles which only had one good tune in my opinion.

  2. I my opinion “Stormwarning” includes the greatest melodies, harmonies and solos TEN has ever written. Yes, it’s a really syrupy album, but every TEN album is somehow kitschy and I love every second of it! And the production of Dennis Ward is superb! Every single instrument is exactly, where it should be, listen with your most expensive headphones and enjoy. Thanks to Gary Hughes and his mates for such an incredible album. Read my full opinion soon on my website.

  3. RockOn Hardon // January 20, 2011 at 5:41 pm // Reply

    This album is class it is absolute quality it might not have progresive rock songs like the first 3 cds but the hooks and the band are all in tune and it makes an amazing cliffhanger it makes you wanna hear more and very soon.

    minimum 7/10

  4. This is a great album and i rate it high 8/10 and i have it now for a few weeks.
    I think the guy who reviewed this cd listened to another cd because he really doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
    The layers are perfect TEN.

  5. I don’t think the revieiwer likes Ten, as I’m a fan, and I am in no way disappointed with this album, it’s a complete return to form, and with the right kind of promotion I even think ‘Endless Symphony’ could be a hit.

  6. Hey, I agree with the others’ comments in favor of the band. I just discovered this band last month, and I am impressed with their older and newer music. I watched the official video release of “Endless Symphony”, and it’s awesome! This critic just isn’t giving them credit for what they are, but judging them by what he simply hopes for… not objective.I think they are one of the best bands I have found lately. Rock on, TEN!!!

  7. What a total waste of webspace this review is.
    If you don’t like the band then why review their album.
    This is TEN at it’s best I must say, syrupy yes, but that’s how I like it.

  8. With Stormwarning teN make a welcome comeback. Endless Symphony and Book of Secrets are the tracks that stand out for me on the first few listens. This album does’t stray far from the classic sound of the band, although Book of Secrets is a track that, lyrically, far more edge than many ten’s previous songs. Stormwarning is a good album, not a great one, but one the band can really kick on from. I’d love to see them stray from the classic ten sound in the future; it might split opinion, but it would keep things fresh and Gary Hughes is a talented enough songwriter to pull it off. So glad they’re back.

  9. Some of these comments defy belief. Why review the album if you don’t like the band? Well, could it be because some of us past puberty would like to read something objective every so often rather than myopic fanboi dribblings? This is why AOR has disappeared up its own arse – every lacklustre, recycled album is “a classic”, “the best yet”, every cobbled-together bunch of euro hired hands is “a supergroup” and every other song is “killer”. So out we go and buy them and we discover that, guess what, every album sounds like every other bloody album because 90% of amateur website reviewers have the critical faculties of a ham sandwich and apparently you’re only allowed to review stuff that gives you a hard-on. I’ve heard this. It sounds like Ten. Ten years ago, ten albums ago, whatever, it just sounds like Ten. The reviewer is spot on and almost everything he says is equally applicable to about 90% of Ten’s output which is just about as formulaic as it gets and has been going round in ever-decreasing circles since Spellbound, probably earlier.

  10. Finally, Gary Hughes has managed to realize that he needs some help behind the production board. Yes, he can arrange and produce but putting this role into the hands of Dennis Ward has only made given the music more punch and a greater execution.
    Songwriting, this is Gary’s best material since “Spellbound” which was over a decade ago. Nevertheless we are still waiting on the epic that Hughes is quite capable of producing. The open track “Endless Symphony” has those elements but the remainder of the album as good as it is still needs a greater flavor. Hughes has already lost two capable songwriters in the form of Vinnie Burns and Chris Francis and still possesses keyboard player Paul Hodson who has released his own impressive solo album. Until Hughes is willing to collaborate Ten will not live up their name.
    Nevertheless, “Stormwarning” while perhaps safe is by far not drivel. Quite the contrary it is Ten’s best album in over a decade. But if Gary wants Ten to release a ten that he must be willing to collaborate and take his vocal performance out on the edge to give his music creation the sharp and epic feeling that Hughes and Ten are more than capable of doing. Don’t make us wait too much longer.


  12. Returned from evermore // May 26, 2011 at 12:59 pm // Reply

    Why are some people so downbeat! If they changed their sound people moan if they keep a similar sound people critise, enjoy the music!! Quality album maybe needs a “rule the night” kind of track but still worth buying.

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