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Ten | Heresy And Creed

by John Kindred
– Publisher —

Ten  - Heresy And CreedTen returns with their 10th studio album titled Heresy And Creed. Singer and songwriter Gary Hughes pulls in new members to the Ten family and follows up last year’s Stormwarning with a heavier album. Hughes, John Halliwell and Steve Mckenna welcome new band-mates; lead guitarist Dan Mitchell, keyboardist Darrel Treece-Birch and drummer Max Yates to their ranks. Produced by Hughes and Dennis Ward, who also mixed and mastered the album, the music harkens back to the band’s guitar-driven, heavier, more raw sound.

Heresy And Creed features 13 new songs (14 if count the Japanese bonus track) that are steeped in the tradition of Ten. So what is the Ten tradition, you might ask? Well, Hughes and company deliver epic-style melodic hard rock songs that, at times, push into the symphonic rock genre. Leaning heavily on lavish vocals, crunchy guitars, blistering solos and a tight and heavy rhythm section, Hughes proves to be a masterful songwriter who always pulls together a high caliber group of musicians to translate his vision.

After Stormwarning, the approach for this album came with little reluctance because it came with the hope that Hughes had rectified what went wrong with the previous outing: Overproduction. Ten’s formula for writing songs always has utilized various musical textures. The vocals always have been the key to their signature sound. This doesn’t change on Heresy And Creed, but compared to the last album, there are less effects on Hughes’ voice. He seems to be more upfront in the mix. It’s as though he is sitting in a room, singing to you. The background vocals maintain the same consistency as well, with not as much apparent effects, but they still sound anthem-like and arena filling.

The music this time around also puts the focus on the guitar. The keyboard synth sounds are there, but they take on a supporting role. The guitars are much like the vocals; a little more upfront in the mix with raw, if not drier and heavier, tonality. The guitar solos are treated the same. Obviously, the piano melodies are key focal points throughout the album. When they are needed to be heard, they are. The drums sound amazing; the kick drum is audible and helps to fill out the overall sound of the music without leaving holes in the audible landscape. The bass is balanced and eq’ed to support the drums and thickens up the bottom end of all the songs. The song structures also maintain the same style as previous efforts. Whether maintaining a heavy vibe from start to finish or moving from soft verses to full-on melodic choruses, the band always aims to utilize different dynamics to present their music and keep it all interesting.

There are some really great songs throughout the album. The opening song, “The Gates Of Jerusalem,” an instrumental, builds the atmosphere and delivers a mid-Eastern vibe and has inquisitive feel. “Arabian Nights,” “Gunrunning,” “Unbelievable,” “Insatiable” and “Game of Hearts” provide the heavier, guitar-driven tracks. “The Lights Go Down” and “Right Now” fall more into the AOR melodic rock genre. “Raven’s Eye” has a folk song feel, much like Ritchie Blackmore’s “Greensleeves.” “The Priestess” has a predominant groove. “The Last Time,” “Another Rainy Day” and “The Riddle” are what would be considered ballads.

Heresy And Creed is a fine return to form by Ten. New addition Dan Mitchell provides sure-handed, blissful and soulful shredding solos that are fluid and fit well into the arrangements of the songs. Hughes proves, once again, to be masterful songwriter. Ten fans will be happy with this go around, as the response to Stormwarning was mixed. This album is a pleasant surprise as we close out 2012.

Genre: Melodic Hard Rock, Hard Rock, Symphonic Rock

Gary Hughes – Lead Vocals
John Halliwell – Rhythm Guitar
Dan Mitchell – Lead Guitars
Darrel Treece-Birch – Keyboards
Steve McKenna – Bass Guitars
Max Yates – Drums

Track Listing:
1. The Gates Of Jerusalem (Inst)
2. Arabian Knights
3. Gunrunning
4. The Lights Go Down
5. Raven’s Eye
6. Right Now
7. Game Of Hearts
8. The Last Time
9. The Priestess
10. Insatiable
11. Another Rainy Day
12. Unbelievable
13. The Riddle
14. I Found Love *
*Japanese Bonus Track

Label: Frontiers Records


Hardrock Haven rating: 8.5/10