2017 saw Ten back with their thirteenth studio album, and the third with the same line-up. It also saw their return to Frontiers Music, and straight from the off it was obvious that the band again really means business. Their hard rock pomp swagger has seen them compared with the likes of Magnum over the years, but that really isn’t a fair comparison at all. I am a huge fan of Magnum, having first purchased some of their music more than 40 years ago, and seeing them live multiple times (including the Storyteller’s Night tour), but to be honest Magnum have never managed the sheer presence and power that is obvious in all of Ten’s albums. Mind you, Bob Catley did play the part of Merlin on Gary’s superb ‘Once and Future King’ albums so does have a small part in their history.
This is a hard rock band who are all about playing to everyone’s strengths, and ensuring the music is always there to support Gary’s vocals. There may be three guitars, but there are times when the bass is mixed above all of them, while Darrel’s contributions on keyboards can never be overstated. His innate sense of melody and style is always apparent, and even on this album where he seems to take more of a back seat than on ‘Isle De Muerta’, his contributions add real polish and finesse (if you haven’t heard his solo work, or with the prog band Nth Ascension, then you should seek them out as well).
Since Ten first burst onto the melodic hard rock scene with their debut ‘X’ back in 1996, I have been a fan. There have been quite a few line-up changes since then, but Gary has always been at the vocal helm, steering the good ship where it needs to go, and with a highly settled line-up they continue to deliver wonderful albums. Well worth investigating for any fan of the genre.