With this their latest album, Ten Jinn are looking backwards as well as forwards. While John Strauss (lead and backing vocals, piano, keyboards), Mark Wickliffe (drums, percussion, bass, synth, guitar, backing vocals) and Mike Matier (electric and acoustic guitars) are still there, Ken Skoglund (who had been involved since 2003) has left, although he did master the album. Bassist Matt Overholser has returned for the first time since 1999’s ‘As On A Darkling Plain’, Keyboard player Matt Brown is now a full member after playing on one track on ‘Ziggy Blackstar’, Skoglund has been replaced by Kenneth Francis while Stan Whitaker (Happy The Man) makes a guest appearance, also for the first time since ‘As On A Darkling Plain’.
The album is another concept, here loosely inspired by Jack London’s novel, ‘The Iron Heel’ (which apparently was one of Orwell’s inspirations for ‘1984’). Published in 1908, it is one of the earliest examples of dystopian fiction, telling the story of an Oligarchy, which takes over America during the first decades of the 20th Century. This chaotic period of the past is viewed through the lens of a 27th Century scholar (Anthony Meredith) working out of the “wonder city” of Ardis in the year 419 B.O.M. (Brotherhood of Man), still standing four centuries after the fall of the totalitarian state and leading to the eventual rise of an enlightened society. Dramatic concepts need dramatic music and that is exactly what we get here, and while there are two keyboard players there are also two guitarists (plus Stan), and this is dramatic stuff.
While it is polished, and often based on the piano, there is a sense of danger within this, an edge if you will. This is far removed from albums like ‘Alone’, yet there is also room for more commercial numbers such as “Adumbrations: beginning of the end”, and it is no surprise this was chosen as an early single with plenty of harmonies and powerful hooks. The album is prog which can be enjoyed the first time of playing, as while there is complexity and multiple complicated threads being pulled together to create the whole, it is surprisingly easy to listen to. The more one listens the more there is to hear, and while there is a lot going on the arrangements are clean and allow for everyone to be heard and have their time in the sun. This is their third album since their lengthy break, and is surely going to attract a great many more fans as this is superb from beginning to end.
It contains elements of neo, symphonic and crossover prog while also having some melodic rock elements, but there are also times when we get classical and Latin, all different flavours which allows the listener to take an enjoyable ride. The use of contrast is highly important, in all aspects from tempo and style through light and hard, so one is never sure where the journey is going to lead, just that it is worth taking.