It's been five years since the British band TEN have released any music, and it's been somewhat of a tumultuous five years, with lineup changes aplenty. Gary Hughes stands firm as the band's front man and principal songwriter, he is joined by long time members John Helliwell (guitar) and Paul Hodson (keyboards) and new members Neil Fraser (lead guitar) and Mark Sumner (Bass). For the sake of the album the band were joined by guest drummer Mark Zonder (Fates Warning). Once the band was in place, the album was ready to go.
Opening with the most tribal-feeling drum beat I've heard for a while, Endless Symphony, the album's opener moves into a piano solo which has the feel of a movie opener. The build up tells you something big is coming. I also have to be honest and Gary Hughes' voice on this song sounded so much like Neil Diamond that I felt, quite rightly, unnerved! Unfortunately, the rest of the song, and album, doesn't deliver the big promise!
It's hard to pick songs that stand out. They're all musically impressive, but they're boring, lyrically a little cheesy, and vocally syrupy sweet like treacle. A classic example of this is Book Of Secrets, which has the chorus lines "Dirty book of secrets, Dirty book of lies, Ain't no body ever had a book like mine"...Seriously?! I would put money on those kids in Glee singing these songs before long!
What is most disappointing is that this album had potential. It is actually a good album, but it lacks any kind of wow factor. I didn't once find myself trying to sing along, or tapping my feet. A great album will promote a response in you. This is a good album with skilled musicians; there's just no excitement coming through in the performance. I would hazard a guess that this has something to do with most of the songwriting coming from one person. The best albums are often those where the whole band collaborates and feels excited about the songs.
Stormwarning is an album for melodic hard rock fans. Don't expect groundbreaking songwriting or performance. Overall, this is a disappointing return to the music world for a band with so much good music behind them, the best thing about this album is the cover!
TEN's latest album, Stormwarning, is released 18th February 2011 on Frontiers.