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Ten: Here Be Monsters
Spirits Of Fire - Embrace The Unknown Album Art

Ten: Here Be Monsters

Melodic Hard Rock
3.5/5.0

Four years later, we arrive at a new Gary Hughes album, Here Be Monsters. Wait. You mean a new Ten album, right? Yeah. Okay. A new Gary Hughes album not so cleverly disguised as a Ten album. But make no mistake about it, the fact of the matter is that a Ten album is and has always been about Hughes's voice and songwriting. He started as a solo artist, now he's a solo artist with a permanent band. The upside is also simple: this evolution has made Gary Hughes a better artist. The musicians he works with are both talented and exceptional. Guitarist Steve Grocott and keyboardist Daniel Treece-Birch are just two of the remarkable talents in the band.

Ten - Click For Larger Image

Ten: but only seven showed up for the photo shoot.

Musically, with Here Be Monsters, nothing has really changed for Ten for ten years. If you're a fan, stop reading and buy both the physical and digital albums. If you love classic melodic hard rock, leaning slightly to the adventurous side like Kansas, but not sounding the same, you will also enjoy Ten and this album. And so, the description remains the same. Catchy songs with great melody and harmony, triple guitar harmony to boot. And, of course, the guitars deliver an abundance of tasty leads. Hooks in both lyrics, usually the refrain, and arrangements are abundant. There's the usual synth embellishment to add both atmosphere and depth. The rhythm section sways between essential hard rock groove and steadiness and some near power metal bombastic flair. Above all this is Gary Hughes' effortless, steady and melodic, monotonous vocals and vocal arrangements. I say effortless, not because it comes easy for him, but that he doesn't seem to be working to hard at singing. And monotonous because he always sounds like, well, Gary Hughes: steady, following song melody, but never exerting or over exerting himself. This vocal methodology is so characteristic of him that, if you stuck nine-inch nail in his butt while singing, it would have no effect on his skill or range. He would just keep on singing the same way. Gary Hughes is a machine.

Speaking to the songs, and as usual, I liked most everyone within Here Be Monsters. For pure melodic hard rock, perhaps with some metal and prog nuances, Strangers On A Distant Shore, The Miracle Of Life, Chapter And Psalm, and the acoustic led Fearless are classic Ten. All are also examples of how all Ten songs turn on a catchy refrain. If you're a Hughes fan, his voice is heard larger within Anything You Want and the anthemic ballad The Longest Time, both with a delightful Treece-Birch piano. All in all, and as expected, Here Be Monsters is another typical Ten album, one filled with melodic hard rock songs informed by excellent and talented musicianship. Easily recommended.

An addendum: the album art is very cool, something of an optical illusion at first glance. Very creative. If it didn't have the Ten logo, I would use it as wallpaper on my computer.




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The Take Away

As expected, Here Be Monsters is another typical Ten album, one filled with melodic hard rock songs informed by excellent and talented musicianship. Easily recommended.

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