As with a lot of bands, Ten took advantage of the lockdown to do some serious writing and eventually came up with enough material for two albums. The decision was then taken to release these songs as two separate collections, the first, Here Be Monsters, was released in 2021 and now we have the second, Something Wicked Comes This Way. The band are anxious to stress that these are two separate albums, and are not connected by a concept or theme, merely that all the songs were written in one go, in much the same way that their first two albums were produced in the mid-1990s.
Looking at the credits for this and the previous release, I noticed the absence of John Halliwell on guitar. In a way this is a shame, as he’d been involved with band since the early days, playing in the live band even if he wasn’t always involved in the recordings. However the reversion back to two guitars seems to give these new albums more light and shade and a far less cluttered sound, and there even seems to be more energy about the band.
After an intro tape quoting Macbeth the album opens with ‘Look for the Rose, where not only the title, but the whole feel of the song harks back to one of the band’s finest pieces, the title track of The Name of The Rose. It has some of the same epic feel, and while it’s not exactly thrash metal, it has its own momentum and urgency. ‘The Tidal Wave’ might start off as if it’s one of Gary Hughes’ ballads, but it soon takes the brakes off and takes off at a much faster pace. ‘Parabellum’ starts with a compilation of recordings or reports of war breaking out then becomes a great slice of almost pomp rock, with Darrel Treece-Birch’s keyboards to the fore. The title track s another that begins as if it may be a ballad, but turns into another confident rocker, and there aren’t many rock sings that end with some whistling these days.
After this the album does tend to slacken off a little. ‘The Fire And The Rain’ is a comparatively straightforward melodic rock song, a bit slight compared to what’s gone before, but ‘New Found Hope’ is the album’s big ballad, as opposed to the hints that have been dropped in the earlier songs, with a proper phones-in-the-air chorus, and almost a Celtic feel in the guitar parts, another nod to the past and songs like ‘Red’. ‘The Only Way Out’ and ‘When Darkness Comes’ have similar keyboard intros but while the first track is a bit throwaway, the second has a lot more about it, with an insistent riff, a typical Ten song. The closer, ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ is potentially another Ten epic with some fine guitar work to take us out on a high.
Following on from noting the band’s revised line up and the quality of a lot of this album, I’m quite happy to go out on a limb and suggest that this album, or at least a large part of it, is some of Ten’s best work since the mighty Spellbound album, 20-something years ago, when the band were doing serious business in Europe and Japan, and even seemed about to make a breakthrough in the UK. Why they didn’t is a debate for another day, and these are different times, but it’s a real pleasure to hear the band seemingly revitalised and putting out a quality album this deep into their career. Now how about some long-overdue UK gigs?
- Reviewed by Paul Quinton
- Something Wicked Comes This Way is released via Frontiers Music and is available now from here.
- Official Website
- Look For The Rose
- Brave New Lie
- The Tidal Wave
- Something Wicked This Way Comes
- The Fire And The Pain
- New Found Hope
- The Only Way Out
- When The Darkness Comes
- The Greatest Show On Earth