Gary Hughes and Ten are back with their tenth studio album. “Heresy and Creed” combines all the elements we have come to love from Ten; rampant melodies, endless hooks, wonderfully emotive vocals, and brilliant musicianship all around. For those unfamiliar with these British rockers, Ten plays traditional hard rock with some symphonic touches, and teases with its AOR tendencies. Not a surprise then that the band ended up on Italy’s Frontiers Records.
Gary Hughes is the band’s vocalist, songwriter, and guiding mastermind. He and Dennis Ward did a stunning job on the production and mix, which is essential for this style of heavy edged melodic hard rock.
The album starts off with an instrumental, “The Gates of Jerusalem”. I’m not normally a fan of opening instrumentals and 90% of them add nothing to an album and are usually more a nod to ego than anything else. However, this one is a nice tone setter for the moody, “Arabian Nights”. Guitarist Dan Mitchell wastes no time tapping into his neo-classical guitar God vibe. Anyone who loves fretwork the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen, Michael Romeo, et al… should enjoy this album for the axe-work alone.
The melody driven shuffle of “Gunrunning” is next, ripe with soaring vocal harmonies and muscular riffage. One of the album’s most powerful tracks.
“Raven’s Eye” is traditional power-ballad with a renaissance atmosphere. The song arguably takes a touch too long to get to the vocals. But it’s worth it when it does.
Hughes made a truly bad call with the ill-conceived new wave keyboard intro to “Right Now”, an otherwise rocking track.
New drummer, Max Yates does some brilliant work on “Heresy and Creed”, and one gets a real taste of it on the massive wall of sound: “Game of Hearts”.
Keyboardist Darrel Treece-Birch spends much of the album as the ambient sonic glue of the record, but he truly comes to the forefront on the ballad, “The Last Time”.
“Insatiable” is one of the album’s meatiest tracks, with great riffs and a tasty melody line that chases the rhythm around the dance floor. Meanwhile, “The Priestess” has a nice bluesy swing to it.
“Unbelievable” has something of a shuffling boogie feel to it and offers one of the more modern moments to the album. The song offers huge vocals and spiraling melodies. Returning bassist Steve McKenna really leads the groove on this track.
“Another Rainy Day” is one of those tracks that sneaks up on you, but suddenly you find yourself addicted.
The album is full of potent sex and swagger rockers, with a couple of emotive ballads, and plenty of diversity without ever losing cohesion. That said there are also some down moments that seem more filler than fulfillment, and several tracks seem to run a touch too long as well.
“Heresy and Creed” is a reasonably strong effort by Hughes and company, full of bombast and variety. It’s one of those albums you can certainly turn on and enjoy from beginning to end, but there seem to be only a few tracks with long-term staying power. Fans of Ten will love it, and newcomers will enjoy the groove and melody, but likely won’t race out to buy it, which is a shame because it really grows on you. Give it a spin and see how it speaks to you.
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Rustyn Rose is a veteran music journalist who owns and operates Metalholic Magazine and Metalholic Radio.