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Ten - 2000 Babylon

ALBUM: Babylon
LABEL: Frontiers
YEAR: 2000


LINEUP: Gary Hughes - vocals * Vinny Burns - guitars * John Halliwell - guitars * Steve McKenna - bass * Greg Morgan - drums * Don Airey - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 The Stranger * 02 Barricade * 03 Give In This Time * 04 Love Became The Law * 05 The Heat * 06 Silent Rain * 07 Timeless * 08 Black Hearted Woman * 09 Thunder In Heaven * 10 Valentine


Whether you like them or not, one thing that cannot be denied is Ten's consistency throughout their five studio albums. Not often have Gary and Co. deviated from their own brand of melodic rock. So on 'Babylon' dont expect to hear anything radically different from what you have heard the band do before. Having said that, what 'Babylon' does offer is very high class melodic power rock from a band who continue to produce quality material. Ten's fifth studio album is a concept album that brings us the tale of two work-mates - Lex (an introverted, shy computer programmer) and Jen (an intelligent, naive, and slightly old fashioned personal secretary). Set in the year 2999 Babylon describes the love that Lex and Jen find with each other, Lex's devastation when Jen is murdered, and his plan to take revenge. Interspersed with the music are spoken interludes, which are synonymous with concept albums.

The Songs
'The Stranger' begins our journey to Babylon. It is immediately apparent that the stakes have been raised due to the brilliantly crystal clear production (an area that has previously let the band down). The song itself is a full throttle rocker, with Vinny Burns inspired solos flowing throughout. No time to breathe because 'Barricade' swaggers in majestically with a sound reminiscent of Dare's second album 'Blood from Stone'. Following on is 'Give In This Time', perhaps the closest Ten have come to straight laced AOR. With a chorus to die for and beautiful lyrics this song goes from strength to strength. After such a wonderful start (perhaps the best ever on a Ten album) the next couple of tracks -A- 'Love Became The Law' and 'The Heat', don't quite reach the same heights of the previous tracks. While they are good songs, I think it is on the heavy rockers and subtle ballads that the band excel, rather than the mid-tempo tracks. Things pick up again on 'Silent Rain'. Gary sings his heart out on this awesome piano-based ballad. Once again the chorus is huge and unforgettable. 'Timeless' is driven by a very cool and heavy middle-eastern guitar riff, which is supported by Don Airey's superlative keyboard parts. Back to hard and heavy we go with 'Black Hearted Woman' and 'Thunder In Heaven'. The latter is a remarkable track. As heavy as they come, even bordering on Power Metal. Greg Morgan's drumming is deserving of a special mention, his playing on this track makes you wonder whether he has a couple of extra limbs. Extraordinary. Ten finish off the album with another beautiful and soulful acoustic ballad in the form of 'Valentine'.

In Summary
Once again Ten have proven they are one of the class acts of the melodic hard rock genre. As I pointed out there's nothing new on 'Babylon', but who really cares when the material is of the highest quality. Gary's lyrics are mature and thoughtful, Vinny does what he does best and Ten as a whole give us another classy slice of heavy melodic rock.

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