TEN – Illuminati
The melodic hard rock ensemble that are Ten have been around for quite a few years now and this 10-track album of theirs is the band’s 14th full-length opus, which is indicative of just how creative and productive these British gentlemen are. “Illuminati” is an astounding and fully-formed piece of work in the sense that each composition vibrates with depth and meaning.
Gary Hughes’ warm voice is rich on passion and has a wonderfully soothing quality to it. The (imaginative) melodies are beautiful and range from epic to melancholy and further on to aggressive and even uplifting. There is a haunting sense of introspection to the record with many of the tunes unfolding gradually only to eventually explode into a climactic grandeur. The way in which the different instruments complement each other is mind-blowing and the harmonies are marvelous while the majestic riffs add considerable heft to the sound. The lyrics are also highly evocative and interesting, which is obviously a huge plus. Anthems such as “The Esoteric Ocean”, “Jericho”, and “Rosetta Stone” are to die for and come across as vigorous and muscular, but the bombastic album opener “Be as You Are Forever” and the somewhat mellow “Heaven and the Holier-Than-Thou” also deserve much praise.
“Illuminati” is one of the year’s finest and most memorable melodic hard rock releases. My wife and I listen to it constantly and it just never grows old or loses impact. Simply superb stuff with loads of fantastic guitar- and vocal-hooks to it, and it certainly does not hurt that the cover artwork rules too. To these ears, this is the band’s most ambitious and complete work to date.