February 28, 2022

It is a great time to be a fan of the music of Gary Hughes and Ten as we have recently had a new album and double CD retrospective from Hughes and now it is time to celebrate all things Ten and their pure mastery of the melodic rock market. Not only do we have this new album to celebrate and enjoy but the band has used the time afforded by the lock down caused by COVID to actually produce two albums and we will see album number two later in the year and this will be a totally separate release to Here Be Monsters so it is definitely not part two of this release.

Photo: Adam Gee

I have to admit I have been a fan of the band since they released the debut album X in 1996 and how could you not fall for a band that featured the golden voice of Hughes and the mercurial guitar skills of Vinnie Burns and showed that whatever the American giants could do then the Brits could do just as well. This love for the band and Gary Hughes prodigious solo career too has lasted through the years and I can honestly say that neither he nor his band has let me down and the music has always been exceptional. The production values have always been immense and the band’s sound is as big as it can get but it has always been about the band and never any individual musician meaning that egos have never got in the way of doing what is best for the group and the album that they were currently working upon. So, step forward Gary Hughes a true national treasure as he is a masterful singer, brilliant songwriter and talented producer and he has always brought an extra class to the proceedings so that you always know he is going to give everything he has and he is one of those inspirational leaders who also brings out the very best in his team.

There have been changes over the years, the band is 28 years old after all but regardless of who is involved the standards have always been set and maintained at the highest level. Indeed, the line-up has been pretty stable over the last few years which has seen the release of some incredible albums with Albion (2014), Isla De Muerta (2015), Gothica (2017) and Illuminati (2018) and all being as good as any the band has produced over the years and what a really strong sequence of albums too. We now have to say goodbye to the drummer Max Yates who has served the band very well and we welcome his replacement in Markus Kullman (Sinner, Glenn Hughes, Voodoo Circle) and what an addition he has been. So, the band continues with Gary Hughes on vocals and guitar, Dann Rosingana and Steve Grocott on lead guitars, John Halliwell on rhythm guitar, Steve McKenna on bass and Darrel Treece-Birch on keyboards and programming.

Hughes has always been an exceptional song writer and his themes have often been huge and complex but can also be light and dreamy should the occasion require and he is the master of the concept too and likes his albums to tell a story so that the listener is always engaged and engrossed, however, I do not believe that there is a central concept running through the album or if there is then I haven’t picked up on it yet. Here Be Monsters is another fine addition to the bands catalogue being a smooth and class filled AOR delight with all of the expected pleasing hooks and vocal harmonies with Hughes showing that his voice is a strong as ever whilst the three guitarists combine perfectly with some great riffs and lovely solos but this is not heavy metal so do not expect long and extended solos but what you do get is exactly what is required for each song. The ballads are lush and sumptuous and when the band goes heavier then it becomes a little more frenetic but always in control and perfectly directed. Gary Hughes’ rich, soul infused vocals are sumptuous and divine and he truly should have greater acclaim not just for his voice which is amazing but also for his song writing abilities too. He is surrounded by a brilliant team of musicians and the quality of their work on this release is off the scale and the production work of Hughes and mixing and mastering by Dennis Ward is of the highest order making the album so clear, bright and vibrant. The album features ten tracks of perfectly crafted melodic rock that is as good as anything that the band has done with everyone in perfect harmony and the tracks giving an immediate and most satisfactory hit of instant pleasure that only the greatest of bands can give.

If you are a long standing fan then, no doubt, you will already own this new and exciting album but if the band is new then this is as good a place to begin your investigation into the best melodic rock band in the UK and there are very, very few elsewhere in the world who can match them in terms of quality, musicianship and recorded output.

Here Be Monsters

  1. Fearless (6:49)
  2. Chapter And Psalm (8:16)
  3. Hurricane (4:33)
  4. Strangers On A Distant Shore (6:03)
  5. The Dream That Fell To Earth (6:20)
  6. The Miracle Of Life (5:46)
  7. Immaculate Friends (5:18)
  8. Anything You Want (4:46)
  9. Follow Me Into The Fire (7:11)
  10. The Longest Time (4:53)