Melodic Rock Round-up: November 2012

Dave Ling on new releases from Ten, Impera, Dokken, Escape and Chasing Violets

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Ten: Heresy And Creed

The 10th studio album from melodic hard rockers Ten arrives in the 10th month of this year. Can it merit 10 out of 10? Sadly not, though it does perpetuate a return to form instigated by 2011’s Stormwarning, the group’s most consistently rewarding album in a decade. Ten’s lush marriage of tender AOR, ripe pomp-rock and harder textures has never been easy to perfect and after seemingly relinquishing control of the recording console for good, Hughes wisely retains the in-demand Dennis Ward as producer. Sonically speaking, Heresy And Creed sounds as epic, dramatic and downright colourful as the grandiose tales of dragons, priestesses and Arabian nights that fuel the Lancastrian singer’s dreams. If some find them chucklesome then it’s worth remembering that Hughes wrote a string of solo albums for Magnum’s Bob Catley. If you’ve enjoyed Ten before then relax in the knowledge that this album plays to all of their strengths, from the strident Gunrunning to the classically-themed Raven’s Eye and the massive, sweeping ballad The Last Time. (810)

Impera: Legacy Of Life

Named after JK Impera, a drummer who has played with the likes of guitarist and songwriter Vinnie Vincent, among others, Impera also feature the much-travelled duo of Matti Alfonzetti on vocals and guitarist Tommy Denander. This extremely fine debut from the Swedish four-piece is crammed full of cultured, very hummable rock anthems and top-quality musicianship. (810)

Dokken: Broken Bones

Dokken’s final studio album is, sadly, a sore disappointment. Apart from its opening and closing tracks (Empire and Tonight respectively), Broken Bones rarely manages to get out of second gear. The title track is among a mere handful of good tunes and, as Don admits elsewhere this issue, after suffering a torn vocal chord, his voice is now a shadow of what it once was. (510)

Escape: Unbreakable

Sworn to pick up the baton that was once carried by FM, Strangeways and Dare, the UK’s Escape are fronted by Stevie K, once of Contagious, and their songs are daubed with the keys of the brilliantly named Roland Moog. While debut album Unbreakable shows the band clearly have a slight proclivity for lumpenness, when Escape do get it right, they’re very good indeed. (610)

Chasing Violets: Outside Heaven

A pair of young French sisters, Chasing Violets are protégés of Frédéric Slama, responsible for a string of all-star records made under the handle of AOR. It comes as no surprise, then, that Outside Heaven features a slew of contributors. Luckily, Mélissa and Sarah Fontaine manage to avoid being sidelined on this spirited collection of West Coast-flavoured songs. (710)