Britain’s crown prince of melodic hard rock, Gary Hughes, is back with his sixteenth volume of work under the Ten banner, and very satisfying it is too.

Although the underlying feel of Something Wicked… seems a little darker than we’ve become used to from our hero and his band of brothers, there’s still a lot of highly polished melodic brilliance underpinning the grinding guitars of Steve Grocott and Dann Rosingana; the shimmering piano line that ushers in The Tidal Wave could have come from a long-lost set of Styx outtakes, whilst the frankly brilliant The Fire and The Rain must surely rank among the best efforts to come from the free-flowing Hughes pen in recent years; This is truly stupendous Brit AOR of the highest order, with Hughes delivering a killer first verse in counterpoint to the musical backing (and some fabulous keys work from Darrel Treece-Birch that remembers Jonathan Cain in his pomp, before the madness took hold) that’s one of the best pieces of musical execution this writer has heard in a long, long while.

This is Ten we’re talking about, so there are usually a few clunkers kicking around to muddy the waters, or so you’d think… therefore it’s a pleasure to report that SWTWC, overlong title track apart, is absolutely free of clunk. Every track brings something to the party, from pompous grandeur (Parabellum) to tear-jerking balladry (New Found Hope) and all points in between, Hughes and company (the lineup for this album is completed by guest drummer Marcus Kullman and bassist Steve MacKenna) leave no stone unturned to bring you the best version of this band since, ooh… 1998’s Spellbound, I’d say. The renaissance of the band, which we here at Sentinel Daily tentatively began with 2018’s Illuminati, progresses from strength to strength, and it’s great to be along for the ride

Something Wicked This Way Comes is out now.