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Ten Jinn — Ardis
(Bandcamp Melodic Revolution, 2023, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-07-11

Ardis Cover art

Early on, when Ten Jinn was playing at Baja Prog, Progday, and other festivals circa 1999-2001, it was easy to gauge their progress as a band with their regular releases and live appearances; their second album As on a Darkling Plain still stands as a milestone from that era. The Green Demo and an album Alone came out in 2003 following bandleader John Paul Strauss’ move to Sweden, though it went largely unnoticed, followed by a fifteen tear hiatus. Even though 2018’s Sisyphus was only 26 minutes of new music, presented twice, once with vocals and again as an instrumental. It was a surprising and promising return to form. Now the band presents Ardis, another concept album, this time inspired by Jack London’s futuristic novel, The Iron Heel, first published in 1908, warning of America’s descent into dictatorship and chaos in the 20th Century as described from the view of a 27th Century scholar. If you haven’t read it, worry not, the nine songs on Ardis each stand strong on their own, even if one doesn’t understand all the background and interconnections. On most of the album’s tracks, it’s the same crew that recorded As on a Darkling Plain so many years ago, with drummer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Mark Wickliffe assuming a larger role of the writing, production, and arranging throughout the album. Guitarist Michael Matier and keyboardist Matt Brown appear on nearly every track; multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and co-producer Ken Francis appears on several tracks, as does original bassist Matt Overholser. With Strauss handling most of the lead vocal duties, this version of the band comes off stronger than ever, full of power and incisive harmonies, with clever hooks, interesting arrangements and forceful solos. Even one-time The Jinn member Stan Whitaker (of Happy the Man) returns to add a blistering guitar solo to one track. Every piece on this album is memorable, and it probably needs to be said that Ardis stands as another milestone for the band, this time from the current era.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Stan Whitaker, Ten Jinn

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