1. Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“The music of Tenth Planet is best described as melodic alternative rock. All vain attempts at pigeon-holing aside, this Toronto-based band's individual influences are vastly diverse and combine in way that must be heard to be fathomed. Free of the shackles of genre though joyously bound to the strictures of classic song-writing, Tenth Planet creates globally accessible music bursting with intensity, passion and unique sound in a tradition set forth by such classification-defying bands as U2, Alice in Chains and Radiohead. Setting Tenth Planet apart from even these powerhouse acts is their fully consistent delivery of sweetly violent and technically thrilling guitar rock fused with fierce melodies and universal stories of aching ferocity.”
2. Why did they make this album? What was the passion or message that forced them to produce what they have? Or, simply what was their motivation for the themes they chose for this album?
This is their third album and this time they wanted to gain the full production support of one of Toronto’s most successful artists, Jeff Martin, the leader and founder of Canada’s Tea Party. Jeff helped with their last album The Prophet Curse. But this time he takes full production credit and helped write and perform some of the songs on the album.
As a Tea Party fan, Jeff’s involvement with this project generated my interest in this project.
3. What message are they delivering through their lyrics and music?
See Yourself – Powerful grinding guitar and pounding drums open the first single from the album. Literally a reason to buy the whole album right here in one song, but there is more to enjoy. This is just incredible. Powerful lyrics from Ouellette, sung with passion and emotion. “When you decide to sleep there’s no waking you.” “They see right through you.” “Don’t you know yourself?” “Can we find another way to see yourself?” This one sounds like LZ’s Kashmir pumped up a few notches in volume and intensity. Unfortunately it’s over in a short 2:56.
Lose Your Mind – The pounding and driving guitars and drums have just begun! “To clear your head.” “You know you got to lose your mind!” Yeah it definitely has that effect. The scream in the middle is just awesome! This song may actually be better than the first! Such power and intensity that I haven’t heard since….Tea Party or maybe Pull Me Under from Dream Theater. Another fantastic track on an album full of gems.
Dissolution Meditation – Wow, after the first two power rippers, you need a slow opening. So let the lead vocalist take over. Perfect effect. The lyrics and the way Ouellette delivers them are so powerful, reminding me of the greatness of Jeff Martin’s Tea Party debut, however with much more power behind him. Sounds a little like Tea Party’s The River. “And we pass like nature and we fall like nature, forward backward, always...” “At the heart of time, everything’s eternal and everything is nothing.” This guy can yell, but with feeling and emotion instead of irritation.
Man in Full – Another slow beginning with bass and piano. But then drums and vocals take over. The ballad on the first section of the album. “And if you see a woman and you love her as your equal.” “She will make you whole.” “Join with her and save yourself.” Powerful lyrics combined with beautiful melodic music. “If you see that world, as a place that is to be feared, you’ll diminish and you’ll be lost in the midst of time.”
Even If You Are Still Alive – Lone guitar starts this one until the blitz of full guitars and drums take over. Such a cool effect. Ouellette delivers a powerful verse, “I think I wish I’d made some better choices but I can’t unlock the past.” How Ouellette retains melody while delivering these lyrics by nearly yelling is incredible. Beautiful piano ends this one.
Carbery – This one starts out with lone guitar and a riff that so reminds me of the beginning of Silent Lucidity from Queensryche. Keyboards come in to create a beautiful dreamscape similar to some of the songs on Tea Party’s first album. Only it is over too quickly. Just 1:21, but I could have listened to this for hours.
Little Nation – Another power track and one of my favorite songs on the album. “You crossed boarders skipping town.” “I wish you were kinder to your heart.” The delivery of these and other lines in this song are just so cool. “I wish you wouldn’t play this part.” The guitar and drum power in this and all of the songs on this album help make it one of my favorites of 2008.
Weighed Down – Lead vocals delivered without yelling surprises you and provides the variety, while displaying the versatility and the pop side of the band.
Into Empire – Guitar riff starts this off. “Last straws don’t bend they just break you.” More power back with solid guitar and drums, but this one falls short of the rest of the album. Maybe one song too many. I like full albums, but this one could have been left off as an extra track for diehard fans. They already have allot of fantastic songs on this album. Some of the guitar riffs and licks are good, but it just doesn’t hold up to the power of the rest of the album.
Drafty – Good soft guitar to start off the second ballad of the album. Again a great display of the band’s ability and versatility. A song written for family. “Yeah it’s all right….’ “Cause I know what’s important.” “Not these nations not these lines.” “Only us.” Wonderful song about comforting and overcoming fears.
Line in the Sand – Co-written by Jeff Martin, this is another one of the strongest songs on the album. Starts off with an awesome acoustic guitar. The riff sounds familiar but the lyrics add their own originality. “So what did you do when they sold you a truth and they took you by the hand?” Despite the quite delivery it is one of the most powerful songs on the album. Tracing the steps to war. The child with a toy gun concealing it from his mother and then growing up to face the decision to fight for a line in the sand. Certainly a reaction to the Iraq War. “Will you lie for; will you die for a line in the sand?” “When all lines fade.” The lyrics are just incredible. One of the best anti – war songs I have heard in a while.
Balcony – That beautiful Hammond organ that so many bands have been bringing back lately. Just adds such a perfect quieting effect to a very difficult love gone badly song. “I’m tired of your balcony.” “You have disappeared behind unfocussed light.” “I am left out here alone wanting to join the stars.” The power and emotion behind the delivery electrifies this final closing song.
Ah, but there is more. Beautiful slow piano at the ends welcomes an almost Tears for Fears piano piece. Just love this interlude with no name. Hope they start the next album off with this. It’s wonderful.
4. Does this music improve, change, or add to the genre? What does the listener receive from listening to the music?
One of the best albums of 2008 for me, only I didn’t find out about it until 2009. In hindsight, having listened to some of the latest heavy prog albums to come out this year, this one adds more innovation and variety than anything I have heard so far.
The songs truly are different than anything else that is out, while at the same time providing reminders to the best of the genre.
This listener has found a new band to follow and appreciate. I can’t wait to see what they do next. I hope they keep working with Jeff Martin, because he helped produce an excellent album.
More than discover new ground, this brings back to Canada, a Tea Party level band that has the power and ability to fill the void left by their departure.
5. Does it have longevity? Is it something a fan will like to play again and again?
Absolutely. Three months after finding it I am still listening to it at least three times a week. It satisfies the search for a Tea Party replacement and provides enough variety and power to more than fill the need for heavy prog rock.
Rating: 9/10 – Must leave room for improvement, but this group has produced a diamond and is now definitely on my radar!
Reviewed by Prof on July 10th, 2009