Review Summary: A flawless masterpiece that jumps and dives from heavy to soft whilst never dipping in quality as Eddie Vedder grunts and shrieks his way through some impacting lyrics.
Pearl Jam, one of the forerunners of the grunge movement as it arose from the ashes of the metal scene of the 1980's, are known for being a band of many talents. On their debut album, Ten, they lovingly constructed a canvas based around some rich and vibrant guitar work fueled by powerful and infectious riffs with some masterfully crafted guitar solos, before painting this canvas with splatters of vocal work that drips with emotion and a stellar performance from their drummer and their bassist. The resulting work of art was a release that knocked the wind from almost everyone with its amazing selection of tracks, and has stood the test of time as one of the best its genre produced, and remains the essential Pearl Jam album.
Once kicks the album off with some distant noise that fades into a heavy guitar riff that drives the song forward at a great pace. When the vocals first come in, many will be taken off their feet by the gruff growling style that Eddie Vedder uses for the majority of this release. From the extended notes he holds on Even Flow to the furious yelps on Why Go, Vedder puts in the performance of a life time that somehow maintains a large amount of emotion during both the heavier sections and the slower sections. Occasionally, such as in Jeremy, Vedder takes a more restrained, melodic approach to singing and he shows himself to be a master at both style, providing a marvelous voice for his occasionally-depressing lyrical content. Songs on this release tackle subjects such as a fatherless upbringing, a girl in an asylum and other socially aware topics that show an intelligence unmatched by many of their peers.
The instrumentals that back Vedder are absolutely flawless across the board. From the top-of-the-line guitar solos to the off-kilter track listing of the album, there is nothing about this album that could be faulted. The overwhelming atmosphere on Alive when it dips into a more mellow segment around two thirds of the way through is a guaranteed pleaser, whilst the second half of the release is not devoid of surprises either. One thing about this release that sets it on another level entirely is the sheer consistency. Not once on Ten is there a single moment in which it dips in quality. The guitar riffs are heavy as hell throughout much of it, whilst softer tracks like Black keep everything flowing nicely. The drumming is not the most technically proficient in the music industry but never fails to be interesting, and the rumbling of the bass is audible and absolutely perfectly fitting for such a release.
Ten is an album of such magnitude that few could ever hope to topple it. This remains an album that is essential for fans of every kind of music. The emotion and soul behind the vocals is one of the focal points, whilst the melodic and interesting guitar solos on tracks like Even Flow carry it instrumentally as well. Ten is one album in a million, often emulated but never exceeded, with some magnificent tracks and some of the best lyrics out there, and is sure to please.