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Woven Hand - Ten Stones CD (album) cover


Woven Hand


Prog Folk

3.57 | 21 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars It's been a long wait since Woven Hand's last full-fledged studio album: if I remember well, the superb Mosaic was from early 06, while Ten Stones is from late 08, which is a long wait for a confirmation. A confirmation that doesn't really come as the new album cannot match its predecessor's fantastic ambiance. Indeed, I don't think DEE (that David Eugene Edwards) even tried to match it, as the album is harder-rocking than most of WH had done before; indeed this could be a 16 Horsepower album of sorts (the line had become rather blurred in 01, when DEE stopped 16 HP in favour of WH), although TS fits the WH mould rather well. As usual, impossible to know who is playing what on each track, so we'll have to guess at the usual suspects Garrison (drums), McMahon (keys) and Van Laerhoven (bass & guitar) and on "strings" Elin Palmer (now Smith), but these are just guesses, looking at Mosaic. Added noises and guitars from the two engineers Smith and Nikolaissen.

The object comes in a superb and evocative digipak hinting at an old leather-covered sacred book holding the texts of his latest (yes ten of them) thoughts - let's not forget DEE is a twisted character prey to his constant religious torments, a heritage from his preacher father. The opening Beautiful Axe is a good example of how the album sounds: while remaining sonically typically WH, the music is less medieval-sounding (but still fairly folky), less poignant but rockier and more optimistic than Mosaic. Among the more interesting tracks is Kicking Birds, which is supposed to start on native chants, but sounds mostly like the Picts and Scots going to war on each other over bagpipes background.

The short Horsetail works on a descending riff and has droning cello in its closing moments and the great Not One Stone has a good violin, courtesy of Elin, and ... whatever. I'm not going to go through every track, just figure it out for yourselves. Some tracks are almost hard rock, like White Knuckle Grip, where DEE's tendency at sounding a bit like U2 at least once per album is evident. And once again, DEE is prone to making a big mistake in covering Quiet Nights, sounding pastiche to the usual crooner type material.

There is in fact an eleventh "hidden" dronal track, which aside the opener, happens to be my fave because it's definitely the most experimental. So Ten Stones, while a typical WH album, it fails to carry the sonic hopes (exploring more medieval soundscapes) born with Mosaics, but it is still a good album to fit next to the other DEE albums.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |


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