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Gary Hughes - Once And Future King - Part I CD (album) cover


Gary Hughes

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4 stars The first word that comes to mind when thinking about these albums is... AWESOME! "Once and Future King" is a great blend of AOR and neoclassical/symphonic/power metal. Part I and II together form a fascinating tale told through an epic musical journey. Part I - A truly excellent melodic rock epic! Part II - An excellent follow-up to Part I "Believe enough to fight" contains very strong performances by both Bob CATLEY as Merlin and EDENBRIDGE siren Sabine EDELSBACHER as Nimue in a wonderful duet.

Gary HUGHES certainly deserves credit for tackling a very ambitious project and putting his heart and soul into each of its 22 songs. My respect for making me enjoy 107 minutes of music.

Report this review (#26458)
Posted Tuesday, December 30, 2003 | Review Permalink
5 stars I Love This Album!!! Once and Future King, Pt. 1 - Gary Hughes

Yes, I love this album. I've had it about three weeks now and I listen to it at least once a day. Even my teenage daughter sorta likes it. Shes says it's not as weird as the other music I have and sometimes force her to listen to in the car. The music actually varies from song to song with most of the songs falling in the melodic progressive rock category.

Once and Future King is a Rock Opera, loosely based upon T.H.White's classic King Arthur novel of the same name. This rock opera is the creation of Gary Hughes, the lead vocalist of the British AOR group TEN. O.F.K.,however, is strictly Hughes' baby, consisting of two separate and separately sold CDs, Part 1 and Part 2. I have Part 2 as well and it is also good but I prefer Part 1.

After composing this masterpiece, Hughes, who has been a guest vocalist on at least one Arjen Anthony Lucassen's* own rock opera's, borrowed a page from the master and enlisted Arjen and several other very talented guest musicians for his own rock opera.

*For those not familiar with Lucassen, he is the creator and genius behind numerous concept albums including Ambeon, Ayreon and Star One. Additionally, he has been a valued guest musician on numerous projects in addition to this album, having worked with Lana Lane, Erik Norlander, Rocket Scientists, Within Temptation and Glass Hammer.


Gary Hughes.............King Arthur Lana Lane...............Queen Guinevere Danny Vaughn............Lancelot Bob Catley..............Merlin Irene Jansen............Morgana Sean Harris.............Sir Galahad Damien Wilson, sings "Excalibur" (The Prologue)


"Excalibur", "Upon a pagan land in darkness came, A black and heartless spawn of seed, A cruel and wretched plague, For the mists of time a king lay slain ",

Basically an intro, starting out with a piano and bell solo with background thunder and choir reminiscent of a sound track, leading into a very accessible medium fast paced, melodic prog rock number with very catchy chorus. Excellent singing by Damien Wilson.

"Shapeshifter", "The perfect spell you could not resist, I cast it well, beguiled and bewitched, The evening fell and knocked like before, But this time Hell had come to your door,"

This is a great, great song in a mainstream rock vein, reminiscent of Garbage a bluesy number with just excellent vampy, singing by Irene Jansen and great backing vocals by the cast. Who is this chick? Well, I checked and she is the sister of Floor Jansen (After Forever). No wonder she's so good, Floor's arguably the best singer in the Galaxy.

"King for a Day" "True Gods, they sleep, Locked in their mountain of dreams, They wait for the call, for the hunger, Thry must be freed,"

This is slow rock song, almost a ballad, almost a waltz, a truly wonderful composition, beautifully sung by Bob Catley of Magnum. My respect for Gary Hughes is growing and growing.

"In Flames" "The time has come, There's no other way now, This Crime is done, It tore what remained of our reason, "

Another marvelous song, a medium paced, somewhat anthemic, ordered, marching style, rock number, with Bob Catley again lending his superlative style on the vocals. Great percussion and guitar.


Conclusion, there's only one conclusion. The music is wonderful and easy to listen to, the musicians are top notch and the singers are emotional and captivating so, buy, buy, buy, buy. And this one's not that hard to find for a change, so buy, buy, buy, buy!!!

Report this review (#26459)
Posted Tuesday, June 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I don't know how many times the legend and myths of King Arthur or someone from his entourage were used as subject for a concept album, but I sure can't count it on one hand. This rock opera is, as you could guess, also based on this story. The whole story has been divided on 2 CD's. The first part will be available on August 25th and part two on October 6th. I already received both promos, so I can give you an overview.

"Once and future king" is a rock opera that completely answers all the expectations you get when you hear the word 'rock opera", including the cast. The big names of the participants make sure that this CD will not pass unseen to the public. But the quality of this album is very high, so you have more than one reason to buy this CD's.

I've always been a passionate fan of concept albums with the necessary theatrical bombast, heroic epics and nice ballads with a guitar solo as climax. And this album has it all. All melodies and choruses are pleasant to hear and can be sung along after a few times. A short overview: "Excalibur" opens part one as a movie soundtrack with some keyboards from rock opera specialist Arjen Lucassen, better known as Ayreon or Star One. It changes into a rock track sung by Damian Wilson. "Dragon Island Cathedral" is a rock song by Gary Hughes as Arthur. Very beautiful keyboards. The first semi-rock ballad "At The End Of The Day" is one of the highlights of the CD. Both vocalists Gary Hughes (as Arthur) and Lana Lane (as Guinevere) take this song to unknown heights. A very strong track with ditto guitar solo and community singing. Danny Vaughan (Tyketto) is Lancelot on "The Reason Why" and "Avalon", which both have a catchy melody line. Irene Jansen (Karma) as Morgana makes it clear that a woman can stick up for herself on "Shapeshifter". "King For A Day" is carried by medieval keyboards and the grotesque "In Flames" with Bob Catley (Magnum) as Merlin are both tracks that stay in your head. There's a wonderful organ sound on "Sinner" with Sean Harris (Diamond Head) as Galahad. Part One closes with 'Lies", a track with a lot of driving power and Gary Hughes as Arthur.

see part 2

Report this review (#26460)
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars I'm really asking myself what such "schnulzy" wannabe "Metal" records are doing on a site like this. Rock or Metal opera is fine, it can be okay, when it's done with high quality. But not like this. It's even for an AOR album a quite mediocre one. The phrase "Oh baby I'm still loving you" can be heard often enough, one has just to switch on the radio. Sorry, I respect the effort of the musicians, that's why I give even 2 stars, although I don't think it's worth. This is just absolutely not the type of metal opera I need. The same applies BTW as well for part 2 !
Report this review (#26461)
Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
3 stars Well, some people might be wondering what such AOR/Melodic Rock artist is doing here. And that was my first impression too. But if you take the word Progressive in its origin (i.e., going beyond one genreŽs boundaries), then Once And Future King, parts I & II, are in the right site. Or did you ever heard of an AOR/Melodic Rock opera? True, Hughes had already showed his knack to write fine, little prog influenced, epics with his band Ten. He even released a futurist concept album with that group (Babylon, 2000). But this project is far more ambitious and successful.

Backed by excellent musicians (including all members of Ten) and a cast of some of the finest singers around, he recorded both parts during the year of 2002. The theme is far from original since so many bands and artists have recorded songs or albums telling the same classic story of King Arthur (Rick Wakeman always come to mind in this case), but still he does a great work - and quite revolutionary in terms of AOR, both musically and lyrically. YouŽll find fine songs on it, all very well crafted and arranged, with some great performances of all involved. here are elements of hard rock, heavy metal, power ballads, symphonic rock, classical passages and the like.

Highlights for me are the opener Excalibur (Damion Wilson in a heartfelt, storming performance), Dragon Island Cathedral (great instrumental parts and backing vocals) and King For A Day (fine symphonic arrangement and emotional choir), but the album as a whole works very well. All of course is helped by the wonderful songwriting skills of Mr. Hughes, who also does a great job at the production field. Some may say everything here is too clean and perfect, but I guess this is a matter of taste. I like the state-of-art way he applies on his records.

If PA was an AOR site this would be a five star record. Since it is not, I guess a 3 star rating would be more fitting: good but not really essential. An extra half star for the quality and boldness of the project. 3,5 stars.

Report this review (#185124)
Posted Thursday, October 9, 2008 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars The myths and legends of King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table

The King Arthur legend must surely be one of the most common themes for conceptual albums in all of Rock. Rick Wakeman's The Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table from 1975 and Kayak's Merlin from 1981 (which is much better than the re-recorded version from 2003) are two well-known and successful examples from the progressive Rock world. Here is yet another one by Gary Hughes.

I'm normally not a fan of Rock Operas, but this is actually a rather good one. Hughes enlists a wide range of instrumentalists and vocalists including Damian Wilson, Lana Lane, Bob Catley, and (Mr. Rock Opera himself) Arjen Lucassen. Wilson, Lane, and Catley hand in first-rate vocal performances and so does Hughes himself. The material they are given to sing was written by Hughes and is generally of a high quality. My #1 favourite song here is the opener Excalibur (sung by Wilson). This one will appeal to Threshold fans. At The End Of The Day and King For A Day are two other good songs, but there is really only one embarrassment here in Sinner which is uncomfortably similar to Queen's I Want It All.

Nothing here will take the progressive Rock or Metal fan by storm, but it is certainly a well made album of its kind. It will not challenge anyone's conceptions, but it will live up to the expectations.

Report this review (#802938)
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2012 | Review Permalink

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