Sound: 10 Years have released their latest album, "Minus The Machine" and it doesn't disappoint. It does contain predictable song structures and is much like "Feeding The Wolves" album, which was something I was surprised to see. 10 Years made sure to pride themselves in disconnecting from their label, stating that it was essentially like being stuck in a bad relationship that they knew had to end. This album is released under their own label instead.
01. "Minus The Machine" - the album opens up like a big present on Christmas, nothing is holding it back. "Minus The Machine" title track is the first song, but I was pretty surprised, this isn't raw music without electronics, which would reflect a simple meaning to the title, but instead allows you to understand that there is a deeper meaning behind the word "Machine".
02. "Battle Lust" - the second song which has a very familiar layering with vocal delay in this song during the chorus. This song is a poppy short song. It isn't bad, but it is something that will get old fast. If you can stay hooked on the catchy chorus you can easily overplay this song.
03. "Forever Fields" - next up, and this is one of my favorite songs on the album. The lyrics "From the birds eye view, God only knew", helps you understand what this album is really about. We see that this is a political/religious album, taking a "corrupt world" look at things. With a mix of clean piano, flanger on the vocals and a slight radio mic effect on the verse this song is hauntingly hits you like a bright light in the dark.
04. "Backlash" - the follow up song to "Forever Fields". This song uses a mix of digital drums and real ones which is done tastefully but again this is very poppy. Much better than Battle Lust though, with a meaning that's worth listening to a few times. Please note that a lot of places have the lyrics to this song wrong, and he sings "Hung by your self righteous hands" pre-chorus. The bridge is nothing special, something I think really lacks from a lot of 10 Year songs, is the lack of good solos/bridges. They are all very safe, and not something most people go back to listen to. Instead most of us will listen to the song for the song as a whole, instead of a single part of it.
05. "Writing On The Walls" - has a stylish subtle intro that's an ear catcher right away, taking a digital distortion and slowly removing it on the guitar, transitioning the tone from distorted to clean from the last song. The piano also makes another appearance here. This song is about us learning from our mistakes in the past and how we just seem to be repeating mistakes. Overall another great song, and 10 Years shows that they can excel at slow, emotional songs while rocking the power of a modern rock song as well.
06. "Dancing With The Dead" - one of the best songs on this album. This song really reaches back to the core of 10 Years and incorporates the scream harmony from "Killing All That Holds You" and applying it in the pre-chorus. Something that was really pleasing to hear. It subtle, so make sure to turn your speakers up a bit, but you shouldn't be listening to this album at anything below max volume. Catchy chorus with some enough subtle vocal movements to really earn it's place.
07. "Sleeper" - a filler, but it does it's job just fine. Although the bass line intro was different, it lacked movement and character, and sounded too simple. The guitar steals the attention away immediately, which is a disappointment. It would be nice for the bassist to stand out on this song. Vocals are somewhat repetitive at this point from previous songs, although the drum outro leaves you with a good aftertaste.
08. "Soma" - it aggravates me. This song had a lot of potential, and is pleasant. However, the bridge, again 10 Years weakness, is all about the vocals. Jesse Hasek has great vocals, and great is an understatement, but his vocal line at the bridge was much more fitting as an instrumental. My ears needed something different. A fan of 10 Years will enjoy this song, but if you're trying to get someone hooked on them, pass along to something else.
09. "Tightrope" - it is what I've been waiting for. This song is layered. When I first heard this song, I didn't know what to expect. The intro reminds me of "11:00 AM" off of "Division", with the same type of noise to shallow opening and then adding layers after. This song becomes thick quick, turning from water to milk, with an emotional ambient and piano part setting your emotions and mind wandering. The guitar is actually something I really enjoy here. The guitar even gets his own little part in the bridge which is something I was just complaining about. This song saves the dive that this album was starting to take. I feel like vocals could have been a bit richer, at some parts his voice is too piercing for the style, but it didn't ruin the song for me.
10. "Knives" - track ten is "Knives", also taking the screaming harmony from their older style. The chorus is weaker on this song. With a chugging guitar that attempts to keep beat in a rather lackluster manner. Bass at 2:35 with the vocals was icing. Jesse Hasek screams here, letting the harmony scream vocals take the reigns of the slay pulling the song through the bridge to the outro. The song had it's moments but, it didn't do much for me.
11. "Birth -- Death" - the intro to the last song. A violin drives this song with elegance. Not much can go wrong here, and not much does. It's short, a bit too short for my taste. There was a lot of room here to do something with this, even if it was just to extend the song for a few minutes to savor.
12. "...And All The Other Colors" - it is a very segmented song. We needed more of these songs and less fillers. This song has a unique vibration of progression. When 10 Years moves away from basic song structures they really shine. Vocals are soothing and the vibrato on Jesse Hasek's voice during the chorus is soothingly creepy. The bridge contains a segment of rare TV footage during a study of LSD in the 1950s. Psychiatrist Sidney Cohen is interviewing a certifiably "stable and well-balanced" woman, the wife of an employee at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Los Angeles (where the research was conducted), before and after she has taken a 100-microgram hit. The exact quote is "I can see everything in color. You have to see the air. You can't believe it... I've never seen such infinite beauty in my life... Everything is so beautiful and lovely and alive... This is reality... I wish I could talk in Technicolor... I can't tell you about it. If you can't see it, then you'll just never know it. I feel sorry for you". 10 Years breaks this quote up a bit for the bridge to fit, however, it's still a powerful message. Sent a personal chill down my spine. It's tactful that 10 Years create a beautiful song for LSD instead of a chaotic mess. Excellent song to end on, and completes the story told here. // 8
Lyrics: Jesse Hasek's lyrics are cliche for the sake of rhyming at times. Besides that, the lyrics still are powerful, and they are brought to life by Hasek's voice. I will say that the amount of effects used is close to the breaking point if not already overboard. Some are extremely unnecessary and take away from the song rather than add to it. // 7
Overall Impression: 10 Years has been consistently solid. I enjoy the political/religious/spiritual stances they make in this album without picking a side and going all in. Open minded and eager for potential from the listeners. They do an excellent job using the music as a message while people can still enjoy the music as vibrations alone if that's how they so choose. I enjoyed this album, and anyone into modern rock should give this a listen. If you are a fan of 10 Years go buy this album, it wont disappoint. // 8