Sound — 7
Although some interviews indicated that the fourth studio album from Knoxville, Tennessee, band 10 Years would deliver heavier material than ever before, the latest material still is tailor-made for radio airplay. There are certainly moments where there might be aggressive, chugging guitars or the tempo taken up a notch, but for the most part Feeding The Wolves doesn't stray too far out of 10 Years' comfort zone. That's not to say that the quartet is lacking as far as writing a straightforward rock song goes. To the contrary, the record is jam-packed with likable, memorable choruses that often get stuck in your head immediately. One of the most striking aspects of Feeding The Wolves is the amazing depth you'll hear in the vocals. This is a trademark of producer Howard Benson, who was brought in to help out 10 Years with the latest album, and he doesn't disappoint. Vocalist Jesse Hasek delivers amazing harmonies on pretty much every chorus and that quality alone takes each of the 12 tracks to another level. Without that attention to detail in the studio and to the overall tracking, some of the songs might come across as a bit lackluster. The opener Shoot It Out certainly includes a memorable chorus, but it verges on being a bit spastic. Of course, you have to give kudos to the band for attempting to tweak the time signature a bit within the middle of the chorus (and then take it back again to the original time). It might scream original and inventive to some listeners out there, but it just seemed a bit too chaotic particularly with the repeated line, Shoot it, shoot it up, cause they want it, want it now, now. The Wicked Ones also utilizes some repeating lyrics, but its smoother approach musically is easier on the ears. 10 Years does a solid job at writing big, emotional ballads/mid-tempo tracks that crescendo. Because Hasek has such a wide vocal range, there are quite a few choruses that just explode as the song develops. Elsewhere, One More Day and I Blame You take a more stripped-down approach with only acoustic and vocals coloring a good part of the first sections. Fix Me could also be construed as a mellower offering, but it takes more of the power ballad route. That term isn't meant to discount the song at all, as it's one of the most powerful and heartfelt offerings on the CD.
Lyrics — 7
The topics are fairly broad on Feeding The Wolves, with the band delving into typical love talk to religious undertones. The bulk of the material revolves around relationships, and while there isn't anything too out of the ordinary, listeners should be able to relate to the songs. Whether Hasek is reminiscing about a past love in Don't Fight It (Memories stuck in my head; All the things I should have said; If I fall back into you; Don't fight it) or addressing naysayers in Fix Me (I'm fine in the fire; I feed on the friction; I'm right where I should be), there is a relatable quality to it all.
Overall Impression — 8
10 Years hasn't produced anything groundbreaking with Feeding The Wolves, but the record does have the accessible factor going for it. There are enough memorable choruses and catchy melodies that it should have plenty of viable singles. The band does deliver a few key standout moments, particularly Ryan Tater Johnson's wah solo in Waking Up The Ghost and the pseudo religious chants heard in Dead In The Water. While those tracks might be too out of the ordinary to get scooped up by radio stations, 10 Years deserves to explore territory that's a little dangerous or creatively fresh in the future.