November 5, 2010

30 in 30: 10 Years – Feeding The Wolves [84/100]

By Daniel

Notes: “Shoot It Out” starts out feeling much darker than their past releases, dissonance and repetition used effectively. Angrier lyrics and vocals have me quite intrigued if their sound has changed drastically. “The Wicked Ones” is downtempo rock in 4/4 that reminds me of Switchfoot more than anything, in a good way. Chorus is in double-time and pretty different from anything in their past works, and there’s a screaming aspect that wasn’t there in previous albums evident in the first two tracks. Not a bad track at all. “Now Is The Time (Ravenous)” has a more Division-esque sound than the last two, complete with betrayal theme and lyrics that are generously described as hit-and-miss. Good vocal arrangement though, interesting rhythms arranging the vocals in dotted 16th notes through the chorus. Solid melody improves the track, I’m admittedly a big fan of Division so the fact that I like this one isn’t surprising, take it with a grain of salt. Interesting to note they closed this one out with a scream too. “One More Day” has Jesse singing over clean electric and acoustic guitars, transitioning into another downtempo rock song. Interesting chord choices which they’ve done well for quite a while, with a well-done bridge, but the arrangement is far from a new one for 10 Years, I’m hoping to see some innovation in this aspect on the album, though it’s admittedly tough for a songwriter to rework the arrangement they get comfortable with. Ends with violins, interesting choice. “Fix Me” goes for a hook early with catchy melodic electric and bass guitar. This does sound quite a bit like the last track honestly. Bridge has slight tinges of electronica, then dropping everything but piano and vocals and picking back up with the works 4 bars later. Not great. “Chasing The Rapture” starts out higher up the fretboard, rhythm and vocals are immediately more engaging, they used a similar rhythm in “Drug Of Choice” on Division, this sounds like a mashup of a few of that and “All Your Lies”, but this one has character all his own, and there’s that screaming again. Arrangment’s still the same as it ever was. “Dead In The Water” has more of a traditional rock opening but transitions into some thing more typically 10 Years, clean reverb’ed electric guitar stings panned out wide over vocals and minimal instruments. This one does have a different feel in terms of rhythm, going from a frenetic chorus to a short half-time bridge. I admit that if I wasn’t a fan of them already I probably wouldn’t be much for that track. “Don’t Fight It” opens out sounding like it’ll be an acoustic guitar song and it is…for a good 45 seconds. Then it becomes a rock song that’s reminiscent of but not slavish to “Beautiful” from Division. Strings in the bridge are a nice touch, as is the vocals and kick drum section. Actually quite original, and unique on the album thus far. Solid. “Waking Up The Ghost” has a tricky thing going on the vocals, a slightly overdriven part in harmony giving it that dissonant sound we heard in “Shoot It Out”. This one has great attitude, especially in the choruses and vocoded guitar straight out of the Joe Walsh cookbook. (Good for them.) We’ve had a consistent theme throughout the album, religious themes especially exorcism, they’re doing a good job toeing the line. “Fade Into (The Ocean)” is clean electric guitar and vocals for 24 bars or so, bringing in the band in a track that I was enjoying just fine without them. Big floor drums and that 10 Years electric guitar set a great atmosphere for Jesse to sing on, and a rare guitar solo is giving this track tons of character. I’d swear I heard Sully from Godsmack in the background, or someone doing their best impression. The arrangement on this is really cool, and this is the innovation I wish they’d moved further up the track list, rather than right at the end of the album. More of a Tool sound which I think they were actively moving away from in the earlier tracks, even though they do quite an impressive copy job.Good way to close the album. Note: Bonus tracks are not graded. There are two solid acoustic covers on the deluxe edition that are worth a listen though, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Tone and Overall Sound: 16/20 Points. There is innovation in areas beyond the arrangement, their tone has changed rather drastically. Their sound is unique in rock right now, I get more of a Switchfoot or Skillet sound than I did earlier but that’s more to do with their choice of theme than the tracks themselves, I think.

Melody and Harmony: 16/20 Points. I didn’t hear much here that changed from their past works, but it’s still solid on both counts and I remind myself I’m grading not the album versus their past works, but versus the genre. In that regard they’re putting more effort into melody and vocal harmony than most.

Rhythmic Qualities: 16/20 Points. They do a great job of keeping the rhythm varied throughout the album, it’s nothing groundbreaking but they mix it up enough that they’ll get every bit of 16 points.

Mixing and Production: 16/20 Points. No real issues with post-production, but some issues with repetitions in the arrangement adversely affect the flow of the album. Good decisions throughout with regards to effects and supplementary intruments.

Theme and Concept: 10/10 Points. They chose to give this one a religious cast, and there’s a risk there of becoming offensive or pretentious, but they did a good job of balancing it out. Consistent overarching theme means full marks.

Presentation: 10/10 Points. While it’s quite different from their first two album covers, this one does a good job in preparing you for the rougher sound they aim for, and it’s really quite pretty. Glad to see a more direct connection in this album than previous ones.

Total: 84/100 points. Higher than I expected, honestly. There may be some issues with the rubric not giving enough weight to not mixing up the arrangement of songs, but I’m going to stick with the scoring method as-is for this project anyway. If you’re a fan of 10 Years, this one’s quite interesting to hear a sound that’s changing, but less drastically than from The Autumn Effect to Division. Their third album lets us know they’re not out of steam yet.

Scoring Method: [pdf]
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Sorry for being late in the day in getting this one up, the album for tomorrow is Eric Clapton’s “Clapton”. Give it a listen tonight, and be ready for my review earlier in the day tomorrow.