10 Years' 'Minus the Machine' review: Gloomy rock
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If 10 Years had formed 10 years earlier, in 1992 instead of 2002, the band could have joined the transition from gloomy alt-rock to gloomy mainstream metal, played Ozzfest with Deftones and Godsmack, and sold millions of records. Instead, today, the band's high-pitched Jesse Hasek vocals, "are we destined to see a tragedy / look away, the crash is coming" lyrics and guitars that crank from acoustic strumming to apocalyptic power chords have added up to only minor hits, like 2010's No. 12 album "Feeding the Wolves."
Like those late-'90s bands, 10 Years hews to a formula -- from the catchy chorus of "Dancing With the Dead" (close your eyes, you can probably imagine it) to the shrieking "wake up!" crescendo of "Knives." The softer songs are more interesting and more effectively show off 10 Years' growing competence in a recording studio -- "Forever Fields (Sowing Season)" is based not on guitars but a recurring little piano riff that recalls "The Downward Spiral"-era Nine Inch Nails. The acoustic "Writing on the Walls" nicely showcases the range of Hasek's falsetto, and "Birth-Death" builds drama with violins.
"Minus the Machine" is a reference to the band's escape from major record label Universal Music after many years. (The new album arrives via the band's own Palehorse Records, with distribution help from another major label, Warner.) The title implies liberation, or at least a few steps sideways, but nothing here has the ring of revolution.
"Minus the Machine"
BOTTOM LINE Not-bad gloomy rock, but band misses an opportunity to stretch