Over the last two decades Knoxville, Tennessee’s 10 Years have quietly been one of the most consistent bands in Hard Rock. In fact, since breaking into the mainstream with 2005’s The Autumn Effect, 10 Years has attained one highly charted album after another. Now, 2 and a half years after the release of 2017’s majorly successful (how to live) AS GHOSTS, the band are set to return with Violent Allies on Friday, September 18, 2020 via Mascot Records.
Their ninth overall studio album, interestingly enough, 2015’s From Birth to Burial was allegedly going to be the final effort from 10 years. Fortunately, the band was in some ways reborn when Guitarist Matt Wantland returned to the fold in 2016. Just in time for the recording of (how to live) AS GHOSTS, it marked Wantland’s first studio recording a part of 10 Years since 2008’s Division. Inspiring to the core of 10 Years, the re-teaming of Jesse Hasek (vocals), Brian Vodinh (guitar/drums), along with Wantland, leads us to present day where they came together ocne again to write and record Violent Allies. Additionally reconnecting with famed Producer Howard Benson for the first time since 2010’s Feeding the Wolves, Violent Allies comes with very high exceptions.
Not afraid of the task at hand, 10 Years immediately struck listeners hard with the hit single “The Shift,” released well in advance of Violent Allies back on May 15th. Coming at a perfect time, when the world is in shambles due to a pandemic, “The Shift” describes humanity as a virus that has no remedy. Something to think about, amazingly the song was written in 2019 prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. One hell of a single, it has already well surpassed over a half million streams and is the fitting introduction to the album; hence why it is also the lead track.
Following such an epic start, “The Unknown” choices a different path, as the keys taking the lead, opposed to 10 Years signature heavy guitars. Meanwhile, “Déjà Vu” goes back to the origins of 10 Years with distorted guitars and slamming drums. A heavy cut, on a more interesting note, Hasek surprises with some powerful screams on lines such as, “Turn off my brain, this all feels the same.”
Speaking of intrigue, 10 Years has never shied away progression and trying new things. That said, you cannot help but notice that they revisit their past on this album and cherry pick some of the best aspects of it. For example, there are moments that hark back to 2012’s Minus the Machine with the placement of musical interludes as heard on “Planets III” and “Planets IV.” Strategically landing at track 7 and 11, first, “Planets III” emerges with soft keys and acoustic instrumentation before erupting into “Sleep in the Fire.” Meanwhile, “Planets IV” offers an eerie, but space-like sound that weave right into “Start Again.”
All a soundscape that connect an underlined theme, we are at last led into the finale, “Say Goodbye.” Arguably the most emotional of all the titles on the album, it serves as a farewell to Hasek’s late grandfather. More down tempo than the other tracks heard here, it is lyrical intensity which stands strong. Not abnormal, 10 Years has always focused on is making their music and lyrics connectable with their fans, and this conclusion is no different.
While 10 Years has drastically grown as musicians, they have also grown together, and it truly shows on Violent Allies. As always Jesse Hasek’s emotional vocals draw you in to feel the lyrics deeply. This is all while the music compliments his voice and the context of his message flawlessly. Some might say 10 Years’ music has changed, but in truth, this is still the same band many fell in love with fifteen years ago. Sometimes it is not just about the music, but is about the people that create it, and the relationships established. That is why it is clear to see 10 Years have accomplished some of their best work to date with Violent Allies. That is why Cryptic Rock give this album 5 out of 5 stars.