Review Summary: Not much is nu, but another enjoyable album reliant on its highlights.
Over the course of their 10 years recording albums, Knoxville outfit 10 Years have somehow remained on the correct side of the alt-metal/post-grunge divide. By incorporating heavier, more atmospheric traits into their sound, the now quartet (following the departure of guitarist Matt Wantland) have managed to stay out of the much derided mainstream rock grouping which the likes of Nickelback and Creed spearhead. On their strong previous offering ‘Division’, the band rode a fine line of sinking into the abyss with the likes of lead single ‘Beautiful’, follow-up ‘So Long, Goodbye’ and closer ‘Proud of You’ being extremely literal and destined for radio airplay. So when 10 Years named Howard Benson as the producer of their fifth LP ‘Feeding the Wolves’, loyal fans had to wonder if the man who had helmed the latest albums of Three Days Grace, Hoobastank, Skillet, Daughtry, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus & Creed, would be responsible for their downfall.
More quizzical looks followed when lead single ‘Shoot It Out’ preceded the LP by some 10 weeks. The album opener has a decided bent to the even more ridiculed genre of Nu-Metal, with its menacing low-key verses building up to its shout-along chorus. Isolated, the track works for what it is, while anyone would be hard-pressed to say it was not catchy. As has been seen with even the best of the nu-metal pack however, there seems to be an expansive disparity between the best and worst the genre has to offer. That is unfortunately proven here with the likes of ‘The Wicked Ones’, ‘Now is the Time (Ravenous)’ and ‘Chasing the Rapture’ all being dragged down by the kind of gimmicky, dated, angst-ridden components that fuel Limp Bizkit’s fire for a comeback. When lead vocalist Jesse Hasek mentioned that ‘Feeding the Wolves’ would be their most “aggressive” release since their debut, this was surely not what fans had expected.
Thankfully (and remarkably), 10 Years once more find that knack of not imploding, since none of the weaker (including the aforementioned) tracks are outright garbage, just not particularly distinctive. Additionally, the latter half of ‘Feeding the Wolves’ is much more consistent and offers up a better sample of what 10 Years does best. The thumping drums of ‘Dead in the Water’ and the energetic, multi-layered ‘Waking Up the Ghost’ are both deceptively hooky, while the memorable chorus of ‘Fix Me’ could well be the most infectious song of the band’s career! At the opposite ends of the spectrum, strings infused ballad ‘Don’t Fight It’ and six minute closer ‘Fade Into (The Ocean)’ are also successful. The former is sure to be polarizing with its melodic catchiness destined to be over-played on radio, while the latter is the track which most resembles the effective moody dynamics and song structures of the band’s best work on ‘The Autumn Effect’ (including some belated ear-catching guitar-work from Ryan Johnson).
It is difficult to imagine that too many people are initially going to be impressed by ‘Feeding the Wolves’… Back loaded albums tend to take a little longer to grow on listeners and this is no exception. Furthermore, there is no significant growth or change in sound which is likely to reel in new fans… Jesse Hasek’s vocals are as strong and melodic as ever, while the band ably do their job without being let off the leash often enough. So, in effect, 10 Years are preaching to the converted here, and to that end they have released what is ultimately another enjoyable album, if a step down from their previous two LP’s. Is that sufficient for a band now entering their second decade together? That will be up to the individual listener, but it is fair to state that the quality of the highlights evident on ‘Feeding the Wolves’ means that most will wish that 10 Years continue delivering the goods for another 10 years.
Recommended Tracks: Fix Me, Don’t Fight It, Fade Into (The Ocean) & Shoot It Out.