10 Years - From Birth To Burial

It’s hard to find a band these days that so definitely have their respected place in a genre, yet create music with their own sound making it hard to place a label on it. For alternative rock, one such example is 10 Years. Ever since 2002, Jesse Hasek and co. have been releasing powerful and heavy songs on each and every release. Perhaps one of their most commercially successful releases (at least based on its day-of-release), 10 Years delivered another album that’s definitely a force to be reckoned with in their discography.

Haven’t done one of these in awhile, so here’s a track-by-track review (for those tl;dr peeps, there’s a wrap-up paragraph at the end instead if you’d prefer):

1) From Birth To Burial - Starting off ominously with nothing but an effected guitar, piano, and Hasek’s vocals, you can tell from the get go that you’re in for something big. The song picks up with a punchy distorted guitar and drum with Hasek delivering a fast-paced verse reminiscent of Enter Shikari. Then, the huge riff kicks in. The massive chorus, “We’re dying in stereo! / From birth to burial!” demands your attention, and the massive instrumental keeps your heart racing and head bobbing. Not to mention, the songwriting is top notch, as to be expected with 10 Years. A triumphant and perfect way to start this album. 10/10

2) Selling Skeletons - Opening up atmospherically before exploding into an in-your-face riff, Selling Skeletons is very reminiscent of the band’s “Minus The Machine” era. The bridge of the song sees Hasek desperately growling some high notes, with his voice slightly breaking adding to the intensity of the track (similarly to Linkin Park’s Keys To The Kingdom). The short orchestral refrain before the final chorus provides an intimate moment with the listener before one last burst of energy from the song. 8/10

3) Vertigo - This song is perhaps the most “average” track on the album. There’s nothing really special about it; but don’t get me wrong, it’s a great song. The chorus has some great guitars and the lo-fi drum intro is a bit of a refresher, but it sounds like as typical of a 10 Years song as others. The lyrics are alright, relating to the confusion and spinning to the battle that is love. A bit of an average track, but a good track nonetheless. 7/10

4) Triggers and Tripwires - BRING ON THE HEAVY! 10 Years brings in some djent/post-hardcore vibes in this one. This song is essentially three minutes of brooding riffs, angry verses and screaming. The bridge/outro is one of the most badass riffs I’ve heard all year. There’s truly not much more to say about this track, it does everything it does heavy and amazingly. 10/10

5) Luna - From the way the track opens, you can tell it’ll be a bit different. 10 Years channels its inner Chino Moreno here. Bringing some melodically pleasing vocals here in both the verses and choruses, Hasek showcases his clean vocals on this one. Guitars are kept to a minimum here - it seems this was Hasek’s track to take full lead of with his voice. This song could easily be a Palms track with its lovely layering, the verses even have a Crosses vibe. Beautiful track. 9/10

6) Crimson Kiss - Aaaaannnnndddd straight back into the riffs! This song borders progressive metal at its core. Opening with some tortured screaming, you immediately know you’re back in the brute force of this album. The layered screams in the chorus reminds me of letlive. or Arcane Roots, in the best way possible. Something about those words, “Killer creator / Blow me away / I am the loaded gun” feels like something to scream to the sky when you’re mad (akin to “Is this who you are? / Some sweet violent urge / A weak fallen man / With the promise of an end!” from Thirty Seconds To Mars’ Fallen) The brutal screaming to end this track wraps up the whole headbanging extravaganza in this track. 10/10

7) The River - Nothing like a heavy, relentless track to tell you about religious and political injustices of our society. It follows the story of a citizen forced to do the work of those with power, and being confused on what path he can follow, whether it be religious, political, or monetary. The bridge of the track is perhaps the best wrap up of this idea: “Chaos comes from the cross / Monetary masquerade / Religious rat race / Do or die and down the drain / Fight or flight parade.” If the lyrics aren’t good enough for you, the chorus riff is essentially a continuation of the outro riff of Triggers and Tripwires - how could you not jam to it? 9/10

8) Ashes - Bringing back the piano! Admittedly, I find the first verse a little strange - not that it’s bad, but something just doesn’t sit well with me in regards to it. Perhaps the “embryo” and “down the rabbit hole” combo for some reason? Regardless, the bass and guitar do a lovely pairing of notes together (it’s also nice to hear the bass brought up). The guitar sound shares resemblance to a dulcimer in the section after the second verse (really, it could’ve been taken right out of Botanist’s “VI: Flora”!). Another pretty characteristic song for 10 Years - the chorus especially. 7/10

9) Survivors? - Channeling Chino Moreno again, are we? Perhaps taken a more focused rock influence on Crosses with this one. This track is very ocean-oriented thematically. The narrator searching for survivors on the vast ocean (a metaphor for the impossible game of love, likely). A very simple, yet captivating song. 7.5/10

10) Miscellanea - Ah, yes. The lead single of the album revitalizes the energy for the end of the album once more, immediately kicking off with that massive riff. Hasek sings really high in this one, his voice cracking as a result. In my opinion, much like in Selling Skeletons, this adds to the desperate, visceral nature of the song. The piano interlude just before the second chorus provides a short reprieve, right as the madness kicks back again. Then, back to piano after the bridge ends! And this time, it beautiful segues into the final track of the album. 10/10

11) Moisture Residue - When I first listened to this song, it gave me chills. The piano is beautiful if somewhat repetitive, and Hasek’s wonderful vocal performance here lends itself hand in hand for the track. The song builds up into spiraling symphonics and closes out the album in a haunting fashion, almost as if the whole story hasn’t come full circle left. As if something is left to be continued. 10/10

10 Years has had a history of releasing powerful and memorable albums with each effort. This hasn’t stopped here. “From Birth To Burial” stands as a powerful force in their discography, perhaps not at the top but definitely not near the bottom in terms of ranking. In it is everything you’d expect from 10 Years and more. They bring out their influences, try new methods of expressing themselves musically, and even exploring some uncharted territory in terms of sonic growth. One of the strongest releases this year, by far.

Favorite Tracks: From Birth To Burial, Triggers and Tripwires, Crimson Kiss, Miscellanea, Moisture Residue

Least Favorite Tracks: Vertigo, Ashes

Overall Rating: 9/10

My Current Top 10 Albums of 2014:

  1. Fall Out Boy - American Beauty/American Psycho
  2. 10 Years - From Birth To Burial
  3. Halestorm - Into The Wild Life
  4. Darlia - Petals
  5. Zs - Xe
  6. Joey Bada$$ - B4.DA.$$
  7. Periphery - Juggernaut: Alpha
  8. Liturgy - The Ark Work
  9. Purity Ring - Another Eternity
  10. Lightning Bolt - Fantasy Empire