Knoxville’s own 10 Years progresses with ‘Minus the Machine’

Jack H. Evans

Knoxville’s musical resume has blossomed rapidly in recent years. Bands including Whitechapel, The Dirty Guv’nahs, Place of Skulls, and The Black Cadillacs have received regional, national, and even international acclaim. K-town has also produced members of Weezer, Moon Taxi, and the Everybodyfields, among others, as well as a slew of fantastic bands that still play on a local scale. But who’s missing from that list? 10 Years have jumped from being local kids caught up in the modern rock swell of the late 90s/early 00sto touring with Deftones, Chevelle, Sevendust and Hatebreed and becoming one of the most nationally recognized alt-metal acts of the last decade. They should probably be on there. As it would so happen, 10 Years’ latest effort, Minus the Machine dropped last week on their own independent Palehorse Records label, and while it’s nothing groundbreaking (modern rock records rarely are), it’s certainly worth noting as one of the more entertaining, listenable, and progressive releases within its genre. That’s right – progressive ;not a term you hear thrown around with mainstream rock a lot. Nevertheless, 10Years have integrated a hint of prog rock (don’t worry die-hards: the emphasis is still very much on “rock”) into their sound on Minus the Machine . Just notice the breakdowns on “Sleeper” and“Knives,” Brian Vodinh’s furious jazz-metal drumming on lead single “Backlash,” and, most obviously, the dark, almost harrowing piano “ballad” “Forever Fields”– all of which turn out to be some of the album’s standout tracks. But more often than not, the album sticks to its roots,bearing more similarity to other alt-metal superstars like Sevendust, Mudvayne and (earlier) Deftones. That’s not a bad thing, though – 10 Years seem to be able to do what Chevelle has been failing at for 15 or so years: make radio-playable, venue-packing modern rock while at the same time not being mind-numbingly boring. What’s more, each of the members is at least competent a this instrument(s), another rarity in modern radio-rock. Guitarists Ryan “Tater”Johnson and Vodinh (yes, he also plays guitar) express their ability in well-crafted, rhythmically odd riffs rather than shredding solos. Vodinh’s drumming isn’t just the 90s/nu-metal rehash that so much current drummers dish out; instead, he integrates jazz, prog, hardcore, and even electronic (“…AndAll the Other Colors,” perhaps) influences into his beats. Bassist Lewis “Big Lew” Crosby is no Flea or Dan Briggs, but that doesn’t mean his bass doesn’t sufficiently anchor the album’s 12 tracks. What will first strike the average listener, though, is Jesse Hasek’s vocal delivery. While he’s no golden god behind the mic, his distinctive clean vocals are a lot better than those of many in the modern rock scene (see: Chad Kroeger). Unfortunately, one of the album’s weaker points lies in the lyrics. Lines like “Take me all the way to the end/Show me how you want it to end/Keep dancing with the dead” and “Hung by your self-righteous hands,get ready to meet your maker” skirt the much-scuffed line between meaningful and trite. Really, though, Minus the Machine ’s biggest drawback is its genre. As they say, there is nothing new under the sun, and that certainly includes alt-metal. Nevertheless, Knoxville’s favorite modern rockers have progressed significantly, and in doing so have produced one of their field’s better albums of the last few years. Overall rating: 7.5 Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; line-height:115%; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;} Jack H. Evans is the entertainment editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter@BeardenBARK and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.