10 Years’ third album was almost destined to disappoint in some fashion after their phenomenal masterpiece The Autumn Effect, but the rock band from Knoxville, Tennessee, still managed to produce a quality entry in their discography with Division, a moody and brooding followup to their atmospheric sophomore album. Division definitely lies in the same dark and contemplative vein that characterized The Autumn Effect, but fails to deliver as many standout tracks or transcendent moments in comparison. Instead of immediately capturing a listener’s attention with swelling tempo and striking vocals as before, 10 Years’ third album settles for a few big moments because of a slower and more consistent tempo. Make no mistake, 10 Years did not fail or completely alter their sound on this album. But after an ethereal sophomore effort, Division comes up just a little short.
“Beautiful” is the band’s most-played song off the album, even though it’s definitely not its best. “Beautiful” is a quality addition to the album and its theme and message are certainly poignant and unique, but the delivery is a little too run-of-the-mill to make anything spectacular. The song’s haunting melody and sing-a-long chorus probably explains its appeal, but doesn’t leave much room for the emotion of the lyrics to shine through and never escalates into anything truly special in comparison with the band’s best work.
Speaking of 10 Years’ best work, “Dying Youth” is by far the best song on Division, which would explain the fact that this song would have fit in perfectly anywhere on The Autumn Effect. “Dying Young” features the rising and falling of tempo and energy that set their sophomore album apart and showed how dynamic that changing and flowing tempo can be. Hasek’s dramatic vocals dominate the chorus with escalating wails that never seem to fail to rise to the occasion and capture the urgent and desperate feel of the song. And in contrast with a few other selections on the album, Hasek’s pitch stays in relatively friendly territory while still being able to express emotion, as opposed to a few tracks where the vocals get a little too high for comfort. This song also displays the band’s knack for using drumming to set an ominous tone that crescendos into the chorus.
The slow acoustic fade-outs that fans loved in The Autumn Effect are still present with the group’s third album, as tame guitars help the tracks transition smoothly into one another and help set a darker and united tone for the album as a whole. One particularly chilling moment comes at the end of “Picture Perfect (In Your Eyes),” where that same reflective guitar, accompanied by the haunting voice of a woman who repeats an unnerving warning until the voices overlap as the guitar picks up speed and intensity. This superb closer leads perfectly into the epic “All Your Lies,” a moody and swelling rock anthem characterized by killer guitar riffs and pounding drums that give the sense of the impending tragedy so perfectly articulated by the song’s acute lyrics and Hasek’s sublime vocals. The rising and falling of momentum found in The Autumn Effect is largely missing in Division, but when this masterful style makes an appearance the audience is left with the album’s best work. This is contrasted with its upbeat and uncharacteristically upbeat beginning, the fast-paced opener “Actions & Motives” in particular. For the majority of the time, Division favors a slower pace that but never really delves into ballad territory until “So Long, Good-bye” and the excellent closer “Proud Of You,” which finishes things off on a beautifully melancholy note. The album’s final track is simple enough with just piano and Hasek to wrap things up, but the piano is elegantly and sad and meshes with Hasek’s eerily soothing melody to create one of the finest ballads in 10 Years’ repertoire.
Division comes nowhere near eclipsing The Autumn Effect or matching the potential this band has for the future, but it is an enjoyable and moody entry in 10 Years’ discography that helps establish their style of music. Fans will certainly be able to tell that this is 10 Years and see the similarities between their two middle albums, but there’s no question that Division was a slight step backward for the band. However, this talented rock group managed to maintain their identity and stayed true to their sound in the process, paving the way for the different but improved Feeding The Wolves in 2010. Their darker and heavier spin on rock music without actually resorting to screamo or hardcore rock sets them apart and fans of Evans Blue, 32 Leaves, Chevelle, Cold and Tool will certainly find themselves right at home with this album and the majority of 10 Years’ discography. Division is certainly worth giving an extended listen and would be a fine accomplishment for other bands, but considering the past mastery of this group, its hard to not fault 10 Years’ third album for not matching up to The Autumn Effect.
Final Score: 7.7/10
Rank: 4th (five total albums)
- Actions & Motives
- Just Can’t Win
- 11:oo A.M. (Daydreamer)
- Dying Youth
- Russian Roulette
- Drug Of Choice
- Picture Perfect (In Your Eyes)
- All Your Lies
- So Long, Good-bye
- Proud Of You