Knoxville, TN, alt-metal act 10 Years made their major-label debut with 2005's The Autumn Effect, an utterly ordinary effort much beholden to the likes of Tool and Staind, and the album nonetheless scored a big radio hit with the single "Wasteland." Reportedly recorded in a fractious intra-band environment (hence the title), Division sounds like the work of a band that carefully and thoroughly deconstructed its previous hit and attempted to replicate it several more times for the follow-up. Division is a smooth, radio-friendly record with the debut's aggressive tendencies almost entirely sanded off in favor of new producer Rick Parashar's glossy layers of instruments and vocals. Even potentially powerful quiet-to-loud rockers like "Russian Roulette" and "11 AM (Daydreamer)" feel over-manicured and far too polite, singer Jesse Hasek's vocals losing their emotive power in the overall listlessness. Even worse, hints that the bandmembers now consider themselves "artists" occasionally rear their ugly heads: the coda of "Picture Perfect (In Your Eyes)" is nearly as long as the body of the song itself, and even worse, it features a spoken word poem read by one of the album's female backing vocalists. (Simply that the album has female backing vocalists in the first place is a warning sign for this brand of alt-metal -- call it "November Rain" syndrome -- but really, a poem? Why not just call the guy from the Moody Blues? He can't be busy.) It may well have the intended effect of prolonging the band's chart life temporarily, but Division sounds if anything like the exact opposite of artistic maturation.
by Stewart Mason