Yes…I had an unhealthy obsession with the Deftones back in the early 2000s, didn’t you? White Pony is probably the main reason my Discman kicked the bucket after only a couple of years of service. (iPods weren’t far off anyhow, so no big deal.) The Ten Year Program – The Ten Year Program has got me reliving that unhealthy obsession, as their debut self-titled EP (released October 26th, 2018) screams of Deftones influence.
Before we jump into the music, does that cover art bother anyone else? I kinda hate it and want to punch that smug top-hat-wearing bloke in the face…maybe there’s a deeper issue I need to look into here personally, tell me if I’m wrong!
The Ten Year Program is a collaboration between Ian Richards (credited with music, arrangement, engineering and mastering) and Jack McCracken (vocals), both of whom are songwriters, working together for the first time. While the music itself draws heavily from that Deftones alt-metal, emo, post-hardcore sound, McCracken’s vocals sound nothing like Chino Moreno’s; he’s vocally more akin to a traditional sounding emo singer…take your pick. It’s not a bad thing by any means! McCracken has solid vocal chops, it’s just very generic.
“A Double Shot for One” and “A Drop on the Tip of Your Tongue” display The Ten Year Program’s affinity for slick studio production and brooding and sultry content. Although I’m not a huge fan of the way the drums were worked into the mix, for the most part these tracks were put together skilfully, with nothing over the top and plenty of space for each instrument to breathe.
“Ambien Wet Dreams” is the standout track on the EP. McCracken delivers his most heartfelt vocals on this one and makes it seem effortless. There is a lot going on in this song, and yet nothing really feels out of place and no one component is overdone, a really hard feat to accomplish and a testament to Richards’ in-studio ability. The burning question now is, can The Ten Year Program translate that into a solid live sound and performance?
The Ten Year Program is a solid debut and the only pitfall may be a slight lacking of originality, which is not uncommon at all for new projects. They wear their influences on their sleeves, which is fine, but I hope to see some strides towards stepping outside of that box a little, taking chances, and hitting a few unpredictable notes. So yeah, if you get your kicks off of bands like Deftones, Glassjaw, and other groups that hit that little sweet spot between alternative and emo, The Ten Year Program will hit you right.
Written by Lee Ferguson
*edited by Kate Erickson