During the summer of last year, the ever-growing Rise Records signed a band from California by the name of Ten After Two. The signing caught me by surprise; I had never heard of Ten After Two, and more than half of the band members are actually younger than me. I hadn’t heard any of their music, but I felt happy for them, as they had accomplished something that most teenagers can only dream of. I was excited for them, and had nothing but good things to say about them, until I heard their EP. Their debut EP for Rise Records was everything that had become hated in their music scene – one big conglomerate of breakdowns and cringe-worthy lyrics. I had lost hope that this would be a band that brought some young talent to the scene. When I found out that Ten After Two was releasing their full-length Truth Is…, I wasn’t too excited, but after some thinking I decided to give it a chance. In short Truth Is… is an improvement from their EP, but still falls flat due to its extreme lack of memorable tracks.
Truth Is… is one those albums that seems to be packed with with filler songs. The album is completely void of hooks and is filled with elementary lyrics and boring instrumentation. It is a record that could have been a solid debut if more thought and tweaking was put into the songs.
Both vocalists, singer/guitarist Josh Doty and screamer Sean Wall are extremely strong and would be able to carry the songs even with bland instrumentation (which is partly Producer Cameron Mizell’s fault, who is an expert at undermining guitarists and bass players). Songs such as “Well, Oh Well” start off promising, but fail to bring anything to the table that is able to keep the listener engaged.
At times Ten After Two loses direction and add several unnecessary elements to their songs, such as the keyboards in “Well, Oh Well,” the pop-punk style riff that begins “The Awe Song,” or even the Flight of the Bumblebee-like guitar sweep in “Sight At Sea” (trust me, I could not make that up). They also seem to have a hard time comprehending how transitions work; aside from the immense amount of drum roll transitions (Mizell’s specialty), the other few non drum-related transitions are awkward and poorly thought out.
One of the few pleasures that came out of this album was the absence of the idea that putting 6 breakdowns in a song is original. Most songs feature one breakdown if any at all, showing that Ten After Two has been more careful and strategic when it comes to the placing of breakdowns.
Unfortunately, some songs fall victim to the curse of the current trends, as “Satan’s Slumber Party” and “Dead After Dallas” follow the same generic formula that their EP did.
The main problem with this album is that, despite all the effort the band has put in to distance themselves from the “genericore” pack that they associated themselves with on their EP, Truth Is… severely lacks hooks. Ten After Two does not succeed in making even their choruses catchy or memorable. Even the few songs that provide the hooks, such as “Before You Know It” and “Truth Is,” are prime examples of a band sacrificing lyrical content for cheap hooks (“So bleed me dry and I’ll try to cover my past afflictions/ Cause you’re my new addiction.”)
Truth Is… is clearly a debut record. It portrays a band who is still young, and coming off the crippling identity crisis that appeared on their EP. Ten After Two is a very young band that has aimed to establish themselves as a band that is not falling into the “synthcore” or “crabcore” genre. Unfortunately, the lack of memorable tracks and unneeded instrumentation has made Truth Is… forgettable and sloppy. That’s not to say that they are not a band to watch, as in the coming years they could successfully grasp the concept that they were going for with this album, and create an album that could entertain those who are not particularly fond of the new breed of hardcore music that has been surfacing in the last few years. But as of now, Ten After Two is still just another band who is not gimmicky enough to be called generic, but not talented enough to be called the next big thing.