The Autumn Effect is one of the more unlikely forms of modern rock albums – one that’s quality as well as commercially successful. Led by the massive single “Wasteland” (which was on rock radio for years, and is still a staple), “Through The Iris”, and “Waking Up”, vocalist Jesse Hasek and the rest of 10 Years had a big hit on their hands. Eventually going Gold, the record blended in well with bands like Chevelle and A Perfect Circle, who at the time were experiencing their own commercial success.
10 Years forged their own trail, though, to be certain. With introspective lyrics that explored topics like substance abuse and the inner machinations of our collective minds (they’re an enigma), there’s a specific focus honed in on atmosphere more than any kind of technical musicianship. That’s not to say the individual members of 10 Years on this album weren’t particularly gifted. Guitarists Ryan Johnson and Matt Wantland excel at providing mood-based guitar tones and effects, which get pushed to the forefront on relatively heavier tracks like “Prey” and “Through The Iris”. Meanwhile, acoustic-led, moodier passages like “Seasons To Cycles” let vocalist Jesse Hasek collect the main focus. His voice is particularly electrifying, knowing when to explode in a powerful climax (stop laughing), and also when to draw back in a more measured response to the music.
Jesse Hasek is front and center on The Autumn Effect, though, undoubtedly. Even on tracks like “Cast It Out”, where the drummer and bassist both play interesting, tribal-esque patterns, his talent helps the band excel. You also can’t discuss this album without mentioning smash hit single “Wasteland”, the first video of which features the late actor Brad Renfro (also Jesse Hasek’s cousin). An easy choice for the song that would launch their nascent career, the song is one of those that could mean different things to different people – but could very well be about drug addiction and overcoming it.
The Autumn Effect probably performs best when there’s a balance between heavier, alt-metal sections, and Jesse Hasek’s ability to provide huge melodies. That’s most of the album, really, but “Half Life” is a great example of this. Too melodic to be menacing, the guitar work might make you think otherwise. Just wait until the explosive ending, it’s one that basically any alternative metal band of the era would kill to write. There’s also an interesting transition between the heavier ending of “Empires” that segues into “Prey”, a contender for the best song on the album.
The Autumn Effect is one of the more interesting rock albums of the new millennium. Finding a nice balance between incisive alternative metal riffs and big melodies, it helped launch the career of 10 Years. Interestingly, the band would explore more of their melodic tendencies on 2008’s Division, which pushed their songwriting in different directions.
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