ten56. are one of the best new bands of 2021. Yet their true strength lies in how they authentically address real issues with their low-tuned, crushing new-age metalcore, all free from shock factor.
PC: Mathilde Miossec. CW: suicide, domestic abuse.
France’s ten56. are one of the slickest, heaviest new groups of 2021 to make some waves, off the back of just two terrific self-produced singles: April’s ‘Diazepam‘ and June’s ‘Boy.’ Lead by vocalist Aaron Matts – former frontman of Betraying The Martyrs – this band has been built up over the course of a decade by Aaron, now featuring Novelists FR bassist Nicolas Delestrade (who is also Out Of Line Music’s A&R, whom ten56. distribute through), as well as drummer Arnaud Verrier of Uneven Structure, Earth Trip guitarist Luka Garotin, and Kadinja guitarist Quentin Godet. Since going live earlier this year, ten56. have made a splash. I normally don’t care much for mentioning streaming numbers when it comes to how I talk about bands, but credit to ten56. in racking up over 170K+ streams (at the time of writing) on these two singles thus far. Quite the achievement.
ten56.’s songwriting has all the groove-focused hits, massively down-tuned guitars, sub explosions, crowd-killing breakdowns, and filthy screams that many other new-age metalcore bands implement. Yet what separates them from the carbon copies is how this Paris group express raw, earnest sentiments in their works. It’s moshing with a therapeutic purpose. Aaron commented on this when the band first launched, that their songs’ “…true meanings are there to be found inside the lyrics, and given the nature of the subject matters I don’t feel super comfortable going too deeply into the gritty details.” So far, their music has been a vehicle for dealing with deep trauma. Not to be edgy or for shock value, but to try to make peace with those thoughts and memories. To let others know they aren’t alone if they’ve gone through similar shit. That’s the best thing about heavy music when it stands for something.
Aaron once said, perhaps in equal parts honesty and sarcasm, that “therapists are expensive, hence the birth of ten56..” You can see that all-in approach from the word go with their debut single. ‘Diazepam‘ carries a serious health angle, mental and physical, as it lyrically discusses the impacts of certain illnesses and diazepam use – previously better known as Valium – to treat or help battle a variety of issues. It’s a downright brutal metalcore track musically, matched with a brutal lyrical topic: the unseen effects of depression, anxiety and suicide ideation upon the mind. About feeling like you want a way out but are unable to follow through; about that inner struggle to live and cope. Hard-hitting, telling lines like “Don’t count no sheep, I count the milligrams it takes to numb my brain” from the intro, or “Can’t bring myself to hurt my mother, I just wanna top myself” from the bridge further reinforce this no-bullshit theme.
The noisy attitudes of this song’s weight-lifting breakdowns and the high-pitched ringing heard in the last section, in conjunction with the bone-rattling low-end coming from the guitars and bass, puts the listener in that defeated headspace. In under three minutes, ten56.’s debut single leaves its mark as an extremely exhausting song. Uncomfortable even. But that’s the point: to drag such dark experiences out into the burning eye of the public to raise awareness and address them. Calling this bands music ‘cathartic’ doesn’t seem to do them justice with how confronting everything is. Same can be said of ‘Boy.’
‘Boy‘ is somehow heavier, darker and more intense than its sibling. Glitchy sounds and dissonant guitars fire off like synapses fizzling out, and the track infuses electronics, synths and bass-boosted, lower pitch-shifted deadpan rapping at the end (a popular new trend in heavy music like this of late) to strong effect. These elements feel like solid additions to the grim, heavy-as-fuck arrangements that ten56. deal their hands in, as opposed to coming off as merely corny experimentations of a band not knowing what the hell they’re doing. And I like seeing such heavy core bands such as these guys dabbling in other sounds and genres. Hopefully, this thought process continues with whatever comes next from these French lads.
One of the most chilling lines in ‘Boy‘ hits halfway through when Aaron screams “And you can blame everything on a mental disorder. But you know deep down that this was fucking murder.” When you compare this to a later lyric – “I watched the roof burn down in the family home. You poured the gas, you lit the match, now you’re fucking alone” (a metaphor about the piece of shit who inspired ‘Boy‘ making their own bed following the destruction they’ve caused) – it’s obvious this comes from a deep-seated personal place for the frontman when he was a child. The horror-movie knife FX that’s heard at various points only adds to the bleak landscape of what this track is addressing: cruel abuse and domestic violence. That the person who did this will be forever haunted by what they’ve done; kept up at night by “…the screams of our stillborn son.” Jesus fucking Christ. Aaron even laces the track’s conclusion with a threat to this person that he knows what they did: “Pray to God I keep my lips sealed quietly.”
‘Boy‘ is the kind of nerve-wracking, blood-chilling song that you feel unnerved to even discuss or pry into. Even when talking about it in a music review article like this. I feel the same way about this song as I do Alexis Marshall’s ‘Hounds In The Abyss.’ But I haven’t seen any proper analysis of what ten56. are actually talking about with ‘Boy‘ and their debut – a pair of songs that come from a TBA album the band will have coming out in the future. I hope that this gives you a clearer view of what this band is about.
If you dig Aaron’s vocals (and he does have a gnarly voice, as heard in this uncut one-shot), you can also hear him notably guesting on LANDMVRKS’s ‘Reckoning‘ track from a few years ago: