Review by Christian Huey
The Big One Is Coming is quintessential Ten Hands. Perhaps the most rhythm-intensive of all of Ten Hands’ albums, The Big One employs thundering bongos syncopated with Earl Harvin’s busy drumming, as well as a liberal use of chimes, rhythm sticks, and other noisemakers. It’s the rhythm section that gives the record its dense, groove-oriented appeal, somewhat similar to Talking Heads’ Remain in Light-era work. But it’s Paul Slavens’ cathartic vocals and dissenting politics that bring real charisma to the recording. He’s growling more in this live setting; he’s snarling and twangy. True, he reigns in his vocals occasionally, as on the transcendent “Pray for Rain,” but Slavens leaves no doubt on the record there’s something sticking in his craw. Global warming, sexually unhinged ministers, and Reagan-era materialism make up a few of Slavens’ grievances. But the band can’t resist an honest love song, and “You Are My Fix” fills the void nicely. Then there’s the weirdness. It’s hard to tell what, if anything, is meant within “Pancho Villa” and the high-school-biology-lesson-as-thrashcore-number “Ameoba.” Chaos within order fits in well with Ten Hands’ usual thematic style, though, and The Big One Is Coming is where they really deliver their statement of purpose.