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Tool - 10,000 Days CD (album) cover

10,000 DAYS

Tool

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.85 | 859 ratings

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crucify_the_ego
4 stars A lot of the 10,000 Days reviews are either written by die-hard fans or by metalheads who seem to think that Tool are still in the process of "selling out". I myself am not massively biased when it comes to Tool - I disliked the early work of Undertow and Opiate, liked some of the songs on Aenima, and embraced Lateralus as the masterpiece it indeed is. So I feel qualified to give a fair review to this new album, 10,000 Days.

To get it out of the way, the packaging for this album is simply superb. If we're taking the packaging into consideration, this album easily merits five stars. Artistic, innovative and still reasonably priced, the very case is a sight to behold. I won't spoil the surprise for those who haven't bought it, but browsing through the booklet inside is something completely different.

Onto the music. First track Vicarious is top-notch, as has come to be expected of Tool first tracks. Those who say it's too poppy have been immersed in the metal and prog scenes for too long - it's seven minutes long, and has a chorus, I consider those two qualities to be highly valuable in a world wheree the 20 minute epic reigns. The song is concise, well executed, and, while nothing completely fresh, is a quick hook into the album, before the real journey begins.

Jambi is a much heavier song, with an almost drone-like quality to it, a relentless assault. Less memorable than Vicarious, due to the lack of an obvious chorus, but a fine song nonetheless.

Wings for Marie and 10,000 Days are essentially two parts of the same epic. The highlight, and centrepiece of the album, this 17 minute duet of tracks should be enough to quell any claims that Tool have no innovation left in them. Very Eastern influenced (even more so than your average Tool song), the piece builds up slowly, with haunting vocals and effects, to a powerful combination of rain-sounds, beautiful harmonies and unusual guitarwork, before climbing down again. Listening to this masterwork is like hearing everything Tool have done smashed down, and rebuilt from the ground up.

Next song, The Pot, sees Maynard employing a new, much higher vocal style. This, combined with a well crafted song and a memorable chorus, results in another highlight.

Sadly, this is where the album leaves its conciseness behind, with TWO interlude tracks in a row. While they are good interludes, by Tool standards, and they offer some respite after the five-song onslaught previously, it would have been nice to have had just a lighter song, instead. Still, there's nothing wrong with the two tracks, and they clearly go some way towards whatever theme it is Tool have chosen for this particular album (I haven't really been listening to the lyrics).

The track after these is Roseta Stoned. Perhaps the heaviest song on the album, it's also great. With effects sometimes reminiscent of those used in the three song suite at the end of Lateralus, it also has some great rhythmic vocal lines, an unambitious, yet beautiful guitar solo, and fantastic drumming throughout. The interlocking rhythms of the vocals, drums and guitars are most prominent on this song, and they are wonderfully exotic.

Intension is another interlude (with a brilliantly funny hidden message inside, when played backwards), though one of outstanding beauty. Perhaps this interlude is especially important after the raging ferocity of Roseta Stoned. It has some odd Aphex-Twin style synthesised percussion, as well. There is indeed singing on this track, but it has a very mellow, unsonglike quality to it, which contributes to the interlude feel. Maybe a little too long, but still, easily the most enjoyable of the interludes.

Right In Two has a lovely clean guitar riff, combined with some unconventioanl percussion, and some classic Tool style vocals by Maynard (great lyrics, too, the only one's I've really listened to). This song is another with has that trademark Tool eastern-feel to it. This may be the most mainstream track on the album, aside from Vicarious. Slightly reminiscent to 46 +2, though not in a negative, derivative way. It also has a tremendous climax to it, wheneve the (realative) quiteness gets too great, a thunderous distrorted guitar leaps in for a headbanging chord sequence. There is some cyclonic bass and drum work in the song, faster than the riff to Schism. Generally a delight, and the last real "song" on the album.

Viginti Tres is the final track, and does basically the same task as Faaip de Oaid did on Lateralus - provides some closure to the album, in a typically Toolish and mystifying way. Nothing bad here, but nothing song-related, either.

Overall, the production of the album is fine. The vocals occasionally get buried beneath the might of the bass, and the pounding of the drums can get very prominent, but that is clearly how the band wanted it, and its nothing problematic, just unconventional.

The influence is undeniably Eastern, with eastern melodies, eastern rhythm, eastern percussion. The band uses the key of the song almost like a drone, to keep returning to, to end on - it is relentless, and can get wearing, if you're in the wrong mood. Another obvious influence is that of King Crimson, the darkness of the music and improvisational quality of the composition as a whole reflect that particular band. A reasonable medley of music to represent the sound of this album would be Larks' Tongues in Aspic-era Crimson, combined with Metallica, combined with traces of Floyd, with a bit of Santana in there too. however, basically, Tool are the only band who sound like Tool. This CD may not be of the same level as classics such as Dark Side, as Close to the Edge, maybe not even as Lateralus, but the music within is clever, dark, and undeniably progressive. For those prog-fans who can swallow distortion, this album is a required purchase. Otherwise, it still comes highly recommended.

crucify_the_ego | 4/5 |

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