After thoroughly soaking in the new Tool album, 10,000 Days, I am ready to share my opinion with all of you, in order to rediscover communication.
The best word to describe my first listen was confused. I wasn’t able to grasp the lyrics and my superficial taking in of the music left me with a sour taste in my mouth and a desire for much, much more from the album as a whole.
However, after a second listen, I was able to hear and understand the lyrics, and fully (well for the most part) grasp the band’s intent for each song, which made me like the album even more.
Upon my third listen, I experienced a total “toolgasm” which is defined as:
toolgasm (n) /tool-gah-zum/
1. experiencing a sensation of euphoria as a result of something related to the band Tool
2. wetting one’s pants upon interacting with something tool related
I think both definitions can be applied in this case. To me, the album sounds like the offspring of the “Resolution Trilogy” (Disposition, Reflection and Triad).
The album opens with Vicarious, the 1st single off 10,000 Days. As an opening track, Vicarious bridges the gap between old and new, blending sounds reminiscent of Ænima and Lateralus with a new sound that is developed as the album progresses. The track reminded me thematically of Stinkfist, as it deals with television and entertainment, and stylistically of the Patient and Schism. The intro riff conjures up memories of the Patient’s intro riff and the intro bass riff sounds like one of the overdubbed riffs on Schism (at around 3:18).
The album takes a heavy turn with Jambi, which features some interesting guitarwork by Adam Jones, including a talkbox solo. The song has something to do with the province in Indonesia, which was divided in two halves (upper and lower river regions) after the Dutch East India Company entered Indonesia. The Dutch East India Company later rejoined the province in 1906 using brutal force. Overall, it’s not one of the stronger tracks on the album.
After Jambi’s aggression, the album drops dramatically to the most emotional Tool songs to date: Wings for Marie (Part 1) and 10,000 Days (Part 2). The Wings suite is dedicated to Maynard’s mother, Judith Marie Keenan, who was paralyzed for 10,000 days (27 years and some odd months) from the time Maynard was 11 up to 2003. Maynard’s sorrow and heartache echo on each note of the suite and coupled with Justin’s haunting bass, Danny’s subtle percussion, and Adam’s dark guitar forms a very mournful atmosphere, which moves even the coldest heart and makes even the strongest of listeners teary eyed. Wings climaxes with Maynard stating, “10,000 days in the fire is long enough, you’re going home”, which sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.
With the exception of Right in Two, the second half of the album is definitely much more drug related. The Pot, with Maynard’s helium-induced high pitched voice, and Rosetta Stoned, with it’s incoherent, super-fast rambling, are two of the funniest Tool tracks I have ever heard. Lyrics like “foot in mouth and head up asshole”, “you must have been so HIGH” (the Pot), “Sunkist, Sudafed, gyroscope, infrared” and “god damn, shit the bed” (Rosetta Stoned), provide a nice contrast to and lift the somber mood of the first half of the album. The second half of the album also consists of the albums three segue tracks, Lipan Conjuring, Lost Keys and Viginti Tres. Lipan Conjuring is one of my favorite Tool segue tracks. Something in the Lipan Apache chanting conjures up a feeling of spiritual elevation deep within my soul every time I listen to it. Lost Keys is a nice intro into Rosetta Stoned, and reminds me slightly of Message to Harry Manback.
The last two full songs on the album, Intension and Right in Two revisit the darker tone of the first half of the album. Intension is my least favorite track on the album. It reminds me a little of Disposition. Right in Two is the Paradise Lost of Tool. Written from a divine perspective (“angels on the sideline, puzzled and confused”), the song is a cry for peace and an end to war. Maynard’s spiritual lyrics coupled with Danny Carey’s inclusion of the tabla set makes Right in Two my second favorite track on the album behind the Wings suite.
Overall the album is a typical Tool masterpiece. However, it is not perfect. Maynard’s voice is not the voice we all remember from Lateralus. There is definitely a hint of A Perfect Circle lingering in his voice, most probably because of the personal nature of the album. However, in my eyes, that is no excuse for his inability to unleash his full potential. Another complaint is Adam Jones off the map guitar playing. At times, it sounds as if he is floating off in his own bubble, “10,000 days” away from Justin and Danny. In a way this may be a blessing in disguise, because Adam’s space-cadet guitar playing leads to a more dominant role in the bass department, and Justin’s bass is often found in the forefront, leading the melody and basically playing the role of guitarist. Danny Carey, as always, is spot on, providing the glue that holds this album together and makes it the work of art that it is.
A must have for every Tool fan, and for every newcomer to Tool: 9.5/10