After managing to secure a copy of 10,000 days and sequestering myself from civilization with several packets of cigarettes and a bottle of whisky for the weekend I have the following to say:
I never like a Tool album the first listen I give it. Listening to a Tool album is like buying a pair of Docs or an itchy wool jacket and having to wear them in and then once that’s done they become like a second skin. I never listen to a new Tool album, I have to learn it.
And this album is no exception. Kabir at Toolshed.down.net put it well when he said “It’s not the album you were expecting, but it’s the album you were waiting for” or something to that effect. I’m not going to review all songs, but a snapshot;
I heard Vicarious before I got the rest of the tracks and I was a bit disappointed to start with. The intro sounds almost identical to ‘The Patient’ but with distortion and the outro sounds kinda like the “Schism” outro where the riff heats up and Danny doubles the bass-kicks. But it has grown on me and it holds the start of that whole thing I am going to call the Meshuggah effect. It’s also evident from the lyrics of Vicarious that, as Maynard has stated in a lot of the press leading up, they’re all pissed off a bit and that he’s tired of trying to teach people to enlighten themselves and put himself out on a limb. So already I find in this song the emotion is rawer, more evident and less cryptic than other Tool lyrics.Into Jambi and I am freaking floored man. That opening riff is mean and just nothing like what I expected. It’s the Meshuggah effect times 1000 (Uhuh – you know what that means) and then Danny kicks in with his nice melodic drumming and Justin picks up the thread and you’re almost on safe ‘Yes this is the Tool I know and love’ ground again, before it picks you up and flings you against the wall. This is another paradigm shift, and a good one. Even if you loathe it the first time you hear it, stick with it cos it’s awesome.
Wings for Marie and 10,000 days are indescribably beautiful and passionate. It’s basically like Reflection, but so much more personal and it just makes it so much better. The whole plethora of sound this band is able to conjure is amazing and well evidenced in this track. I’m guessing it’s about Maynard’s mother (see ‘Judith’ by APC). The Pot is out there as well. Completely different and yet completely the same. Later tracks are quite experimental. “Lost Keys/Rosetta Stoned” is like the anti-”Parabol/Parabola” and is quite fun and different as has been reviewed elsewhere.
The first time I heard this album I was quite surprised as Adam is way at the front and Danny a lot quieter and I am always hooked on what Danny is doing, but it works – it really does work. The same with Maynard, I have heard the comment that he is not as strong a singer, but I would say that he still has his strength there, and he’s no slouch in this album, he still cranks those notes out, but he’s mixed further back in the sound and in between as well. You just gotta listen.
And I think that’s the commonality that ties the whole album together for me. The guitar is more prevalent, the topics less cryptic and more accessible, there is more humour and more hooky melodies, but the challenge is still there from Tool to listen and absorb and think for yourself.