20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
It's about time....,
This review is from: 10,000 Days (Audio CD)
Hmm, how to start. Well, I think this is Tool's best album. Opinions like this always change, of course, so who knows how long it'll last, but after listening to this fairly continually for a week and a half, and then finally getting to hear the full sound quality version a couple of times there's no question as to how I feel now. Plenty of people are disappointed, but hey, they always are. Admittedly, though this certainly isn't devoid of innovation, it unquestionably isn't as much of a step forward and new direction as were `Lateralus' and `Aenima'. Personally, I think this is a good thing, as I don't know how much further Tool can go without abandoning their basic style altogether, and I don't want that. As much as I liked `Lateralus' I distinctly recall being a bit worried after it was released, thinking that maybe they'd go too far and start releasing things like the `Reflection' cycle exclusively. Now, I like that song cycle a lot, but I don't want them to abandon the alt-metal roots altogether, and they haven't done that with `10,000 Days'. This is really sort of a culmination of their sound thus far, combining elements from all their previous albums. Hell, it's even got the occasional direct reference to earlier albums. (Yeah, this kinda thing could be annoying if it were taken to far, but, uh, it isn't here.)
The production here is pristine and heavy, and the players are all in top form navigating the long song structure and numerous unusual times signatures quite readily. No, they ain't flashy virtuosos, well, except for Carrey, but they know they're instruments, and each have an immediately recognizable style. I'm also pleased to say that Maynard's vox have come more to the forefront again, and he's allowed to display a bit more venom more frequently. `10,000 Days' has 3 shorter, more conventionally metallic tracks, `Vicarious', `Jambi' and `The Pot'. Each of them is excellent. You must've heard `Vicarious', and it's a good example of the combining effect of the album, mixing `Lateralus' style droning with some more rough, relatively D'Amour-esque basswork from Chancellor and off-kilter but still relatively straightforward, bruising riffwork that comes off as a mix of `Undertow' and `Lateralus'. Damn fine drumming and a memorable chorus to boot. Great song. `Jambi' is one of the more unexpected tracks, loud but very smooth and flowing with deceptively simple and repetitive guitarwork. This song really displays Tool's taste for subtle rhythmic dynamics, as it moves from liquid, polyrhythmic riffs to straight-up pounding and back. Great vocals from Maynard too, particularly the `Damn my eyes' part. (Well, there's some debate as to what he's saying, but whatever.) `The Pot' is another rather unexpected track which definitely recalls Tool's earlier days, albeit while still being a bit more sophisticated. A surprisingly funky and just flat-out fun track with tons of groove and some of Chancellor's best basswork ever.
Then we've got the more epic things. `Wings For Marie' and `10,000 Days' are, of course, one 17+ minute composition, so I'll just consider them as one. This will be a controversial song I'm sure, and no doubt those who thought that `Lateralus' got boring will think this gets dull too. Certainly, this is just about the slowest, moodiest thing they've ever done, little more than rumbling bass, whispered vox and distant, low-key guitar for amost all of the first 10 or so minutes, and it never quite explodes as much as you might think. Still, I think it's a great, emotional song effectively combining the airy, spacy sound of `Lateralus' epics with the darker, sludgier feel of some `Aenima' tracks. Again, the 10 minute buildup is pretty long, but that makes the more intense part of the song all the more effective. I especially like the ghostly, choral vocals that pop-up at times, and I think the lyrics are, as a whole, fairly touching. `Rosetta Stoned' (which combines with `Lost Keys', a fairly pointless intro), will doubtless also be pretty controversial. It's a weird one, substantially derived from `Third Eye' but turned into a more riff-driven rocker, albeit a very long one. Tons of time changes here and wildly varied vocals. It's also kinda fun to hear Tool write a less serious song again, considering how humorless and pretentious so many Tool fans are. Not the very best song here, but I do enjoy it a lot.
`10,000 Days' biggest problem is that it saves the weakest tracks for last, `Intension' and `Right in Two'. It's also somewhat disappointing to end with these tracks, as they're the ones that are most particularly like a specific earlier album i.e. these two songs would fit on `Lateralus' very nicely. Still, these are good songs, so you can't complain too much, and you know an album is good when the biggest criticism you can come up with is the track order. (And, in reality, I think the progression of sounds actually works pretty well, it's just a problem that the quality drops a bit.) `Intension' is another quiet, melodic track, kinda like `Disposition' and the like. It arguably goes on a bit too long at 7 minutes, but it's got some pleasant, ethereal melody and some fun electronic drum work. `Right in Two' is another epic track, opening slowly with gentle vocal melodies and some light instrumental work, though it certainly picks things up later. Again, very much like `Lateralus', particularly in that it's loud but not angry, but, well, `Lateralus' was a great album, so I can't whine too much. Again, a very good song, if still one of the weaker ones on the album.
Yeah, I'm done. I find it difficult to imagine that this will not be at the very top of the list of best albums of `06 when the end of the year comes around. Get it.