Antipating and waiting for a new Tool release usually is at least a three to five year journey, as the band has been around some 14 years with only a handful of albums to their credit. After 2001's excellent and highly progressive offering Lateralus, the band took a few years off but finally went back in the studio to create this latest offering 10,000 Days. This new one is a dark, dense, rhythmic feast for the ears, containing 11 songs, most exceeding 6 minutes in length. Although there are some heavy and intense numbers, like the kick ass opening 1-2 punch of "Vicarious" and "Jambi", both blistering and pulsating examples of intricate metal with complex rhythms, searing vocals, and crunchy guitar work, much of the album features long musical passages, moody soundscapes, and atmospheric journey's into psychedelic terrain. Apparently Tool's tour with King Crimson a few years back must have had some impact on them, as 10,000 Days is easily the most progressive and psychedelic album they have ever released. This might annoy their fans who just want to hear them play their brand of savage and intricate metal, but on the whole this new album is a pretty sophisticated affair and extremely adventurous.
The moody and intoxicating "Wings For Marie (Pt. 1)" follows the two opening and intense rockers. Maynard James Keenan is all over this place with his unique and mystical vocal style while the rest of the band creates some serious drama, as the song fluctuates from a calm and serene landscape to the eventual storm. Speaking of the storm, "10,000 Days (Wings Pt. 2)" features the eventual thunder and rain (yes, I'm talking real storm sounds here) along with Keenan's passionate vocals, emotional guitar layerings from Adam Jones, and some almost tribal -like percussion. Yes, it's quite mellow, almost ambient at times, but it works. The band kicks it up a notch on the boiling "The Pot", a funk-metal tune with a dark edge to it, featuring Keenan's forceful delivery, popping bass lines, and plenty of searing prog-metal guitar passages from Jones. "Lipan Conjuring" and "Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)" are two musical interludes, sort of ambient meets Pink Floyd/Porcupine Tree-like excursions, that provide a quick respite from the album's longer pieces.
Another hot track is the crunchy "Rosetta Stoned", a song that sounds a lot like the bands earlier material, with quick staccato rhythms, processed vocals, and dark, menacing guitar riffs. "Intension" plunges the band back into melodic and ambient territory, with lilting guitar chords, tribal percussion, and spoken work vocals. Probably the least appealing song here, and one that borders on actually being boring. "Right In Two" takes a similar approach at the start, but then starts to build with nifty percussion and then some massive power chords before ending with a furious onslaught of crunching guitar riffs and manic rhythms. The CD ends with the long and drawn out instrumental "Viginti Tres", more an excuse to tack on some extra time at the end of the album than anything else, as it's just some droning sounscapes.
10,000 Days will be seen as a triumph by some, a disappointment to others. I think overall there's a lot of daring stuff here, some vintage type performances, and some failure as well. The short of it is, any Tool release is usually a reason to celebrate, and this one certainly is as well. Progressive rock and psych/ambient fans-if you haven't yet given Tool a chance, this might be the album to do it with.
3. Wings For Marie (Pt 1)
4. 10,000 Days (Wings Pt 2)
5. The Pot
6. Lipan Conjuring
7. Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)
8. Rosetta Stoned
10. Right In Two
11. Viginti Tres