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Tool - 10,000 Days (CD)

Tool
10,000 Days
by Chris Downie at 21 June 2006, 7:04 AM

Reviewing a Tool album is a task which can never be taken lightly, such is the level of depth of their elaborate soundscapes, which provide new twists and turns with every subsequent listen. Yet it is with a degree of excitement (albeit shrouded in apprehension) that I approached this long-awaited release from one of heavy music's most crucial and iconic contemporary bands. Needless to say, my fears were soon dispelled, as the rich musical tapestry that is 10,000 Days quickly began to weave it's way into my conscience.

  Since their inception at the start of the 90's, Tool are a band who have both enthralled and repelled in equal measure, such is the polarising reaction with which their mind-boggling musical complexities are met. Owing as much to prog-rock legends King Crimson as to the likes of Black Sabbath, their classic albums Aenima (1996, Zoo/BMG) and Lateralus (2001, Volcano II Records) provided the soundtrack for many disillusioned rock fans, dismayed by the dumbed-down, instant gratification culture that has a vice-like grip on the youth of today. In short, they are a band who have really made people THINK and despite the five-year hiatus which has been typical of their album releases, the anticipation for 10,000 Days was sky-high.

  The title of the album centres around the plight of enigmatic frontman Maynard James Keenan's mother, who suffered from a stroke and endured the after-effects of long-term illness for 27 years (which translates to approximately 10,000 days), before passing away in 2003. As a result, the lyrics are decidedly less abstract and on a more personal level than before. Make no mistake, this is Keenan at his most revealing, introspective and soul-bearing yet.

  Given the stylistic leap forward that was Lateralus from it's predecessor, it may initially come as a surprise to many discerning listeners that 10,000 Days is no great departure from that magnificent opus. Instead, it harnesses all that was great about their previous recordings, resulting in a culmination of all their strengths and delivering a masterpiece which, while no mere re-tread of past glories, will undoubtably please fans of both early and latterday Tool alike. The stunning opener Vicarious, with an intro reminiscent of staple classic Schism, before building up into a rocker which wouldn't be found out of place on Undertow (1993, Zoo/BMG), sets the tone perfectly.

  Often seen as the anchor of the band's sound, drummer Danny Carey once against turns in a masterful performance, proving once again (if evidence were really needed) that he is beyond doubt one of heavy rock's finest drummers. The obligatory interludes are also present, albeit fewer in number this time (three out of the eleven tracks) and Harry Manback's answering machine is also spared their vitriol.

  While some may bemoan the fact that, on the surface at least, there are no huge surprises in musical direction, subsequent listens show a clear Meshuggah influence, no doubt the culmination of the two band's mutual admiration and touring partnership. With the album's eleven tracks clocking in at around 77 minutes, there is much to absorb, which will no doubt continue to confuse and captivate fans until the time of their next release. While those with typically short attention-spans will scoff in contempt, or shrug their shoulders in indifference, those who crave more in this all-too-predictable contemporary popular culture scene should once more prepare to be enthralled.

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Vicarious
Jambi
Wings for Marie, Pt. 1
10,000 Days (Wings, Pt. 2)
The Pot
Lipan Conjuring
Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)
Rosetta Stoned
Intension
Right in Two
Viginti Tres
Lineup:
Maynard James Keenan - Vocals
Adam Jones - Guitar
Justin Chancellor - Bass
Danny Carey - Drums
Record Label: Volcano Records
     


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