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CD Review: Tool – 10,000 Days

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Even though the album has leaked into every orifice of the Internet and even if you’ve downloaded it, please support Tool and buy this album when it comes out.

At 21 years of age, I thought I’d be too old to get excited over a new album, but my nights and days were spent constantly thinking about this particular album since the day Blair on Tool’s official website said that recording was complete. As I listened to 10,000 Days I realized that no, I wasn’t too old to get excited over a new album – especially since it’s been almost five years coming.

Opening with the first single, “Vicarious,” the album begins in an explosion of sound. It sounds like almost a mix of “Schism” and “Parabola” from their 2001 effort Lateralus. It speaks of our love for violence in the media and yet, when it comes to reality we struggle to deal with it. Vocalist Maynard James Keenan (herein to be known as MJK) sings “…I need to watch things die / from a good safe distance / vicariously I / live while the whole world dies / you all feel the same / so why can’t we just admit it?”.

Adam Jones comes through continuously throughout this album and on “Jambi”, he is truly amazing. “Jambi” is almost a continuation of “Vicarious” but here, instead of watching violence, we are almost creating it. The song illustrates falling to “the dark side” or succumbing to the bad thoughts in our mind — “…in love with the dark side/ I’d found / dabbling all the way down / up to my neck…” – and yet somehow pulling ourselves back before we get too deep.

What I am about to say will outrage Tool fans, but “Intension” reminds me of an A Perfect Circle song – if only for a moment. MJK could not have left A Perfect Circle without being influenced in some way by the song-writing. “Intension” is filled with quiet guitar sounds contributing to a beautiful 7+ minute track. It almost reminds me of “Disposition” or “Parabol”. Its light electronic programming gives it a hint of something slightly Nine Inch Nails circa The Fragile era, but the guitars are certainly signature Tool.

“Wings for Marie” and “10,000 Days” were originally supposed to be one song, but were split into two to make it more accessible. I believe the song would have been more effective as one, but then it would have been a little over 17 minutes. This will be a very popular song among fans, as it is the most haunting and most personal song on the album and most probably the most personal song that Maynard has ever written. Judith Marie Keenan who died many years ago has been written about before – in A.P.C’s “Judith”. However, this song is much deeper and personal.

MJK has been known to have his own thoughts on organized religion and here they are ready and open for us to read. However, MJK states that despite many people who call themselves religious and do not practice the religion, his mother was true to it until the very end of her life. “I have come home now! / Fetch me the spirit, the son, and the father / tell them their pillar of faith has ascended. / It’s time now! My time now! / …Give me my wings!” To say that his own mother was the very pillar of the holy trinity is such a powerful statement and yet almost heartbreaking at the same time.

I don’t know many bands that could simply carry a brilliant song with just a strong bass line and light drumming, but Tool certainly prove that point in “The Pot” thanks to Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor. The vocals are simply amazing in this song as MJK seems to open some vocal chords that I don’t think I’ve heard before. His voice is almost haunting as he sings — “who are you / to wave your finger? / You must have been out of your head / “and then sings “You must have been high”– illustrating MJK’s distaste for people who don’t care about others and how people treat each other when they simply “don’t give a fuck”. This is one of the other heavier tracks of the album and is well suited to the anger throughout.

“Lipan Conjuring” is almost an intermission-type song, only running for 1:13. It jumps straight into the slow and yet spine-tingling “Lost Keys”. Throughout the track there is continuous dialogue between a doctor and a nurse speaking of a patient who is in a catatonic state after a traumatic event.

“Rosetta Stoned” is the continuation of “Lost Keys” but is a little heavier. Now we are learning why the patient is in such a state in the first place. This song will be forever known as the “Shit the bed” song. “Rosetta Stoned” tells of the character being abducted by aliens and suffering traumatic events. However, some may take this as someone spinning out by doing all the wrong drugs… a total “don’t take the brown acid” moment. “Strapped down in my bed / Feet cold and eyes red / I’m out my head / Am I alive, am I dead? Can’t remember what they said / God damn, shit the bed.” Try listening to this song whilst falling asleep – quite an experience.

I love “Right In Two” so much and is probably my favourite song on the album. It is taken from the point of view of angels watching humans live their lives. However, in the song we are monkeys as the angels watch “…on the sidelines, puzzled and amused”. It talks about how God gave us free will and wisdom and reason and we should be banding together as one, however we break apart and hurt each other to achieve what we want. It is essentially a story about greed and hurt amongst humans. “Father bless them all with reason, and this is what they choose.” It’s a wistful song but aesthetically is awesome. It starts off slowly and ends brutally. I love this song so much because it begins so calm and ends so brutal, you would be stupid to listen to this on your iPod – this needs to be blasted LOUD. Annoy the neighbors. It will be worth it.

10,000 Days is essentially a tragic album as each song contains some form of tragedy whether it be a death, a state of mind, or the state of society. The main theme I drew from this album is death — the death of a loved one, speaking about death, being close to death, killing someone, watching someone being killed, going through the grief and pain caused by death. It constantly has references to death such as the mention of zombies in “Vicarious” or talking of raising the dead in “The Pot” and also referenced in “Rosetta Stoned”, “Lost Keys”, the obvious “Wings for Marie” and “10,000 Days” and other songs throughout. It’s also an album of love because we could not have felt grief if we did not love and we could not have felt remorse if we did not love. The album almost serves as a confessional – portraying human weaknesses – our greed and temptation and succumbing to “the dark side” or the Devil.

Aesthetically, each and every song on this album is constructed so beautifully and each song stands on its own. There is a mix of heavy and a mix of slow and calm and Tool fans will not be disappointed. However, this is not an album that you will love from a brief listen through. You really have to sit down with this album and go through each and every track. 10,000 Days is such a wonderful album and if you really listen to it, it will make you think about so many things – not only about yourself but about the society in which we live. Only a brilliant album does that to you and 10,000 Days certainly did that for me.

About Jessa

  • Ray

    Yeah, HIGHLY addictive album. Masterpiece. The more you listen to it, the more you’re drawn in by it emotionally. And that’s before you start realising the lyrics through the repetition. Once you get those (checking out sites like toolshed.down.net also helps), it just rockets the experience to a new level!!! F|_|ckin awesome!!! Ray, 30, South Africa

  • http://blogcritics.org/mt/tb/46588 I Don’t Know!!

    I have no idea whether I should buy the album or not. I have heard that’s it’s exceptionally great and that to others it sucked ass. I want to know from others. But please no Tool freaks or Tool Haters, just common ppl. Help a Tool listener out please. Thank you. :)

  • p-jizzle

    Save your money dude. You should just download “right in two,” the only decent song in my opinion.

  • AgentOrange

    How do you guys know 10000 days (wings part II) is about Maynard’s mother? Not that I don’t believe you, I was just wondering if someone actually heard this for a fact from Maynard? Honestly, when I first heard this song, I thought it was about Satan finally gaining acceptance into heaven. Listen to the lyrics and tell me what you think.

  • Unhappy fan

    Hey guys, before you diss me for my handle, let me say that I am huge Tool fan, and honestly I was really disappointed at Maynard’s behavior after the show in Kansas City. A friend of mine was let backstage, she was a girl of course, Maynard will not allow men backstage with him, apparently he is a total male whore (and no, this isn’t what bothers me, of course most males who could get as much punani as him would be a male whore). Ok, so let’s get to what I am mad about. First off, this girl who was let backstage has been backstage with Maynard 3 times, so she has seen his behavior a couple times. The first time she was backstage there was another girl who brought her brother, which totally pissed Maynard off cause he only wanted girls backstage, and she said to Maynard,”Hey my brother is a huge fan, he has loved every album you have ever done, it would mean so much to him if you would just give him your autograph and then he’ll leave”. So in response to this, Maynard did give him his autograph, he took a permanent marker, signed a grapefruit, then threw it at this kid’s head and said, “why don’t you cry about it you fuckin pussy”, then he had the kid violently thrown out. I’m sure the rest of you Maynard fans would be pretty pissed if one of your favorite artists treated you like this, he could have easily just been nice and secured himself another lifelong fan. I really think that behavior is totally fucked up.

    Then, after the show at this Friday at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri, Maynard invited this same girl backstage; she was one of four girls who made it backstage by the way. Anyway, they are talking to Maynard and they ask him what it’s like to be onstage with everyone cheering, basically what it’s like to be the center of so many people who totally love what you do. Maynard shrugs and says, “whatever, it pays the bills”. The girls then respond to him and say, “but, being the center of so much energy must energy must be awesome right, I mean isn’t that what keeps you going?”. Maynard replies, “nope, it just pays the bills”. Then he says something to the effect of how he doesn’t enjoy what he does at all.

    You guys can say what you want, but Maynard just lowered himself significantly in my opinion. I’m sure if he heard me he’d just throw a grapfruit at my head and say, “Why don’t you cry about it you fuckin’ pussy”.

    Unhappy fan

  • Meh

    In response to unhappy fam I have to say I thought they were all cool guys but now that I have read your story I admit Maynard sounds like a total jackass. But hey there are celebrities in this world who are complete nice people and there are those jerk-off asses like Maynard. But you have to realize after about 15 years of this you’d think he’d get a little tired of putting up with the press and stuff right? But still even if you are a musician and a fan comes in for just a second to get and autograph suck it up and treat everyone with respect. So yeah I’m sorry to hear Maynard is a dick to guys and kids but that’s who he is and I’ll still listen to Tool all the same.

  • jonathan

    i actually hate this album a lot

    the primative vulnerable nature that i loved so much is gone, the production/mastering is poor at best, and maynard has, imo, become a mascot rather than a good vocalist

    even danny doesn’t sound like he gives a shit

    not a bad album, but i hate it because it represents the death of the near perfect quartet

  • jeff

    Wow…a lot of unhappy reviewers. I can’t blame them. This album was a letdown. 5 years it took for this?
    I agree with a comment way above who says they think Tool Has taken a step backwards. I however do not agree with the comment way back who says Tool is done. Please they are not Metallica, this album was good but just not Tool good.
    But compare it to some of the crap thats out there now and this album is awesome.
    Have faith in Tool. They are one of the only few credible bands left.
    This band put out Aenima and Lateralus. Two of the best albums ever. I am sure they still have some more left in there brains.
    Don’t give up on Tool.

  • lux ex Tenebris

    Maynard has a bad behavior. Why?

    This is called initiation. What you love in this plane of life has a begining and thus an end. All that you perceived is Maya. which is illusion. Don’t cheer the source. Just enjoy what your mind, at the moment, can handle and understand. They are not themselves the fathers of their own music….and they don’t go cry at God. Cogito Ergo Sum.
    Love is the Law, Love under Will….
    Quit the night and seek the Day!

  • tyler beaujon

    Sorry to see so many tool fans saying that if you dont like the new album we’re not Real fans. Maybe we just expect greatness from the greatest prog rock band ever. Maybe we dont just love it cause its tool. Thats a real fan….we dont just settle for the myriad of one chord songs that go nowhere in ten minutes….sorry but vicarious sounds like some band trying to write a song in the form of tool. I feel like tool fans have become as annoying as greatful dead fans…just rubbing one out to whatever they do as if its great just because its them… use your heads …i love tool, but ten thousand days is long winded and lame but i guess im not really a fan, right ?

  • Unknownsdsfj

    HAHAHAHA

    “5 years it took for this?”

    C’mon, they didn’t spend 5 years doin 10k days..twas 6 months actually

  • jiveturkeysuckafool

    Streaming, disorganized thoughts about this album:

    Perhaps this is due to the fact that my musical tastes haven’t evolved much since the mid/late 90s, but this album is VASTLY superior to lateralus – i still enjoyed that album immensely, but it seemed a bit too grandiloquent and preening at times (though this album certainly has its moments).

    aenima is transcendent (along with radiohead’s ok computer)for commercially-accessible rockish music, and i seriously doubt that anything that will be produced in the foreseeable future will even approach what that (those) album(s) was (were).

    album starts with a musical/lyrical reversion to aenima with vicarious, then looks back further to undertow and even opiate with jimba. wings for marie/10000 days should be called “eulogy 2″ in virtue of its lyrical motivation, though the music seems to my untrained ear to be a fairly ambitious, new enterprise. the pot…is by far the worst tool track to ever be publicly consumed…sounds like some obscene marriage between radiohead and monster magnet with tinges of opiate(that being said, it’s still far superior to the vast majority of alternative radio fodder). in true tool fashion, one of their greatest pieces of musical work is combined with lyrical levity (relative to some of their metaphysical/epistemological solilquizing) in lost keys/rosetta stoned. intension is another musically unique track for tool…though it might be more aptly named “the nietzschean pot.” one reason that tool is my favorite extant band is exemplified by right in two: take fairly simple music and cajole it into an engaging, distinctive sound, combine lyrically with a self-contained, moderately intellectually-accessible idea that is spruced up by its point of vantage, and the result is an overall captivating song.

    not that anyone should care (about any of what ive wasted time writing here), but i rate the five tool albums as follows:

    aenima
    10000 days
    undertow
    lateralus
    opiate

  • Ben

    THE BEST TOOL ALBUM YET

    any tool ‘fans’ who bag this album don’t truly know what tool is about, they’re not just progressive in their music, but in their albums.
    This album is another step up from their previous ones, and connects to people on a whole new level.

    VICARIOUS – BRILLIANT
    JAMBI – VERY GOOD
    WINGS – BRILLIANT
    10 000 DAYS – BRILLIANT
    THE POT – AWESOME
    LIPAN CONJURING – INTERESTING
    LOST KEYS – GOOD
    ROSETTA STONED – AWESOME
    INTENSION – AWESOME
    RIGHT IN 2 – BRILLIANT
    VIGINTI TREES – COOL

    10000 days is a brilliant album.
    11/10

  • Morphox

    This album has made me realise, Nine Inch Nails are better than tool by miles.

  • Morphox

    The album is alright, just not as good as there old stuff.. I don’t get why a band would release an album that they don’t feel surpasses their previous work. Well if they do feel it, I don’t care because Tool have become insignficant.