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.