Sound — 9
To start, I absolutely love Tool. And I loved the sound of this album, after giving it a chance, which is what you have to do. Initially, you will probably say, as I did, there's too much ambience, the music is ambiguous and doesn't lead anywhere, and there's just not enough "music" present, but when you delve into the tracks, and listen intently, the music exists, and it rocks. Jones and Chancellor play amazing as always, with their stuff ranging from exotic (Lipan Conjuring) to heavy (Jambi) to haunting (Lost Keys). Danny Carey is of course pounding away, offering a great balance to the music.
Lyrics — 9
MJK. That's really all you need to know. The stuff steers away from the spiritual- mind and body direction that was present on Lateralus and observes a more cynical, yet condoning look at the world and society, possibly returning to the roots of Aenima. However, IMO, both parts of Wings, as a single song, might be the best song Tool has ever composed. It's monumental, and the lyrics are some of the best Maybrad has ever penned. The album becomes a bit muddy towards the end, such as Right In Two, which just seems a bit weak at certain points.
Overall Impression — 9
Initially I was disappointed that after waiting five years this is what Tool came out with. But after listening to it several times, all at once, which is what I recommend, it really grew on me. Vicarious lyrically fits well with Jambi, which is why they are probably 1-2, but soundwise seems more appropriate for somewhere in the middle of Lateralus, maybe following Schism or Parabola. It doesn't really fit on 10000 Days, which is probably why it starts the album. As I mentioned before Wings For Marie and 10000 Days (Wings Part 2) are probably collectively the best song Tool has ever done, definitely Maynard's best (Between APC and Tool). The Pot reminds me of something relative to Opiate, a very daring and raw song, that starts with sounds from Maynard that I didn't think he was capable of. Lipan Conjuring is your generic Tool riff-raff, a very tribal and exotic sound. Together Lost Keys and Rosetta Stoned are awesome and haunting, with the initial playing the part of a question and the latter playing the part of the answer to the question. RS is unlike anything you have ever heard from Tool. Intention is a bit a passive compared to RS, and brings you down from your high slightly. For some reason, Right In Two, a song that seems portentially to maybe have radio play, doesn't really do it for me. It sounds a lot like Forty-Six & Two to me, but hey, whatever. Finally, Viginti Tres, which is pretty much a concoction of noises and groans, concludes the album in a solemn way, almost putting the listener to sleep. Then again, this is the end of the album, so why stay up. Eleven tracks, but most are 6-7 minutes. This album is not as good, IMO, as AEnima, and maybe not as good as Lateralus, but I wouldn't slide it any further down than that. The form wants to know if this was stolen, would I buy it? Of course I would, it comes with those sweet glasses.