Sound — 6
First of all, let me just start off by saying that I've been a hardcore Tool fan for several years now. Even though I think some aspects of what they do can be somewhat laughable at times, I still enjoy the music. I've been into Tool since I was introduced to them by Riki Rachtman one night while watching Headbanger's Ball (remember that show, kids? ). Back then, Headbanger's Ball was mostly playing a lot of pretty heavy shit with the occassional Nine Inch Nails or Soundgarden thrown in every so often. I can't remember if it was the Prison Sex or Sober video that I saw first, but I remember thinking these must be some really messed up guys to come up with such a twisted video. I mean, it was metal (sort of) but no long hair, no headbanging, no fire, just puppets. And the music wasn't fast and heavy, but dark and twisted instead. Well, I thought it kicked ass and I was immediately hooked from that point on. I liked the fact that they've always brought something unique to the table. With each new album Tool has continually evolved into something more complex and interesting than it was before. Until now. Which of course brings me to 10, 000 Days. As I said before, Tool has always evolved with each new album... with the exception of 10, 000 Days. This album was, for Tool, a big step in the wrong direction. Right away, even after a brief first listen I get the impression that the band didn't put the same time and energy into creating this record as they had with previous Tool efforts. Much of what was great about first popping in a new Tool CD in the past was that first listen. I remember first popping in the Aenima CD back when it first came out and just being blown away by Stinkfist right of the bat. I must've played that song at least 10 times while looking at the cool hologram thingy in the booklet before I even moved onto the next song. That album was a musical landmark in the genre at the time. However, I just don't get that feeling with 10, 000 Days. With this one, I found myself kind of flipping through songs trying to find the good one... very disappointing, needless to say. Nothing on 10, 000 days really stands out to me as something creatively new for Tool. The style to me is most reminiscent of Lateralus, but a much weaker interpretation this time around. As far as the songs go, my favorite on 10, 000 Days is definitely Right in Two. I've listened to that song probably about 50 times by now and I'm still not sick of it, even though the lyrics are probably some of the worst on the album. My second favorite probably would have to be Jambi. This song is very Lateralus-sounding, with lots of interesting changes throughout. My least favorite song on the album is Vicarious. I still cannot figure out how this song came to be. It's clearly a radio song. One of the things I've always respected about Tool as a band is the fact that they don't make "radio songs." Sure, Lateralus had songs on the radio (Schism, Parabola) and so did Aenima and Undertow (Stinkfist, Sober), but they were not the typical "radio songs." You know, the type of song that has no place on an otherwise creatively inspired album except for the sole purpose of promoting the record via radio waves. Vicarious is complete garbage and has no place on a Tool record what'soever. What pisses me off even worse is that they're actually touring with that piece of crap as like the big encore song or whatever. I just don't get it. Anyway, enough about Vicarious. I could go on all day. Another thing that gets me about this album is the idea that you have to burn a duplicate CD to somehow be able to simultaneously play the songs Wings for Marie, 10, 000 Days and Viginti Tres or whatever to get some sort of 3D musical experience. Personally, I think they did it because they ran out of new song ideas and needed to fill three track slots with essentially one song. God forbid they release an album with less than 12 tracks. Whatever. Hell, old Metallica albums only had 8 songs and they were great albums, worth every penny. Anyway, I just feel that somehow we lost Tool somewhere along the way. I don't know if it's because Maynard is putting a lot of his creative energy into other things or if the band is just running out of ideas in general, but something about 10, 000 Days definitely leaves a bad after taste. Songs like Rosetta Stoned, for instance. What the hell is that?! Aside from the kick ass riff that comes in at about the 3:00 min mark, that song is all over the place ridiculous. First, you have Maynard scat-rapping like Jonathan Davis from Korn and then doing some sort of Alice in Chains voice about halfway through while the whole time talking about being abducted by aliens and shitting the bed. I want whatever drugs he's on... just don't give me a pen and paper because I might be tempted to write a shitty song. There is however one other semi-decent song left on the album called The Pot. The Pot starts out with Maynard singing like Joni Mitchell for who the hell knows what reason and then gets a little better shortly after as soon as the bass comes in. The vibe and sound is reminiscent of something from Undertow and Maynard's voice throughout the song sounds like something from their old days as well. Other than these songs I've just mentioned, the rest are either primarily instrumental or have very little vocals or drums. More like "ear candy" as a friend of mine used to say about certain Tool tracks that aren't really complete songs per se, but more like interesting noise between actual songs. So on a whole, I feel the album is lacking in several ways. One way in particular is that Tool's musicianship has fallen off with 10, 000 Days. Where have all the kickass basslines, drums, and guitar accents gone? The music in this regard has lost much of it's edge heard on Lateralus 5 years ago. Maynard's voice hasn't changed much however. He still sounds like Maynard since he adopted his signature vocal style around the time of Aenima that he's stuck with ever since. You know, the quiet sort of nasally humming he started doing on the song "H" from Aenima. But it sounds cool I guess, so it's all good to me. So now let's break down the lyrics.
Lyrics — 4
As far as lyrics are concerned on this album, let me first start off by saying that 10, 000 Days sadly has some of the worst Tool lyrics ever written. Usually I can really get into the twisted and demented imagery represented in Tool lyrics from the past. In fact, one of the major things that made Tool so interesting was the disturbing lyrics and subject matter like anal sex, fisting, metaphysical, etc. With 10, 000 days, the lyrics are not only of significantly lesser quality than before, but also completely lacking in any element of creepiness. Has Tool finally become normal? Have they lost all their weirdness and just become a regular old run of the mill rock band? It would seem so with this album, lyricwise. I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see a typical Tool-esque video released for any of the singles for this album. Maybe they'll just show live footage. Who knows.
Overall Impression — 5
Overall, bottom line is that this album is a disappointment. And as I said before, this is coming from a real Tool fan. They only thing I can hope for in the near future at this point is a Perfect Circle album next year that blows my friggin socks off because God knows it'll be at least another 5 years before any hope of anything new again from Tool to redeem themselves from this mediocre attempt. So just to clarify a litte, I don't completely hate the album 100%. There are some good things going on with this album such as Right in Two, Jambi, and The Pot. And if Tool had never existed prior to this release and no one knew what they were capable of, I would say this album kicks ass. So I guess I'm a little biased in the sense that being an avid fan of Tool and having followed their career for several years, I have high standards for what a Tool album should be. This record, unfortunately did not live up to those expectations. But I will say that as pretentious as Tool may seem to some (especially on 10, 000 Days), it still seems that they never take themselves too seriously which in my opinion is the only thing that allows them to get away with some of the bad judgement calls that made their way into this record. But after all that being said, 10, 000 Days is about a billion times better than anything else in the rock genre that I've been hearing out there lately. At least they're not making some emo crap and crying about some chick like all the other bullshit on the radio. So for that, I thank you Tool. But please never make another song again with the word "abananadabanana" in the lyrics ever again. I can only let it slide once. Peace.