Ten Thousand Daze
After five years of exploring the occult, searching for aliens and dabbling in LSD, Tool finally returns with their forth full-length studio release, 10,000 Days. The title refers to vocalist Maynard James Keenan’s mother, who was partially paralyzed by a stroke that left her wheelchair bound for 27 years (roughly 10,000 days) until her death. Keenan’s lyrics dabble with this sort of emotional introspection as well as the other usual fodder: metaphysics, government conspiracies and extraterrestrials. Kicking off with the one-two punch of radio single “Vicarious” and “Jambi,” two seven-minute-plus driving tracks of heavy rock, it appears that the band has carried over much of the feeling and intensity of Lateralus. Both songs execute tried-and-true rhythmic arrangements, guitar passages and vocal treatments, giving fans what they’ve come to love and expect from Tool without firmly setting this album off as its own entity.
“Wings For Marie” slows down considerably, hitting a mini-climax before transitioning into “10,000 Days (Wings Part 2),” an 11-minute prog-rock opus featuring copious guitar noodling by Adam Jones and weather effects courtesy of Lustmord that give depth to the building storm. The epic build-up and release of this pair forms the heart of the album. Next comes “The Pot,” which Keenan opens alone, pushing the higher octave of his voice. Jones’ pick-hand muting propels this heavy-hitter forward, closing out the disc’s first half. Ambient segues encapsulate the remaining tracks, slightly impeding the carefully calculated focus.
“Rosetta Stoned,” another 11-minute marathon this time detailing the protagonist’s experiences in Area 51, progresses musically in lurching movements that are vintage Tool. From here, 10,000 Days starts to slowly unwind, rekindling the flame briefly within “Right In Two” before dissipating into nothingness.
The culmination of this typical Tool journey is enhanced by its innovative packaging. Stereoscopic lenses included allow the listener to view Alex Grey’s artwork with added depth, an excellent accompaniment to the album’s peaks and a suitable distraction through its valleys.