One of the most enigmatic bands in the art rock and prog scene is Tool. They’re famous for their creative videos and albums like Undertow (1993) and Ænima (1996) have an almost godlike status. Lateralus (2001) is a modern classic in its own right. Each successive album was a quantum leap forward in terms of technique, song writing and overall complexity. This suddenly halted with the release of 10.000 Days (2007), causing much dismay and controversy among the Tool fan base. The debate about the merits of that album continues to this very day…
The controversy is very understandable when one expects something in the vein of Ænima and Lateralus. But Tool’s 10.000 Days is a whole other album. It’s almost like an esoteric and spiritual journey through the heart and soul of the band, hence the many subtle atmospheric sub layers and the almost sacred feel of this album. This is enhanced by compositions such as Lipan Conjuring, Wings For Marie and Lost Keys (Blame Hoffman).
The album does feature a couple of songs in the typical Tool wizardry which can easily rival with classic songs like Stinkfist, Ænima, Sober and Eulogy. This is certainly the case with Vicarious, Jambi and The Pot. The true progressive gems on this album are tracks like Rosetta Stoned, Intension, the title track and Right In Two. In those compositions the esoteric and atmospheric elements are brilliantly combined with the trademark Tool elements, such as Danny Carey’s intricate drumming, the rich jazz influenced bass parts by Justin Chancellor and Adam Jones’ signature guitar riffs.
A special mention should go to vocalist Maynard Keenan, whose angst ridden vocals and lyrical themes add another layer of depth and mystery to the enigma that is 10.000 Days.
This album is blessed with the truly stunning and rich production by Joe Baresi. If you want to get the full sonic experience of 10.000 Days you should listen to it with your headphones on.
This album proves that you don’t necessarily have to showcase your technical abilities on each album for the sake of being progressive. Tool use them in a sophisticated fashion by adding depth, texture and dynamics to their already rich sound. In short, 10.000 Days is a truly underrated album that can hold its own against classics such as Ænima and Lateralus.
written by Raymond Westland