Earlier this year, progressive metal powerhouse, Tool, released their new studio recording, 10,000 Days to an anxiously waiting public (it was their first studio recording since 2001’s chartbuster, Lateralus). Choc-full of odd-time signatures, polyrhythms, technical riffs and lengthy, epic songs, the characteristics of Tool’s secret formulas remain a presence throughout their new creation. However, the quality of the songs themselves on 10,000 Days has come under fire from a variety of die-hard Tool fanatics.
Similar to how “The Grudge” opened the floodgates on Lateralus, the creative lead-off track “Vicarious” kicks open the door of 10,000 Days with power and precision. Displaying their ease and fascination with odd-time signatures (especially their mysterious connection to the number “5”), “Vicarious” and the following riff-laden, “Jambi,” prove that the musicianship of the members is as strong as ever. Other stand-out tracks include “The Pot” as well as (perhaps) their best and most melodic track of the CD, “Right In Two.”
On the other hand, though 10,000 Days (like any Tool recording) is indeed quite an undertaking. Despite some very strong tracks, the majority of songwriting on the new release doesn’t seem as memorable or harmonious as previous endeavors. 1996’s Aenima, for example, is perhaps the most balanced recording of songs containing an equal amount of musicianship mixed with unforgettable hooks, and emotive and melodic songwriting.
Unfortunately, the past two Tool releases haven’t quite matched the balance of magic found on that epic recording. Although the above-mentioned tracks stand out as remarkable moments, the greater part of the songwriting and melodies on 10,000 Days becomes somewhat-forgettable. One can’t help but hear the strong influence of Tool’s idols and recent touring partners, King Crimson, throughout this record. This new release features too many moments containing linear/looping riffs, prolonged ethereal sections, and other moments that sound improvisational.
Despite some of its shortcomings, the production values, sound quality and musicianship of the recording are still far beyond what you get from many bands and genres today. It’s probably safe to assume that Tool is and will continue to be a leader in the world of new metal and progressive music for years to come. One last thought: It is fine to be as progressive, risky and different when writing music – just make sure there’s a collection of “songs” hiding in there first!