A look back at Tool’s 2006 album 10,000 Days.
In this Patreon requested album review I was asked to look back at Tool’s (as of now) most recent release 10,000 Days. With everyone currently in the cyclical uproar about the possibility of a new Tool album finally coming out this or next year along with consistent touring the band has done in 2016, there is reason for anticipation. On top of that, it has now been over a decade since the latest Tool album. 10,000 Days, coming FIVE years after the bands previous work Lateralus, sold over half a million copies on its first week of release, received two Grammy nominations and won a Grammy for best recording package. This album was highly praised from day one and still continues to receive attention for the craft and work included.
Many people that see, hear and try to understand the concepts that Tool produce are usually left in a whirlwind of information, but in some cases they aren’t as complicated if broken down. For starters, the term 10,000 days is roughly the time it takes for Saturn to orbit around the sun, but is also described by Maynard James Keenan as: “(10,000 Days is) the time when you are presented the opportunity to transform from whatever your hang-ups were before to let the light of knowledge and experience lighten your load, so to speak, and let go of old patterns and embrace a new life.”
Self-reflection and embracing the future is always an admirable trait, but when you add in the progressive and guttural style of Tool in an album that spans over 70 minutes, it can be a lot to take in. In the case of 10,000 Days though, it’s worth the experience. You are going to be getting much more with your money and time in an album that takes its time to build a setting and atmosphere where music like this can live. But whether you are playing the album from beginning to end or just listening to a specific song, it still feels in every way unique that you are listening to Tool and that there is nothing else like this band and what they can create.
Vicarious was one of three songs featured on radio play that could actually be played as singles. I say that in a sense because people want to hear Tool on the radio but playing an eleven minute song just isn’t always feasible. But even a song like Vicarious at seven minutes can be shortened down and still come out beautifully. Just from the opening guitar riffs and the first verse worth of lyrics you get the feeling that Tool lives in a world all their own. Keep in mind that 10,000 Days was five years after Lateralus, but even after several years worth of waiting it’s amazing to hear the first couple minutes of a 70 plus minute album and you get the exact same emotions pulled from a band like they picked up where they left off.
My impression with 10,000 Days from the first time I listened years ago and still today is that it feels very bass and drum heavy and that works to the album’s advantage. It’s rhythmic and deep which helps Maynard’s higher vocals stand out. The songs feel connected this way and everything flows fluidly from track to track, regardless if it’s a heavier or softer song.
When I first listened to the album back in 2006 from the beginning it was when I got to the title track that I was sold. It’s almost hypnotic in a way that you are sucked into a slow rhythm and then after five minutes you are on the edge of your seat listening to Maynard get louder and the guitar coming in strong into a pounding heavy sequence just to melt back into a slow burn with Maynard softly closing out the track and Jones strumming a few notes.
While the songs that hit hard like Jambi and The Pot really stand as a testament that Tool is metal, it’s the ones that have an ambience and a pulse that reach out to me personally. Just like Tool’s albums before, 10,000 Days has these moments also that carry the album in a direction that most people who aren’t familiar with the band would never expect.
The last three tracks of the album starting with Intension are the moments that I think set bands like Tool and A Perfect Circle on a top tier for me. They can take their time and draw the melody with their instruments and vocals into something that feels almost terrestrial in that it is so natural sounding. While I still prefer Lateralus as a complete album, 10,000 Days still is undeniably an experience that needs to be heard – whether in parts or in one long listen. The fleeting moments that may not mesh as well or don’t hold the listener’s interest fail in comparison to the rest of an enormous feat that is this well detailed album.
It’s been 10 years since the last Tool album, and it feels like after each subsequent release the wait grows longer and more unbearable. The one saving grace is that Tool has delivered every time after the wait. If all the current touring and rumors lead to something new, then we may be finally getting something legendary in the process with an upcoming album. As for Tool’s most recent album, 10,000 Days is another example of just how creative and in their own world a band can become. Whether it’s the high volume or slow brooding you are looking for, this album will have something to offer you in an over 70 minute album, and every minute feeling unique.