First off, let’s discuss the packaging. No standard jewel case, nor even one of those ‘digipak’ things. Take a butcher’s:
In case you can’t tell, the packaging comes with built in steroscopic lenses so you can see the pictures in the booklet in 3D. Nice touch. Packaging be damned, though. What about the music?
Well, it’s a Tool album. It’s big, dark and intricate. It has haunting and scary bits interjected with huge metallic rocking-out bits. It’s claustrophobic but liberating, brutal but empowering, overblown but somehow strangely accessible. It’s not the sort of thing you’d play to a Guns’n’Roses fan and expect them to get it, but anyone who likes their guitar music to be a little progressive, complex and structured is probably going to find a lot to reward them here. Long-term Tool fans, I’m not so sure about. People get funny about bands they’ve been into ‘since the beginning’, and often turn on more recent works as being some sort of sell-out to the band’s earlier principles. Indeed, much in the same way as the latest Nine Inch Nails album got a thorough kicking from the people who should have loved it most, this record has not had an easy ride. To my mind, Keenan has pre-empted this sort of bullsh*t with a song from an earlier album, namely ‘Hooker With A Pen*s‘:
“…I sold out long before you ever even knew my name…”
No-one is ever going to describe this as an easy album, and I’ll be surprised if it crops up in many ‘best of’ lists, except those of a certain sort of person. Tool aren’t about pandering to fashion. They’re about…well, exorcism, in my opinion.
‘10,000 Days‘ is a frightening trip through Keenan’s imagination. I hesitate to second-guess his songs (largely due to comments he has made in interviews before), but for me there are songs dealing with alienation, intellectual frustration, political fury, and a whole lot of other things. I have no doubt that I will find more things in the lyrics to be fascinated by the more times I listen.
And the music itself will make that a likely occurance. Much like this album’s predecessor ‘Lateralus’, there is a range of texture and feel to the songs that many bands would be hard pressed to match. They can do the full on 4/4 rock songs, albeit with a crafty drum loop and Keenan’s vitriolic vocals, yet they can also do the dark and haunting passages, the over-compressed schizophrenic moments in obscure timings and the more-muso-than-thou outros and codas. If you like your heavy guitar music to have some depth to it, some landscape, then get hold of a copy of this album soon. If you’re a fan already, I doubt you’ll be disappointed. If you’re not, you may just be converted.