Pros: Unique packaging, fabulous lyrics, and a few really good songs
Cons: Erratic beats and repetative notes could drive me into homicidal rage
The Bottom Line: My first look at this band, and hopefully not their best work. Unique, but flawed...
With the right Tool... 10000 Days (Cd)
Recently, I have put forth a real effort in my life to further explore Music in all it's glorious variety. This is a trip I've taken many times in my life, although each trip has taken a different path. "Metal" isn't a genre I've explored greatly, but I've had my favorites from way back. So, while delving through the library's music catalogs under "Metal", I happened across a band that I had heard of (...vague memories of half-forgotten music...) but never consciously listened to, hmmm... "Tool". I requested their "10,000 Days" CD and thought little more about it, til it arrived...
After collecting it from the library, the first thing I notice about this CD iss it's artistic and unique packaging. Muave smokey images against midnight black, with eyes peering at me through a pair of 3D lens incorporated into the case. Through the lens, one can view a selection of pictures included inside... I think the yellow and blue one is my favorite... . While the images, as one might expect from a band found in the Metal category, are sometimes disturbing... a figure stuck with pins beneath a spiral of fire... the overall effect is quite pleasing... perhaps the rainbow hallway of minds is my favorite, hmmm.
I found this to be quite an intriguing visual introduction to the band members and the album itself. Cover Art has been a dying art form, in my opinion. I hope more bands pay this much attention to how their albums are presented, as I would love to see a comeback in this area of artistic expression.
Next step, of course, was to give a listen to the music itself. Here's the line up and some of my impressions...
This song had some good flow and a pretty driving beat, although I occasionally felt as if I were in a car with someone who hasn't figured out how to work the clutch just yet. I found this "jerked about" feeling in some of the other songs on the album but no where so prominently as in Vicarious. The lyrics though, are Fantastic!
"Eye on the TV 'cause tragedy thrills me Whatever flavor It happens to be
Like: "Killed by the husband" "Drowned by the ocean" "Shot by his own son" "She used the poison in his tea [and / he] kissed [him / her] goodbye" That's my kind of story It's no fun til someone dies
Don't look me at like I am a monster Frown out your one face But with the other Stare like a junkie Into the TV.."
A stark look at the dubiously helpful and entertaining invention, television. So many complain about what is on T.V., yet we all seem to be watching none the less. Our family has gone for years at a time without television, although we still watched DVDs and videos. In part, this was our protest to this particular type of "doublethink" so common now. Mostly though we wanted our kids to understand that this is meant to be Entertainment and that we should be very aware of what we a. entertain ourselves with b.how seriously we take something that is in large part, fiction. and c. how important it is not to allow society to unduly influence through this medium. I enjoyed Tool's viewpoint on this very much and feel this is one of those instances where the lyrics actually outweigh the song itself.
A little more traditional in sound and lyrics, I enjoyed the instrumental play in this one. Again, the lyrics catch my interest...
"Damn my eyes! If they should compromise A fulcrum [Want and need] divide me Then I might as well be gone...
Shine on forever Shine on benevolent sun Shine down upon the broken Shine [on 'til / until] the two become one"
So often I have felt that humanity confuses "want" with "need", and this causes all of us endless problems. Whenever I find myself getting frustrated over anything I feel that I don't have in my life, I try to stop and think... is this Necessary? I need Air to breathe, Water to drink, Food, Shelter... More often than not, this puts things back into perspective for me. It is so easy to get caught up too. Our washing machine broke last night, and while it is a great convenience to the family... I had to stop myself when I started thinking, "Ohmygod, now what do we do?! We can't afford a new washing machine right now, not even a used one! The kids need clean clothes! What am I going to do?" It's just a machine, not my oxygen supply. Yep, right back into perspective.The quiet pause between this and the next song was well placed...
Wings for Marie pt 1:
A very quiet song for Metal or even Alternative Rock, this appears to be a tribute to someones mother, or female relative...
"...Broken Fell at the hands of this moment so that I wouldn't see It was you who prayed for me so What have I done To be a son to an angel? What have I done To be worthy? Daylight dims leaving cold fluorescence Difficult to see you in this light Please forgive this selfish question, but What am I to say to all these ghouls tonight She never told a lie, ... well might have told a lie, But never lived one.
Didn't have a life Didn't have a life But surely saved one So I'm alright Now it's time for us to let you go."
Images of faded hospital rooms and bedside vigils are conjured. The music fits the mood of this song well.
10,000 Days (Wings pt 2) :
Funeral thoughts are rife here, in all their poignant angles and sharp edges...
"Listen to the tales as we all rationalize Our way into the arms of the savior, Feigning all the trials and the tribulations; None of us have actually been there. Not like you.
Ignorant fibbers in the congregation Gather around spewing sympathy, Spare me. None of them can even hold a candle up to you. Blinded by choices, hypocrites won't see."
Hmmm, Funeral Metal? By this point in the album, the perfection I find in Tool's lyrics has convinced me that I will be listening to more of their music. There is a nice droning edge in this song and the inclusion of rain and thunder really adds to the piece marvelously. I could almost smell the wet earth and remembered my own thoughts on those occasions where I have found myself standing graveside. While neither this nor the previous song is one that I'd listen to often, I was none the less impressed by the talents that created them. Perhaps it's the lyrics, or their ability to conjure mental images with just their music, but there is something about this band that really reminds me of both Zepplin and Pink Floyd with just a slightly heavier edge.
The Pot :
Hmm, perhaps it is just this album, but Tool seems to be on the mellow end of Metal in sound. More of a low steady energy , a visceral hook type rather than the typical "grab you by the heart or throat" offerings that I think of in this genre. However it lays a hold of you though, this genre of music should most definitely Grab you, in my opinion. The very best will pull you to your feet and force you to express yourself through motion. I enjoyed the "pot calling the kettle black" lyrics in this song too, such a common human failing...and if condemning a terminal pothead for hypocrisy, as the lyrics would suggest, the overall tempo is certainly appropriate.
Lipan Conjuring :
This is a short interlude that is definitely Native American inspired. An interesting addition, if brief.
Lost Keys (Blame Hoffmann) :
I instantly hate this song. It was like hitting an invisible roadblock. Up til this point, I had really been enjoying the rather mellow sounds of this band. This one though has a lot of sustained notes in it that sound like a siren, and it is pitched at just the right level to set my teeth on edge. The "lyrics" seem like just an excerpt from the emergency room,
Doctor: "...What's the problem?
Nurse: "That is the problem: we're not sure. "
Doctor: You've got the chart?
Nurse: Right here.
Doctor: Hmm... not much here, is there?
Nurse: No doctor, no obvious physical trauma, vitals are stable.
Nurse: No sir.
Doctor: Did someone drop him off, maybe we can speak to them? Let's get some background on this fellow.
Nurse: No ID, nothing, and he won't speak to anybody.
Doctor: Well, let's say hello....Good morning, I'm Dr. Watson. How are you today? How are you today? Look son, you're in a safe place, we want to help you, in whatever way we can. But you need to talk to us, we can't help you otherwise. Now, what's happened? Tell me everything..."
I seriously cannot stand listening to this one again as it gives me an instant headache, but it works wonderfully for what it really is, the prelude to...
A bit more energy, if oft times erratic and scrambled here. Again, It suits the song though. These two pieces work together to evoke the feel of someone trippin' on something they quite obviously shouldn't be... with bits of depression or other possible neurosis peeking around the corner. It's hard not to laugh at some of the lyrics though, even though you know there is much more serious intent behind them...
" 10 to 2 AM, X, Yogi DMT, and a box of Krispy Kremes, in my "need to know" pose, just outside of Area 51 Contemplating the whole "chosen people" thingy when a flaming stealth banana split the sky like one would hope but never really expect to see in a place like this. Cutting right angle donuts on a dime and stopping right at my Birkenstocks, and me yelping...
Holy f**king s**t!"
The beat here often feels like an erratic heartbeat, and Tool blurs the sharp edges of their music well to match that surreal quality that every sound seems to make whenever we are seriously unwell for whatever reason. Hmmm, very evocative!
Definitely one of those songs that feels trance-like, the repetitive sounds and lyrics stretch themselves into a shapes more like a mantra than a song. The title so aptly compliments the lyrics and defines the true intensions of the song itself. Quite good!
Right in Two:
Some very angry lyrics accompany this rather gentle music...
"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground. Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club, And beat their brother down. How they survive so misguided is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability, To lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here."
Possibly my favorite in this CD, I have to say I'm a sucker for great lyrics and Tool has a lot to say that definitely speaks to me. The mix of harsh words and relatively gentle music seems to be an increasingly popular device in Metal, and I do enjoy it. The music here is something that soothes and even energizes, which helps counterbalance the jarring and rather negative emotions that the lyrics could evoke. I particularly enjoyed the drumming in this piece!
Another instrumental to close out this very introspective/contemplative album... it mostly consists of what sounds like breathing into the microphone, cosmic sounds and demonic voices... and is largely wasted space in my opinion.
I have to say that Tool has caught my interest. While I didn't care for everything here, I heard enough that I did like that I will definitely have to check out some more of their work. They obviously know which end of their instruments to use, although I had a lot of issues with their conception of proper rhythm or energy in this CD. I have to say that this particular album doesn't seem to fit the Metal genre that I found it in though, as most of the works here were rather slow and contemplative.
The stellar quality of their lyrics recommends further exploration. Lengthy, contemplative, interesting use of music and clever lyrics... All in all, "10,000 Days" has stirred my curiosity even further about this band despite any drawbacks that I perceived in this particular CD.
I'd say 3 and a half out of five stars, rounded up for their stellar lyrics, unique artwork, and ability to leave me wanting more. 11 titles, with an overall runtime of over 70 minutes, hmmm. Is it worth it's cost? Well, I borrowed mine and this is my first look at the band, so I would have to say it depends on how big a fan you are. At this point, I personally wouldn't buy this just for the three or so songs that I really like, although I do think you can get this for a fair price as a fine example of Cover Art with some good music attached.
Great Music to Play While: Listening
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About the reviewer
Quinn Blackburn (Entwife)
Hello, my name is Quinn. :o) I also answer to Mom, YaYa, and occasionally Entwife. I enjoy Beauty wherever I find it... Nature, Music, Art in all its forms... I believe these to be true and sacred things … more
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With a majority of the songs on10,000 Daysclocking in well past the seven-minute mark, you wouldn't be entirely mistaken in thinking that the title of the album refers to how long it actually takes to make it through the whole thing. Two of the tracks--the sitar and tabla enhanced "10,000 Days (Wings Part 2)" and its suitably epic psych-rock sister "Rosetta Stoned"--even linger on for nearly a dozen leisurely minutes each. That's delightful news for the legion of Tool fans that have been waiting five years for the follow-up to 2001's Lateralus, which debuted at number one and sold 2.3 million copies in the United States. Singer Maynard James Keenan is back on mystical form after his hiatus with the politically slanted A Perfect Circle, sounding at once ethereal and eloquent as he calmly charges through the metal tempest of the opening track "Vicarious." The rest of the band, meanwhile, hits a series of high-flying moments with tracks such as "Jambi" and "The Pot." When Tool sounds as good as it does on these songs it's hard to get enough. Which makes it all the more baffling that a surprisingly large chunk of the disc is given over to mood-enhancing soundscapes like "Lost Keys" and "Vigniti Tres." Who has time for filler?--Aidin Vaziri