all the key elements are here and the machine is well oiled
"Have you really lived 10,000 or more days, or have you lived one day 10,000 or more times?" asks American self-development guru Wayne Dyer. It's pretty clear that Maynard James Keenan asks the same question on Tool's long-awaited 4th LP, while also purportedly keeping in mind the duration of days (27 years worth) between his own mother's stroke-induced paralysis to her recent passing. Despite the ambiguous poetry which comprises Keenan's lyrics, the conceptual framework behind '10,000 days', at least to these ears, appears to centre upon the usual juxtaposition of human apathy vs. concern for the way in which mortality is acknowledged, pure and head-fuckingly simple.
The album continues contrarily (feel the irony people) down the epic path beset by 2001's 'Lateralus' in terms of laying on the treacle-thick hooks as often as the mellower 1-12 minute long trips, and it all gels into a dose of that untouchable aspect of what heavy music often lacks in 2006. Seldom is a band so instantly capable of luring a listener in so unconditionally than when a few of those earth shattering 46 & 2 moments unfurl from their sleeve (see opener Vicarious and Jambi for details), you know the ones. Such brilliance is never going to be entirely consistent though, as that trippy side constantly teeters off into another realm completely (possibly best enhanced by foreign substances), as exemplified by Intension.
Indulgent meanderings into the ambient aside, all of the key elements are here and the machine is well oiled. Keenan is in fine voice (albeit sounding curiously like a rasping Mike Scott with a weird Irish lilt at times, check out Vicarious and chug along Meshuggah homage Pot for exhibits A and B), Carey and Chancellor bring the rhythm precision and Jones squalls like the obsessive virtuoso he is; sometimes with a sitar but almost always to the beat of some elaborate mathematical algorithm, the nerds.
'10,000 Days' sees a formidable force at play; it's probably best not to bother trying to wrestle with the yin-yang of the beast's schizophrenic nature though. After all, time is precious.