From what I've heard, liking the American Progressive Metal
is an acquired taste. For this band, it's not the 3-to-four-minute verse-chorus-verse-chorus that's important. It's the songs that take a different tone and take a different direction, and that's something that's really shown well in their 2006 release, 10,000 Days.
When I first heard Vicarious
(it had nothing to do with Guitar Hero World Tour), I decided to pick up the CD at my local used CD and record store. I was disappointed to find that Vicarious
is one of the few songs from 10,000 Days that has a heavy tone through and through, or a distinct metal format, or even a chorus. The reason I bought this CD was gone, because although I thought it was a great song, the majority of the album is lengthy slow songs. At the time, that meant boring to me. But just a few days ago, I decided to give the album another spin. I had gotten used to long songs (like from the albums Filosofem or Morningrise) and I'd gotten used to slow songs (For All Tid and Epicus Doomicus Metallicus), so I figured I would look at this album in a different way.
This is my first Tool
album, so I'm not too familiar with their music. I usually hear bellyaching from fans of Tool
who discuss this album, saying that it's too slow or too boring, so I assume that this Tool
album is quite unique from the others. It's definitely different for metal. For one thing, the bass in this album is crisp and clear, and has just as many parts as the guitar does. The songs all vary in their tempos and changes, and they have interesting speed changes that I took for granted when I first heard the album. The singer, Maynard James Keenan, has a unique set of pipes that can blast in a way reminiscent of James Hetfield of Metallica
, and can hit a soft baritone that reminds me of Garm of Ulver
. The bassist and guitarist fit together like fries and ketchup; perfectly compliment each other without pushing each other out of the limelight. The drums aren't far behind the rest of the band, keeping up with complicated rhythms on cymbals and bass-drum beats. Now let's get into the song-by-song breakdown.
Like I said already, the first song in this album is Vicarious
, a provocative 7-minute progressive metal medley about people's fascination with morbid tales on the news that is impossible to dislike. Keenan's voice really has some range on it this song, and I really like the riffs that keep getting stuck in my head. It has an awesome ending, blasting it's way through an intense chorus and clashing into an end. Track
two is Jambi, a mid-paced song that, while it has a slow and even-paced start, it also has good build up points and sections that are highly memorable for me (“Shine on forever, Shine on, benevolent sun... Shine down upon the broken until the two become one”).
Now we get into the main reason I sold my old CD of 10,000 Days. Wings
for Marie and 10,000 Days (Wings
pt 2). In total, the two songs clock in at about 17 minutes. They take a very slow tone, consisting of long patterns and soft, deep vocals. The two songs are relaxing and quieting, and they really give you a chance to stretch out and feel the music. There's really a lot more going on in them then I originally gave them credit for, and to my more mature self, they are the highlight of the album. Both
songs take a unique road but both present the same idea and tone. They're really moving, subtle songs, and are sad but hopeful if you understand what the songs mean. Every time I listen to these two songs back to back I like them more. I just want to say that those songs both require a lot of patience, so go in with an open mind. The next song is The Pot, and it's really more of a radio-play kind of song, but it still sounds great. Those vocals get better and better throughout the song, getting heavier and heavier all the time, but still staying cetered and disciplined. The only real problem is hearing it right after 10,000 Days. There should be some sort of transitional piece or something first. After that is Lipan Conjuring, nothing that interests me on this track. Just some tribal chant and tribal instrument being played for a little over a minute. Where was that song after 10,000 Days? It should go in between 10,000 Days and The Pot as a transitional song.
, next song is Lost
Keys, and this one goes on for too long. It's a repetitive guitar riff with some strange, otherworldly synth droning for about two minutes, followed by a dialogue between a nurse and doctor. It serves as an intro to Rosetta
Stoned, a song that I am currently obsessed with, clocking in at 11 minutes, but it's a lot faster and a lot more interesting to the average music-goer. I love this song. So much is going on to keep you interested. The guitar, bass, and drums compliment each other perfectly, along with Keenan's vocals that hit all the range you could want from a hard rock/heavy metalist of this time period. Some good sections are at 1:50, 3:29, 4:48-5:30, and 8:36. This is basically the concentration of everything good in this album compressed into one song. Knowing a little about Tool
, I'm sure there's some deep inner-meaning to this song, but I'll Google search what it means later, because right now I just love it too mucH. It's another definite highlight. After that is another cool down, called Intension, and I don't really know what to think about this one. It's minimalistic and simplistic, but calming. I think it would have been better as the last song of the album. It's very, very calming though, and I enjoy the guitar in it at times. Sometimes I just find this song too boring to listen to, so I guess my mood depends on it. After that, another slow one, and it's Right in Two
again, a lot to like about this song that comes with hearing it a few times. I like the lyrics a lot; there's a lot of religious and evolutionary questioning in it, as well as a message about war. The song builds in melody and intensity as it goes, and it's really packed with emotion. As I listen to it right now, I can feel like I can really get into it's ideas and meanings. Hearing this one and Intension sets a really good mood, and I find them better by themselves than with the context of the rest of the album. It also has a really good buildup into an awesome climax. The last song of this album is Viginti Tres, and it's really not needed. Basically just more creepy ambient noises and a few deep groans. Sort of reminds me of Dungeons of Darkness
... a nice mood-setter, but after Right in Two
, I already have a lot to think about and a lot that I'm left witH. Viginti Tres just reminds me that I'm sitting in my room listening to music. It kind of spoils the feelings that the previous 3 songs gave me.
Other than the faults of the last song and a little bit of inconsistency of emotion in a few song-to-song transitions, it's really a good CD. Go into it with patience and an open mind. It was definitely better for me after hearing it again after all this time. I Only wish I hadn't sold it. That
incredible psychedelic artwork and fun packaging almost made me keep it... And
this is the Tool
album that's supposed to be the bad one. Now I'm really interested to hear their other stuff. I think I'm gonna have to check it out.