Tool 10,000 Days

2001’s Lateralus was a tricky double-edged sword — on one hand, the instrumentation and musical scope of the effort was extremely advanced, particularly for a band once classified as "alternative rock” or worse yet, "nu metal.” On the other hand, highly acclaimed front-man Maynard James Keenan’s lyrical approach became pretentious and excessively spiritual, while his voice itself veered too often into a grating, whiny falsetto. 10,000 Days sees not just their vocalist, but the entire group, take a massive step backwards, almost to the point of self-parody. Essentially featuring six proper songs, all disposable barring two cuts, and an assortment of interludes that vary in the degree to which they irritate the listener, but unfortunately never quite achieve their intended ambience. Lead-off single "Vicarious,” while featuring some truly abysmal recycled pseudo-political A Perfect Circle prose, is admittedly leaps ahead of the radio rock competition; meanwhile "Right In Two” features percussion that frankly, has to be seen live to be believed. The rest of the disc flounders along hopelessly, ranging from outright rip-offs of other, better groups, to outright rip-offs of their older, better albums, to completely unfocused attempts at pandering to their increasingly self-absorbed fan base. Hey, better them than drunken frat boys. Let’s hope the rumours of this being a gag release leading up to the "real” album are true — although the fact that such rumours even exist, coupled with the gimmicky packaging, should give you some idea of how utterly inessential a record 10,000 Days is. (Sony BMG)