Because Tool have this tendency to release their albums five years apart and because there's also this other tendency of producing masterpieces, turns out the anticipation prior to each release reaches fever pitch. Perhaps "10,000 Days" has disappointed some people, and it certainly puzzled me for the first couple of days, but now I'm pretty sure this is quite simply "just" another Tool work of art.
As usual, the album is broken down into segments, groupings of tracks even if it all naturally flows from start to finish and it's over before you know it. "Vicarious" starts off powerful, great riffing and in a sense it reminded me both of Aenima, Lateralus and even A Perfect Circle mixed together. It segues naturally into "Jambi" which is another powerhouse of a track, including a most excellent talk box solo by Tool's guitar player Adam Jones.
I had some hard time trying to intuitively make sense of the "Wings For Marie"/"10,000 Days" segment that follows, but it was just a matter of turning the volume up a notch and letting myself get involved in the eerie atmosphere of these tracks. Beautiful, just beautiful. And moving.
From here, highlights for me are definitely "The Pot", old school Tool again with a great riff and "Right in Two", a beautiful slow song which showcases Keenan's amazing capabilities. The rest of the band is at the very top of their form as well. The music tends to revolve around Jones' guitar, which is versatile as always, but Justin Chancellor really does a great job with a lot of unconventional and powerful bass lines. As for Danny Carey, what else to say, this guy is simply one of the best drummers out there these days.
It's still too early to say whether this can be Tool's best album ever - and does it matter? - but it's already obvious that they did not disappoint at all. This band has undeniably been on a constant progression and refinement of their craft with each release, this one being no exception. The test of time will tell how good this album really is. Certainly one of the best of 2006.