Herald rating: * * * *
Tool's fourth album in 16 years is an achievement. 10,000 Days still sounds like Tool, with all the menace and heaviness that is expected, but this is the sound of a band wanting to challenge themselves, and anyone who wants - and dares - to listen.
It's not as angry as previous albums and takes on a more contemplative tone, and its many long mantra-like moments make it less gripping than their older works. But, never fear, the intensity and sheer power remain right throughout its 76 glorious minutes.
It's like being in a trance, but this is no new-age Tool, and it's not an outlandish experimental album. It is an album of extremes. The Pot is a heavy-metal, blues-groove, Jambi is a deathly guitar serenade, first single, Vicarious is trademark bludgeoning Tool, and the convulsing Rosetta Stoned, at 11-plus minutes, is one of the best Tool songs yet.
The final three tracks end the album on a disconcerting mood, broken up by the jarring riffs of the beautiful Right In Two. You can hear all these different moods in one song on the 17-minute epic Wings For Marie (Part 1/10,000 Days (Wings Part 2), which is an ode to singer Maynard James Keenan's mother who died in 2001.
It's a touching track that highlights a sensitivity rarely seen in Keenan.
The artwork by Tool guitarist Adam Jones is, as always, excellent. Along with the 3D glasses that set off the spooky and typically Tool images inside the booklet that comes with the package, it should be an incentive for you to buy it that way instead of just downloading the music.
But beware your eyes.
Tool albums are always a trip and an emotional experience. Aenima, from 1996, was a landmark, and remains - despite this latest ambitious beast - Tool's best work. But when there's something as remarkable as 10,000 Days you have to love them both.
Tool play Big Day Out '07 on the Blue Stage