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darkeningday
xXdArKenIngDayXx

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 1:20 pm
Posts: 4853
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2019 7:47 pm 
 

iamntbatman wrote:
I really wanted to wait until I had time to sit down and really dig into this thing. I do still think 10,000 Days was a major step down, but I also realize that part of my lack of appreciation for that album likely stems from the fact that I was far removed from my Tool listening days when it came out and simply didn't give it the attention or listens that I gave to earlier albums. With the new one, I wanted to make sure I didn't give it that same unfair shake. Plus recently I've been revisiting Tool a lot anyway, so I feel like I'm in a better place to take this new album in and judge it.

All those plans fell through when I was hanging out with a friend over the weekend who turned it on in the car against my wishes. I heard roughly the first three tracks in order, albeit on not great car speakers, with conversation and road sounds muddying the experience. Even so, I liked what I heard more than 10,000 Days for sure. My friend commented that it was weird, and that Maynard's vocals felt too APC-ish. I had the same latter complaint about 10,000 Days, but while that could still be a criticism of what I heard here, I think it was less of an issue. Musically, sure, no crazy new ground being broken, but I was captivated far more than with the last album and couldn't wait to listen to the whole thing front to back (perhaps that's a task for tomorrow). Very promising so far.

We're still waiting on your report, buddy.
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ambientsorrow wrote:
Pretty rubbish, I must say. Certainly not worth the hype behind it. Boring and predictable. A band for 14-22 year olds.

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iamntbatman
Chaos Breed

Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:55 am
Posts: 11422
Location: Tyrn Gorthad
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:10 pm 
 

Alright, here it goes.

Overall, I do think it's probably very slightly better than 10,000 Days, but there's still a lot about it I wish were better. Let's get into it.

The title track just lacks dynamics as an opener. It sounds nice at any given moment, and I like how subtle it is vs. something as jagged and scrambled as The Grudge, which with a ton of retrospect feels like a very patched-together song. However, I really wish it exploded with a lot more force than it does.

Pneuma is a step up, but ultimately I think it's sort of disappointing that the "payoff" in this song is sort of that chorus riff that comes back a few times and is pretty much the same each time. There are parts of this that really feel jammy, which feels like a strange turn for Tool. The tracks that have gone this way before tended to be the longer, more exploratory passages, rather than like "main tracks" if that makes sense. Also, Maynard seems really subdued in this song.

Invincible has a number of issues. For one, while it starts strong, later in the song Maynard seems to lose a lot of steam and doesn't ever explode vocally like I wanted him to do here. Also, that marching chug riff - I really like it, but the production really hurts it. It has the first part, then the drums drop out for the guitar solo part, then the drums come back in for the super dumb caveman stomp part under the same riff, but the production on the guitars remains unchanged. They really, really needed to pull an Aenima trick here and throw in a ton more rhythm guitar overdubs at this section to make it heavy as living fuck, but they didn't.

Ok, let's talk interludes for a second. What the fuck are these? Basically everything here sounds like something that would be a "hidden track" after a bunch of silence on the last track from an album from the 90's. Basically thrown together stuff that doesn't seem like very much effort was put in, with very little connection to the music around these tracks - probably a necessity due to the two different versions of the album. But man, I really do miss the quirky humor of "Harry Manback," the cheery-yet-scary circus organ of "Intermission" that also previewed the main riff/melody of the haunting "Jimmy," and the beauty of stuff like "Eon Blue Apocalypse" that just melded so damn well with the songs before and after. Every single interlude track on this is totally throwaway material, and that's a cryin' shame.

Descending - Another mixed bag. I like how Maynard's a lot more interesting and forceful on this track than he is in a lot of other places on the album. I really think exsiccation two posts back made a really great point about the band leaving room for Maynard, and with the general sentiment that this album feels more "post-rock" than anything they've done in a long time. I certainly think that drawn-out writing process results in the Maynard-less band eventually coming to write a lot of music that doesn't really have room for (or need, really) vocals, while maybe the shorter writing and recording cycles of earlier albums naturally resulted in them leaving more room for him. Descending is really one case where it feels like his vocals are on equal footing with the rest of the instrumentation. But, despite this high water mark for the vocals, most of the rest of the song is somewhat forgettable and comes the closest to A Perfect Circle of any track on the album (not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but we already have a band for that). Also, the first guitar solo in this might be Tool's least interesting one ever, and the synthesizer sounds wayyyy too similar to "Reflection." At least the last third or so is really, really good!

Culling Voices...ugh, what a waste! I really like the intro of this one, probably the best example of a really engaging introduction piece (so much tension!) shifting into the actual song, where we get another fairly strong Maynard performance. But then, it just meanders and meanders, like a slightly more normal/song-like "Disposition." And then, once again, the production doesn't really help out a ton when the dynamics ramp up halfway through the track, or maybe it's that the loud part that comes in is just like, regular old power chords playing something kind of dull? Maybe this track, and the album as a whole, are sort of symptomatic of trying and failing to have your cake and eat it, too. The more mellow bits work fine enough, but not so much so that they could be stretched out to ten minutes on their own to become "real" Tool tracks, so instead there's some sort of lazy big loud powerchord parts thrown in to have something to build up to and make a crescendo and all that. The song probably should've been way shorter, maybe as part of a suite of tracks, instead of shoehorned into being a full length Tool track.

7empest - Ok, first of all, I hate this song title. The fuck is this? Some kind of advanced wordplay that's far beyond me, or just some nonsense 1337 5p34|<? That out of the way, this is probably the best track on this thing, though again, I have some reservations! Cool riffs everywhere, yeah, and musically just way more engaging than something like Rosetta Stoned. And sure, yeah, it is good to hear Maynard bellowing nearly on the same level he did on Opiate and Undertow about things that irritate him (I guess?), these lyrics are just lame as shit. Cookies and cream? This reads a lot like soundcloud rapper stuff, which maybe it is, who knows. Luckily the riffs in this just have enough energy to carry it for that length, because there's just way less going on here than in something like Third Eye. Just sorta riff slideshow-esque for a Tool track, strung together with little chunks of lead guitar and a token sorta ambient breakdown/solo in the center part. Thankfully the guitar stays as juicy as it does throughout, or this could be a real borefest.

Mockingbeat is a horrible ending to the album.

On the whole, I'd make a comparison to one of my favorite bands, Mogwai - ignoring the fact that these guys have gotten pretty dull in recent years, for a good while they were pretty good about putting out engaging albums, then putting the more "mood music" onto soundtracks for films and shows about French soccer players and (also French) quasi-zombies. Playing to the audience, etc. Tool, on the other hand, has never soundtracked anything, but I feel like doing so might help them, creatively. Put out some lower-energy instrumental tracks as soundtrack material, then put the shorter and more controlled/direct tracks on proper studio albums. But eh, unless they totally revamp their approach to writing and recording, try to get things finished faster and incorporate Maynard in a more significant way earlier in the songwriting process, I don't think they're ever going to rise back above making stuff like this that serves well enough as background noise but will never capture my mind or heart like past opuses.
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BasqueStorm
The Wettest Blanket

Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 2:21 pm
Posts: 4688
Location: Turks and Caicos Islands
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:05 pm 
 

iamntbatman wrote:
Every single interlude track on this is totally throwaway material, and that's a cryin' shame.

I first got the version without the interludes and could listen to them later. What a waste!

I suppose the album is Ok but was it REALLY necessary to wait 13 years for this?!? Or worth? I don't think so.
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iamntbatman
Chaos Breed

Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:55 am
Posts: 11422
Location: Tyrn Gorthad
PostPosted: Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:43 pm 
 

Oh, it's not *THAT* bad. It will get more replays than 10,000 Days or Opiate, and maybe even Undertow. Nowhere near the classic status of Aenima or Lateralus, though, and based on how the band is operating in terms of songwriting, I doubt they ever will be again.
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Nolan_B wrote:
I've been punched in the face maybe 3 times in the past 6 months


GLOAMING - death/doom | COMA VOID - black/doom/post-rock

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BasqueStorm
The Wettest Blanket

Joined: Wed May 26, 2010 2:21 pm
Posts: 4688
Location: Turks and Caicos Islands
PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:50 am 
 

iamntbatman wrote:
Oh, it's not *THAT* bad. It will get more replays than 10,000 Days or Opiate, and maybe even Undertow. Nowhere near the classic status of Aenima or Lateralus, though, and based on how the band is operating in terms of songwriting, I doubt they ever will be again.

Yeah, I like all their albums but this yatus... Let's hope for, at least, another one.
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Grave_Wyrm
Metal Sloth

Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:55 pm
Posts: 3917
Location: Across the croggy plain
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:21 am 
 

Track by track. Dismissed.

I keep forgetting to listen to this album. What the hell is wrong with me.. I will respond to this report once I get off .. wait .. back on my ass and do so.

iamntbatman wrote:
All those plans fell through when I was hanging out with a friend over the weekend who turned it on in the car against my wishes.

Similarly, it came on when I was on a road trip in New England last month. Tool makes terrible radio music. It's not mixed for it. It's mixed for .. like .. surround sound stereos in sound-proofed hot tub outbuildings.
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InnesI
Metalhead

Joined: Sat Jun 01, 2013 3:19 pm
Posts: 1346
PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:35 am 
 

While I listen to the new album I think it's fine - I like it. But it really has nothing that draws me back in. It's been a couple of weeks now and I haven't listened to it once. That's not a good sign. I see two major and one minor problem with it. I think it lacks hooks. It's just not all that memorable once the music has actually stopped. And second, I do love how slow and methodically the music builds but I also think that the album generally misses that release or climax which is absolutely necessary if one is to build song in that way. The minor problem are the interludes. I don't mind interludes - I actually love interludes when used right. In this case however they do nothing for me. In this regard they remind me of the pointless in-between-tracks that Morbid Angel often uses :-/

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GTog
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:35 pm
Posts: 1075
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Oct 16, 2019 4:00 pm 
 

^Nailed it. It's interesting but not catchy. It's very Tool but not in a way that grabs you. The music builds and blends nicely but doesn't get to a powerful place. I found it ok.
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