HardReviews 5
by Martin Popoff

Tool - 10,000 Days
(Sony BMG)

Odd how these human mirages can go away for so long and then come back making the same arch-Tool music as if they're really about one long triple, quadruple, eminently editable album. Always gotta be different with the packaging, so this time we get stereoscopic lenses (which I can't get to work), wrapped hard and substantial around music that is the same. And you can add impenetrable without major investment to that, Tool creating dozens of their circular, swirling structures (loops, but for their proud and heavy manmade construction), not much logic to where one starts and stops. Just like the last record, I doubt - with the sun out and all and it getting warmer - I'm going to be crawling inside this finely engineered machine for a squinted examination of every bolt. And it doesn't help that Maynard emits hostility and the band as a brand, misanthropy. Lots and lots of drugged pictured go there too, and in dodgy stereo, but we're asked to work and work some more for the (not provided) lyrics, which will, upon further read, be haughty and enigmatic and just plain mean. Still, fact is, Tool have invented a sound all their own, which is commendable - this evil concentric post-prog prog metal thing, - and the drumming is a joy, the recording dripping in riches as well. Spaces are there, many bits (it's almost too much of a chore to dissect by song) riding on bass lines with guitar as expert (always expert - are Tool not red ribbon at anything?!) colourizing.
Rating 7.5

Ihsahn - The Adversary

Pre-release chatter from our serious man had this being an inviting mixed bag, but now that I hear it, Ihsahn's managed to take his many, highly creative ideas and make them work unified. Essentially what you get is Peccatum crossed with Emperor, stitched together by the occasional and brief prog metal tendencies of either of those that might be described as mainstreamy. Three other things chain Ihsahn to his considerable legacy as well. One is the busy drumming courtesy of Asgeir Mickelson (Borknagar, Spiral Architect), who often steals the show and yes, takes the sum total of this into mensa-metal Borknagar terrain often. Second are those vocals of the guy - throaty, dry, none too warm, none to laden with personality beyond a miasmic amoral depressive state with fog. Third, Ihsahn seems to be set on his unoiled steel-on-steel scrape come production time - the drums are clacky and twee, the guitars... struggling, bass - there is none. It's like everything is parched. To each his own, and that is certainly a unifying factor toward all that has come before. But it's the unity within the record that is the coolest thing here. Despite all of the guy's really cool metal ideas, he's managed to spread them around so everything works together uniform-on-average to create a strange world of grand, dark proginess, of an importance. And yet you still feel this is intimate on some level, a solo album, a loud contemplation by one guy with lots on his mind. It comes off as catharsis, not of pain, but a guy somewhat merrily getting work done, even if that work is almost as world-weary and cynical as that of his crosstown doppel Zyklon.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 6