Some albums are so well-executed, so strong as a whole, that to break their songs up and discuss them individually is incredibly difficult. With a cohesive atmosphere and a handful of tracks that work with one another, 10,000 Days, the 2006 album by progressive-rock band Tool, is just such an album. In spite of this, and in spite of the fact that the track in question is one of the very tracks that is so complemented by another track on the album, the title track is so powerful and atmospheric that I think it merits an individual examination, as much as it can be explained without context.
Preceded by the much calmer and shorter “Wings For Marie (Part 1),” “10,000 Days (Wings Part 2)” is, as the title indicates, the sequel of sorts to that track. Both of them deal with the death of Judith Marie, the mother of Tool lead singer Maynard James Keenan. Prior to her death, she was paralyzed; it was 27 years, or approximately 10,000 days, from the time of her paralysis to her death, thus the origin of the title and track names.
As the grim bass line of the haunting track sets the tone, Keenan comes in with soft, deep vocals. With the progression of the track comes a slow, instrumental build, adding guitars and percussion, as well as rain and thunder ambience by Lustmord that really push the atmosphere of the song to an incredible point. Keenan’s vocals build throughout the progression of the track as well, increasing in pitch and volume and reaching a peak in the first section of the song as he proclaims (as an imagining of what his mother might say, given her lifelong faith in spite of what she endured) in one of the song’s most poignant moments, “It’s time now, my time now / Give me my, give me my wings!” The unnerving calm at the beginning of the song creates its own effective atmosphere, but as the intensity builds, it feels like, all along, the calm was just screaming emotion waiting for a release, and it makes for a truly powerful effect.
At over 11 minutes long, “10,000 Days” is a journey of extremes, from calm darkness to rising intensity, its overcast mood brought forth with extreme effectiveness through the sound of thunder and rain. If you find the track compelling in itself, I cannot emphasize enough how crucial it is that you listen to it within the context of the full album for the complete experience. But at the very least, I absolutely recommend giving this gloomy, atmospheric track a listen.