In the Shadows, A Tool concert Review ~ Very rarely does one go to a Rock concert and have the very idea of existence questioned. A performance so strong that it moves your bones, not just your average gig but an ideal, a whole way of thinking. Tool performed Monday for a sold out crowd at the Saddledome an blew our polite Canadian asses away. To sum it up in one word; unconventional. The stage set up goes against all gigs ever, Maynard in the back shadows like the unseen beating heart, only to emerge under a pool of ever-changing psychedelic light later in the set. The other musicians out in front creating a nervous system(Danny), circulatory system(Justin), and external skin(Adam), keeping in step with Alex Gray's Sacred Mirrors that unfurled from the roof later in the set. Focused on their craft I had no idea of how tight tool actually are, powering through their set with a chilling skill and prowess. A smoky cloud of irony was served up as the band took the stage and launched into Sober, as smoke drifted into the dome. Although Maynard and the boys may deliver a somewhat Satanist point of view, lets not forget the message. "Take away with you what you have experienced here tonight and do something positive with it". In the end is that not what rock and roll is all about, feeling good, shucking the systems that mold us, and whenever possible questioning the powers that be. Well in tool's case all they are saying is open your eyes people, and yes question your religion, because there might just be a god in you. Oh yes, I cant forget that drum solo with the "Resident Psychic" best drum solo ever. Nice work! Jay October 5 2002
Album Review - Lateralus
Approaching Tool's LATERALUS with a casual ear would be a careless endeavor, to say the least. The sheer magnitude of the musical and emotional textures is as heady as it is primal. Standing out as one of the defining traits of the Tool sound is Justin Chancellor's hauntingly melodic bass playing, which often launches into a role reversal with the mountainous guitar work of Adam Jones. The best examples of said phenomenon are found in "The Grudge" and "Reflection." Drummer Danny Carey slips easily into the pocket, fearlessly tackling odd time signatures and tasty percussion like few contemporary metal percussionists (best evidenced in "The Patient.") Lyrically, LATERALUS crawls through the cerebral catacombs of vocalist Maynard James Keenan, exploring themes such as the fallout from failed communication ("Schism") and clutching to past pain in a desperate attempt at control ("Grudge"). LATERALUS is yet another art-metal tour de force displaying the collective mastery of Tool.
Album Review - Salival
A delay-effected excerpt from Timothy Leary's "How To Operate Your Brain" sets the tone for this holding action for fans eagerly awaiting AENIMA's follow-up. SALIVAL teases with some powerful live performances (OPIATE's "Part Of Me" and the experimental version of AENIMA's "Pushit" are standouts) and a few tasty B-sides. Bassist Justin Chancellor brings Peach's "You Lied" into the fray for "re-Tooling." The sole new track is the trippy "Merkaba." Only a band as expressive as Tool could tap into the dark, moody atmosphere of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" and take the song to emotional levels that Page and Plant never would have imagined. The song is completely transmogrified, much in the spirit of Rage Against The Machine's interpretation of Bruce Springsteen's "The Ghost Of Tom Joad." The mind-bending soundscape of "L.A. Municipal Court" finds atonal, droning instrumentation accompanying a person trying to navigate the dead-ended maze of an automated phone system. Fans are ultimately rewarded with the hidden track "Maynard's Dick," which dates back to the OPIATE era.
Album Review - AEnima
AENIMA was nominated for a 1997 Grammy Award for Best Recording Package. "Aenima" won the 1998 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance. On its second full-length album, this hard-rocking quartet delivers 15 tracks of unrelenting aggression and focused intensity. Rather than overwhelm with huge sonic washes of guitar and booming drums, Tool employs a propulsive, snaky approach that makes use of undulating rhythms and clipped, percussive guitar riffs. Maynard James Keenan's vocals follow suit, opting for a heavily processed slow burn instead of the post-grunge bellow favored by so many hard-rock bands. Instead of flailing uncontrollably in all directions, the group's raw, energetic sound is tightly directed for maximum impact. On songs like "Stinkfist," Keenan rails against injustice while the band churns mercilessly behind him. There is very little humor or light in Tool's worldview (except for song titles like "Hooker With A Penis"); these are songs of painstakingly articulated angst, and they are delivered in an earnest, deadpan manner. These fierce rockers are dead set on making their point, and make it they do, with all the bloodshed and carnage that entails.
Album Review - Undertow
UNDERTOW is an example of nimble heavy metal in the angtsy/artsy tradition of Jane's Addiction. Tool favors medium tempos, which gives several of the group's songs a modern-day Black Sabbath feel, but fortunately lead singer Maynard James mostly steers clear of the usual quasi-operatic yowling favored by most metal frontmen--he's a remarkably expressive singer in a genre not usually so noted. As for the band's world-view, it's pretty much summed up in the unsentimentally named "Prison Sex": "Do unto others, what has been done to you."
Album Review - Opiate
Back in the early months of 1992, alternative rock was exploding. Radio and MTV had finally fully embraced the oft-dismissed genre, but the bands that were receiving most of the airplay were writing straightforward, raw punk-pop songs. After the breakup of Jane's Addiction, another Los Angeles band, Tool, satisfied fans looking for progressive art-rock with an alternative edge. Issued in March of 1992, Tool's debut six-track OPIATE EP showed that the new band was creating its own highly original sound. Half of the songs stretched over the four-minute mark, which signaled the epic-songwriting direction the band would explore further on such future releases as 1993's UNDERTOW and 1996's AENIMA. While the compositions on the debut aren't as developed as those on the aforementioned albums, OPIATE remains a gripping listen. Four studio tracks are featured ("Sweat," "Hush," "Part of Me," and the title track), as well as a pair of tracks recorded live at the Jello Loft in Hollywood, California, on New Year's Eve of 1991 ("Cold and Ugly," "Jerk Off"). Most of Tool's now instantly recognizable musical traits, like Maynard James Keenan's perturbed singing and guitarist Adam Jones' repetitive guitar riffs, were already noticeable on OPIATE.