the tool page

toolshed.down.net

rediscover communication

This site is now an archive; it is no longer being updated. See here and here for details.

ARTICLES

select a year

The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Pi: University of London Magazine

Date: May, 2001

Transcribed by
Toolfan in London (collegeben@hotmail.com)


  page: 12
 title: New Releases - Genre: Grindcore, Band: Tool
author: Ben Schachtman

  If you peel back enough layers, you will find something redeeming. 
This could very well be Tool's mantra of excavational psychology, and 
it is true enough in London. If you dig through Chris Evans tyranny 
of powder-pop, and continue down through the layers of thoughtless 
garage and quasi-house, down past indie-rock self-adoration, you will 
find the minging core of the human psyche. Or, to put it less 
ostentatiously, there are more Tool fans than you'd except in London. 

 Less likely the result of a nationalistic affection for British-
borne bassist Justin Chancellor or nostalgia for semi-underground 
favorite Peach, Tool’s popularity rests firmly on the integrity and 
(perhaps more importantly) humour of Tool’s works. Although their 
initial outing was quickly shelved either next to political-rock-rap 
masters Rage Against the Machine or drunken-redneck metal ‘gods’ 
Pantera, many saw through the façade of buzzsaw guitar tones and 
Carey’s pyschopathic double bass drumming. Awarded the ridiculous 
titles of “grindcore” and “death metal” by a lazy U.S. music press, 
Tool did put up an impressive metallic front, but left hints of their 
loftier aspirations with the dreamy chorus of the opener “Sweat”, 
which was embarrassingly relegated to the Escape From L.A. 
Soundtrack. With the closer (yes, we are ignoring the “Gaping Lotus 
Experience”, but that’s our prerogative) Tool left the general 
impression that they would be back, if only to free themselves from 
the “grindcore” section in the Virgin Megastore. 

	Undertow, an ethereal and original work, helped slowly 
extricate Tool from the “grindcore” bin (honestly though, who the 
fuck thought up ‘grindcore’? It either takes bollocks of steel or 
brains of concrete). Tool fans don’t need the album described to 
them, and for the uninitiated nothing would describe it aptly, 
suffice to say, anyone who was getting tired of Metallica’s odes to 
H.P. Lovecraft characters found a welcome rubber-hose up the psyche 
in this album. It should be added that the extendedly odd 
finale, “disgustipated”, found on track 69 (clever Yankees), is 
arguably the funniest thing ever put to CD. Of special note to the 
rock world: Adam Jones thought of drop-B tuning for the droning verse 
and brutally low chorus of “Prison Sex” long before Munky and Head 
even considered it. Also, Tool let the occasionally brilliant Henry 
Rollins flex his muscular spoken word presence on “Bottom”. Show me 
another “grindcore” band with spoken word poetry and I’ll swim the 
Thames for you. Tool took the “Undertow” album on tour with a 
genuinely inspired live-show (occasionally handing off Henry’s spoken 
word duties to Zack de la Rocha, who had likewise invited singer 
Maynard James Keenan to add his talents to “Know Your Enemy”). 

	Aenima, the album a thousand DJs couldn’t pronounce, found 
Tool leaving the so called “nu-metal” (seriously, they must not pay 
the American music press, because we can’t imagine paying someone to 
invent ‘nu’-metal) with the furious ‘fuck-off’ of “Hooker with a 
Penis” thrown over their shoulder. With massive arrangements of what 
could arguably be called art-rock and even-more-indulgent interludes, 
Aenima was a contradiction. A massively talented work that dared you 
to enjoy it, understand it, or pronounce it. For those in the 
diminishing hard-rock fan base who could get their heads around 
Aenima, it was well worth the effort. Eventually critics, even the 
notoriously star-fucking Spin Magazine, came around and lavished 
considerably overdue praise of Tool, who all but disappeared into a 
avalanche of legal troubles and (how dare they) private lives and 
side projects.

	The patient fans put Aenima in heavy rotation and decided to 
spent the next five years deciphering it, while the more eager 
tripped over pranks and April fool’s jokes, believing that Floorpail 
(that’s right, April Fool) would be the next single, grieving when 
Tool died in a bus crash, and waiting around for four years to hear 
the supposedly twenty minute studio recording of Led Zeppelin’s “No 
Quarter.” Finally rewarded this Christmas, Tool eventually decided to 
briefly resurface to release “Salival”, a small but potent collection 
of odds and ends for the faithful to chew on until they came around 
to where they are now.

[Note from Kabir - Nice of them mentioning TWO toolshed April Fools' gags]

	Now is the moment we’ve all waited for. Having triumphed 
their legal woes, dodged the bubonic breakup plague that swept the 
alternative rock scene, and apparently ten times wiser for the wear, 
Tool has prepared to drop “Lateralus” (no, it won’t be called Maynard 
Sings Pavoratti, The Mental Fuckwithage Project, or something in 
Sumarian, but then again if you thought Tool was going to 
release “Buzz’s Revenge” as the first single, you might still be 
looking for new releases in the “grindcore” bin) on the world.

	By a blessed twist of commercialistic fate, the U.K. will 
receive our dose of Tool a day before the States, and the appetites 
are more than whet. The first single, greedily grasped off file-
sharing programs by fans who wouldn’t wait three more days for the 
official website to stream it online, gives us a taste of what is on 
the new orb from the Tool mothership.

	“Schism” starts with a Justin Chancellor noodle, and quickly 
gets picked up by the whole band, who latch onto it’s quirky as all 
get-out time signature until they can pry a face-crushing riff out of 
it. Then there is the obligatory but never the less effective 
breakdown, which finds Tool in another, equally quirky time signature 
and forces the listener to wait until the last thirty seconds for the 
violently propulsive and entertainingly cathartic ending, which 
builds so much momentum its impressive Tool managed to stop at all, 
much less on a sixpence.

	Now, less we be accused of praising only Chancellor, (though 
he went under praised for his work on Aenima, having stepped in half 
way through the writing) Tool’s guitar tour-de-force is executed by 
Adam Jones, who has fattened his guitar sound even more and tweaked 
his tones to keep Tool fans slightly unnerved and thoroughly 
addicted. Riff junkies will get their fixes right up front 
on “Lateralus”, but those who stay for the subtle and brooding guitar 
work will be genuinely rewarded. You won’t be humming these tunes, 
unless you can handle Arabic minor runs in odd tempos (if you can, 
you could make a killing busking, I guarantee it), but you will be 
sweating like a smack junkie for another listen shortly after hearing 
them. 

   Singer Maynard has, in our humble opinion, come into his own 
on Lateralus. His outing with A Perfect Circle (no, that wasn’t Tool 
doing “Judith”) provided a lot of more emotive singing, but Tool has 
been moving in that direction even without Billy Howerdel's 
influence. Anyone who has heard their awe-inspiring live “Pushit” 
(which on its own Salival is worth buying for) could see a band 
becoming more and more emotionally as well as musically potent. And 
many would have our heads if we exempted Drummer Carey from our 
scathing praise. Truth be told, Carey is as ever masterful. Whereas 
fellow disciple of the polyrhythmic dojo Carter Beauford (whose 
amazing talent is venerable no matter what you think of the band, 
trust us) opted for four-on-the-floor simplicity as Dave Matthew’s 
Band rose to fame, Carey has taken the chance to push the envelope, 
playing with, and indeed outside, the very conceptions of modern 
drumming. (A good friend of ours at Pi offered the following 
comment: “He’s a prick, a fucking sod, an arse, he’s a fucking 
irritating bastard,” and after a long thoughtful pause, “I love that 
man, he’s my god.” We didn’t show him the demo tape, because we 
didn’t want him to quit drumming forever, but we can’t hide Carey’s 
amazing skills forever).

    	Pi got our hands on this dub-of-a-dub-of-a-dub copy 
previously owed by an editor (who shall go unnamed, but his 
notoriously bad Snooker skills cost him this gem…that’s a hint if you 
know him) at Kerrang! – and we decided not to review it for you. 
Lateralus will be out very soon ladies and gentleman, and there are 
more than enough prick-tease pre-reviews of Lateralus for our tastes 
without adding another to the pyre. In addition, we are greatly 
concerned for our own reputation, lest we accidentally add something 
of the ridiculous character of “grindcore” to the music critic’s 
lexicon. Thusly, we offer this summation by the numbers.
	
1)	Tool, as a band, are a fabulously talented and cohesive group 
who have made an international multimillion dollar industry out of 
thinking first and recording second, a bite to eat for the minds of 
would-be nu-metal rockers out there.
2)	Despite this talent, its not how big Carey’s gong is (though 
it is huge), or what brand bass Justin plays (it is a custom Wal four 
string, in case you think we don’t know) or which pedal Adam is using 
to make that noise (our guesss, Digi-tech whammy pedal with some 
subtle wah) or where Maynard got that mask (from a college production 
of Phantom of the Opera) – it is what they do with it that matters, a 
second serving for the speed + volume = quality school of music 
(Pantera, we’re looking at you).
3)	There really is a lot that you could learn, if you were to 
put aside anything else you believe and just listen to them.
4)	Lateralus is the most challenging thing you will listen to 
for a long time, and it is very likely it will take a while to reach 
you, give it time, give it a change, don’t except Papa Roach (for 
those of you who think that they didn’t steal the “Last Resort” riff 
from Green Day’s “Brain Stew”, gratuitous bollocks to you) and you 
might stand a chance. Also, don’t trip by yourself in a dark room to 
this album, we had first-year try this with the “Schism” single 
alone, and now he speaks in tongues, Babylonian actually…

But most importantly, always remember that when Tool has finally 
reached right across the cosmos and touched your psyche with a 
perfectly crafted magnum opus, when they’ve finally distilled for you 
the very essence of the pure emotion that all humans share and put it 
across to you irrefutably and with devastating power and finesse, 
when you are sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that Maynard James 
Keenan is exactly right about everything and would make an excellent 
Gubernatorial candidate for California, and you get your four hundred 
greenbacks and go to get the “Lateralus” artwork tattooed across your 
forehead, when you have come fully and happily into the church of 
Tool, remember:

5)	They’re taking the piss.

Having said that, they are still outstanding musicians and performers 
(and comedians too). There are plenty of people in Tool’s footsteps, 
and plenty of them are quite talented, we look to the Deftones for a 
clear example of Tool’s beneficial influence of the rock world. 
However, no one does it better than Tool, and Tool has never done it 
better than with “Lateralus”, which we’ll get our hands on one day 
before the poor sods in the colonies on May 14th. 	


Posted to t.d.n: 05/06/01 18:56:33