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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: USA Today

Date: May, 2001

Transcribed by
Hank Jones (hankjay@hotmail.com)


  page: 
 title: They're just the right Tool for the thinking headbanger
author: 

   In the rock-metal game of survivor, Tool has the edge.
   The LA quartet, one of few heavy-rock outfits to outlast the '90s, 
tests its immunity against ejection from pop's in crowd with the 
mysterious and seductive "Lateralus" (3 1/2 stars out of 4). With 
Rage Against The Machine in limbo, Alice In Chains in tatters and 
Soundgarden in retirement, Tool is left to save prog-metal from 
extinction, a job it performs handily on this dark, electro-symphonic 
journey to self-discovery. The band's rabid cult following, 
established with 1992's "Opiate", remains intact and hungry, judging 
by sales of last year's Salival CD/DVD set (250,000 copies) and swift 
sellouts of four concerts this month. A Perfect Circle, singer 
Maynard James Keenean's side project, scored a hit last year 
with "Judith", further bulding anticipation. 
   Tool hammered out a niche with such bleak dirges as "Prison Sex" 
and "Stinkfist" and the desperate mantra "I am just a worthless 
liar." The mood brightens on "Lateralus", in which scientific 
concepts serve as metaphors for human bonding and bondage. A dense, 
rhythmic hum belies the optimism in the passionate "Parabola" and 
healing "Schism".
   Where he once name checked Carl Jung and Aleister Crowley, Keenan 
conjures his own instincts to wrestle demons. In the title tracks he 
yearns for the emotional openness "to weep like a widow, to fathom 
the power, to witness the beauty, to bathe in the fountain, to swing 
on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human." "The Grudge" 
preaches the wisdom of letting go: "Give away the stone/Let the 
waters kiss and transmutate this cold and fated anchor."
   Elements of Nine Inch Nails, Portishead, King Crimson and My 
Bloody Valentine inform Tool's precisely orchestrated industrial 
rock, yet "Lateralus" sounds remarkably original, due in large part 
to Keenan's agile voice, fragile and paranoid one moment, a 
despairing howl the next.
   The music likewise takes hairpin turns, demolishing formulas with 
shifting meters, digital noise and an erratic pulse that swerves from 
rushed to hushed.
   "Lateralus", the thinking headbanger's therapy, may not cure the 
metal illness rampant in mindless rap-rock, but it's sure to sharpen 
Tool's artistic reputation and shield its untarnished credibility.
   

Posted to t.d.n: 05/15/01 18:58:37