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ARTICLES

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Sydney Morning Herald

Date: April, 2000

Transcribed by
Paul Bamman (luapb@hotmail.com)


  page: 13
 title: Heavier brand of metal dumps the usual grunt
author: Bernard Zuel

Tool - Entertainment Centre, April 24

The audience are predominantly male, with clothing in 
various shades of black. They leap into the air with clenched 
fists and surge forwards and back in unison.

Behind the band, video screens show striking images, 
pulsating in time with the we-don't-dance-for-no-one rhythm. 
And the volume is extreme: there are rib-rattling bass, throat-
clutching drums and a guitar that peels your eyeballs.

So far, so metal ... and you could probably write the rest of 
the review yourself: lots of thunderbolt and lightning, very, 
very frightening etc.

But wait, it's not that straightforward. Let's start with the big 
screens. Normally metal bands will use these to throw up 
conventional footage of war or speed or damage. They don't 
say anything except maybe "urgh, life stinks" or "faster 
pussycat kill kill kill".

But Tool are confronting in their artistic intent and their 
images go from liquid sky and bodies moving through water 
to jerky callisthenics and scientific neutrality and then shift 
into challenging (you could say stomach churning) footage 
including a woman's finger moving under a man's eyelid and 
silent screams.

It's often very disturbing but you can't break down their 
message into something to put on the tour T-shirt; 
sometimes you can't understand it at all. But who said you 
have to understand everything?

Then there's the music. Along with an obvious debt to Black 
Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult and early Metallica, there are 
elements of prog kings King Crimson and even art punks 
Pere Ubu, and that's something you won't find in the 
clodhopping thump and whine of what passes for metal these 
days in the likes of Korn, Limp Bizkit and their acolytes.

Time signatures shift, tone rises and falls, nuggets of beauty 
can just be discerned deeply buried and the song structures 
reveal themselves to be complex but effortless. 

Even though after an hour - halfway through the concert - I 
was already exhausted from the physical and mental 
pummelling (is it possible to get colonic concussion?), it had 
become clear how else Tool were different: there is no 
aggression.

Tool don't lack for force and drive: as I said earlier, this was 
loud, very loud and the rolling waves of drums and bass are 
relentless. And Maynard James Keenan isn't exactly 
celebrating love and marriage, horse and carriage when he 
sings.

But lyrically and musically this isn't easy teen angst 
packaging. There is no call to arms, no celebration of poor 
benighted "us" against the bastard "them". It's all more 
intelligent, more demanding than that.

Posted to t.d.n: 04/29/02 00:28:10