the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Seattle P-I

Date: August, 2001

Transcribed by
Shawn L. (

 title: Negativity rules in brutal sound of hellish Tool
author: Bill White

Negativity rules in brutal sound of hellish Tool; King Crimson 
still rocks 
Wednesday, August 8, 2001


"Wear the grudge like a crown of negativity," sang Maynard 
James Keenan at the beginning of Monday night's Tool 
concert at the Paramount Theatre.

One of the most popular and influential of today's alt-metal 
bands, Tool assailed the capacity audience with its themes of 
therapeutic negation for two brutal hours. A video monitor 
dominated the stage, upon which were displayed grotesque 
images of human suffering. 

Singer Keenan stood before a smaller screen that was set up 
next to the drums. His shadowed figure at times blended with 
the video action as he screamed, bellowed and crooned his 
way through the band's catalog.

From "Sober," the unexpected radio hit from 
1993's "Undertow," to the Eastern-flavored riffs 
of "Lateralus," Tools' best-selling current release, the band 
members confined themselves to inert poses while the 
audience focused on the video images.

The films, conceived in the main by guitarist Adam Jones, 
betrayed a fascination with the layers of veins, tissue and 
bone in the human body. His graphic designs are founded on 
the transparent diagrams of the various layers of human 
anatomy found in medical books. Much of it seems derived 
from Clive Barker's "Hellraiser" and the experimental films of 
the Brothers Quay.

As Justin Chancellor fingered his rhythmic, one-note bass 
lines, fleshy vegetables with pained human faces cavorted in 
agonized spasms. Tool's perspective on existence was further 
defined by images of creatures with maps of their insides 
painted onto their skin.

The capacity audience, which, due to alleged death threats 
against frontman Keenan, had submitted to extensive and 
humiliating search procedures to gain entrance to the concert, 
responded like a pasture of cows attempting to vomit in 

Keenan prefaced "Third Eye" by leading the crowd in his non-
conformist oath. The independent thinkers dutifully repeated 
aphorisms such as "never repeat what other people say," 
completely missing the irony of their compliance.

"Lateralus," Tool's latest recording, is exceptional in its clean 
sound and dynamic range. Live, the band limits itself to a full 
frontal sonic assault dominated by a monotonous bass 
boom. The result is an aural bilge best appreciated by those 
whose senses are depressed by the excessive intake of 

It is possible to construct a religious philosophy based on 
negativity, as evidenced by the works of visionaries like 
Hieronymus Bosch and Antonin Artaud. If Tool is to follow in 
such unholy yet hallowed footsteps, it could start by not 
conforming to accepted sound mixes that reduce intricate 
music to metallic sludge.

Openers King Crimson, while no longer in the forefront of 
amazing guitar innovation, still have a gorgeous sound. 
Although they have been around for more than 30 years, the 
prog rock maestros were anything but retro. Their mostly 
instrumental journeys brought a standing ovation from the 
youngish crowd.

Posted to t.d.n: 02/04/02 02:38:33