the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: The Buffalo News

Date: August, 2002

Transcribed by
John McLean (

 title: Tool Hammers Home a Message
author: Jeff Miers

News Pop Music Critic
(picture of Adam playing)

I guess I shouldn't have watched that 3 1/2-hour 
documentary on the life and art of director Stanley Kubrick on 
Thursday night. 
If I knew exactly what I was in for Friday night, I might've 
thought twice. 

After all, the fabled director made a career of dashing 
audience expectations, ignoring public fancies and sounding 
the depths in search of the dark heart of his art. Near the 
end of the documentary, it is suggested by a number of 
those close to Kubrick that the man loved people, but truly 
disliked humankind. He knew life was hard, man was 
conflicted, fickle and flawed, and death imminent. Instead of 
complaining about it, he made movies that, he felt, aspired 
to the best man could be. He used his art in an attempt to 

The same could be said of the Los Angeles progressive metal 
quartet Tool. 

For those used to the arena-metal/rap preening, shucking 
and jiving of most rock acts that have emerged over the past 
decade, Tool in concert might be an upsetting experience. 
You'll get none of that "rock star trip" nonsense here, Junior. 
Tool's is a show with a message, and it's a message not 
unlike Kubrick's: Life is short and fraught with unspeakable 
despair and moral compromise. So deal with it. 

Friday night, Tool - vocalist Maynard James Keenan, 
drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones and bassist 
Justin Chancellor - offered a three-quarters-full HSBC Arena a 
tour through what, at first glimpse, seemed a tortured 
subconscious, but upon further examination appeared to be 
an optimistic metaphysics. 

Indeed, after a two-hour show that blended visceral prog-
metal, spacey segues and often-gorgeous dynamic interplay, 
Keenan - an astounding, virtuosic singer whose note-perfect 
renderings bordered on some sort of twisted classical 
presentation - addressed the crowd for the first time. 

"Thank you for sharing this moment with us," he said. "We 
hope, whatever feeling this evening brought forth in you, that 
in the coming days, in the coming weeks, in the coming 
months, in the coming years, you use it to do something 
positive with." 

Surprising, maybe, following a concert wherein Keenan stayed 
in the rear on an unlighted platform adjacent to Carey's drum 
set, with his back to the crowd for most of the evening. But 
then, Tool has always been a band adept at manipulating a 
blend of high drama, light and shade. The songs may grind, 
shimmer and slither through complex time signatures, 
reflective middle sections and powerhouse crescendoes, but 
at the heart of it all, Keenan's lyrics smack of turn-of-the-
century romanticism and metaphysical poetry. 

There's nothing else like Tool currently presenting itself as 
modern hard rock. The band truly stands alone. 

Friday night's show centered on song cycles from the band's 
Grammy-winning "Lateralus" album, and that was a good 
thing. That album set the standard for metal-based rock to 
follow, and hinted that the music needn't dabble in rap and 
hip-hop in order to move forward in a meaningful way. 

"Sober," "Grudge," "Stinkfish," "Schism," "Parabol/Parabola," "
Aenima," "Disposition," "Reflection" and "Lateralus" were 
impeccably performed and dramatically presented with the 
aid of two large video screens framing the stage and offering 
mini-movies created by guitarist Jones. 

This was high-theater, high-drama, high-decibel high art that 
echoed Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath and - dare we say it - 
Rush, blending them all into a singular fluid. It went down 
strong, but yeah, it definitely hit the spot. 

Now, if I could only get those images of Kubrick's gorgeously 
twisted films out of my head.


Posted to t.d.n: 08/27/02 22:44:26