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A TOOL-Related Article

Publication: The Village Voice

Date: December 10, 1996.

Transcribed by MAUKA@BELMONT.EDU

[Just thought you might enjoy getting pissed off for a while. But don't 
read this if you're in a good mood. Save it til you're all mad anyway. 
James Hunter is a moron. I'm assuming you haven't already seen this. And 
I took out all the "only Marilyn Manson comments"'s long 
enough without them.]

 title: "Buuuuuuummmmmmed"
author: James Hunter

In a world of streamlined retail, stealthy e-mail, fussfree elections, 
and contured clothing, marilyn Manson and Tool are just garishly here. 

In the more serious and comic realms of deathly baroque rock, where black 
and white "parental advisory explicit content" stickers incite outrage 
and yawns, there are but two rock records right now: Marilyn Manson's 
Antichrist Superstar and Tool's Aenima. Both bands have clawed their 
ambitious ways up the ladder of success- from Florida, from California, 
both places with apparently just a little too much sunshine- and landed 
at levels of truly virtuosic studio craft. With vomit inducing videos and 
scabrous song titles, their albums debuted high on the Billboard charts, 
producing a sexy rattle, a kind of joyless teen buzz, even for people 
who'd not yet heard a note of either. In a world of streamlined retail, 
stealthy e-mail, fussfree elections, and contured clothing, they are just 
garishly here.

Marilyn Manson and Tool. They make popular music for people who would 
rather stuff rats down their throats than darken the door of the Hard 
Rock Cafe, peoplewho own both volumes of The Crow soundtrack and argue in 
online chat rooms aboutwhether White Zombie are mere bubblegum. This is 
not a vute or particularly content strain of rock: this is mass chic, 
upside down and buuuuumed. 

In fact, it's less like rock than hightech rage entertainment that makes 
use of rock. But that doesn't mean that the different handles marilyn 
Manson and Tool have on music aren't formidable for their purposes. Both 
groups work firmly in the post-Black Sabbath and AC/DC goth tradition, 
where it's crucial that everything sound so ominous no matter how 
unspectacular or slow or simple the writing is. As with their industrial 
brethren, it's not the guitar hooks and lines that matter; it's how a 
pile of combustible noises sounds once it catches fire.

On Aenima, Tool emerge as masters of framing the essential electrified 
wallops of hard rock. The first thing you hear on their opener, 
"Stinkfist," is a thickly compressed rhythmic spiral of unaccompanied 
pinging that gradually distorts before the band spins into a superheavy 
riff-driven 4/4. A7st Superstar leads with crowd noises that descend into 
"Irresponsible Hate Anthem,"a slightly futuristic arena valentine, 
"recorded live on February 14, 1997," according to the CD liner. As the 
verses stay close to the ground to let leather lunged singer marilyn 
Manson articulate all his destructive bile, the choruses cave into pure 
sound effect: one long vocal scream down some crumbling institutional 
hall, with the singer bellowing out every last shaking syllable ofthe 
words "FUCK IT." 

Tool have no such tendencies toward hyperliteracy. On Aenima, they in 
fact make an aesthetic virtue of verbal inarticulation. For long 
stretches of the album, singer Maynard James Keenan doesn't even sing, 
not in any conventional sense: his vocals are embedded deep in the mix, 
or choked, or whispered, or cloaked in technology. Keenan croons lyrics 
more like he wants you to understand the slow hell of their cumulative 
emotional effect, rather than their precise phraseby phrase meaning. With 
finely tuned rhythms working themselves out in equally painstaking sonic 
shades and weights of gray, the album has a frequently brilliant 
architecture, a junk Laocoon on taoe, romantic metal outbursts held at 
bay by classical design.

Whereas Tool present themselves as earnest seekers of blunt beauty, they 
aren;'texactly Marillion. Like Marilyn Manson, Tool create sarcastically 
from planet goth, but even someone unindined to join Antichrist 
Superstar's fan club can see that there's something remarkable about the 
intricacy of Marilyn Manson's insincere sincerity-not to mention their 
Sonic Youth sired theories and Phil Collins-sized stadiums, the whiz-bang 
sonics and shrunken pool ball eyes. So, it's likely especially since 
Marilyn Manson never misses an opportunity to appeal to the angry, 
misunderstood, the badly coiffed that there are genuinely convinced, let 
us say, young mansonites out there bending peoples' ears at 7-elevens 
nationwide about the ugly importance of it all. But what about the 
others: the more disgenuously convinced, who look at Planet Goth and see 
an ironic suburban teen's consumer paradise, who implor fans of any 
non-Manson music, "Don't you need some of this?" They understand: this is 
the biggest American joke going right now, during these (D-minor organ 
chord, sustained) unspeakable days of our threatened century. 


Ugh. Methinks this guy need to spend a little less time with his 
thesaurus and a little more time deciding what exactly his point is. 
Incidentally, I am VERY annoyed by the constant comparisons between Tool 
and Marilyn. Nothing against Marilyn, but they are totally different 
animals. Totally. And, I for one don't mind Maynards, um, "embedded" 
vocals. As a matter of fact, that's what attracted me in the first place. 
At first "show me that you love me and that we belong together" were the 
only words I could make out. But the "so, why does he sound like he's in 
so much pain?" question is what kept me around. There you go. I sent this 
to my best friend, and he replied: "What a stupid fucker. This guy 
listens to Boyz II Men." Heh.

kabir/akhtar | kabir@t.d.n