the tool page

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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: NME

Date: May, 2001

Transcribed by
Disinfectious (

Tool : Lateralus

Rick Wakeman would be proud Tool are clearly not a band 
afraid of their own gravitas. Name-dropped by nu-metallers, 
consistently cited as the most influential American group of 
the last ten years, they're big, they're quite clever, and don't 
they just know it. This LP took five years to make, lasts 76 
minutes and the most straightforward song title on it is 'Eon 
Blue Apocalypse'. Like, woah, dude. 

Tool's thing, basically, is progressive rock. Their music is 
highly structured, composed of loads of complex parts, has 
no choruses, no hooks, and no verses either, really. It 
doesn't sound like a particularly great prospect, all told - but 
in the world of metal, this is more evidence of Tool's great 
individuality. They don't appear in their own videos; their 
uncompromising stance is all. 

All admirable stuff, but it hasn't, in the past, helped Tool 
make any particularly good records. Their past two LPs 
(1993's 'Undertow' and '96's 'Aenima') used the same 
principles to make essentially blank, grey walls of noise. 
Somehow, mysteriously, 'Lateralus' has added a little more 
colour to their palette of chanting, drumming and high 
drama. Singer Maynard James Keenan has been unaffected 
by the comparative tunefulness of his side project A Perfect 
Circle, while the stripped-down nature of the instrumentation 
means that Tool's innate heaviness shines out in a world of 
production tricks and dodges. There's no trickery - Tool's 
progressiveness is all their own work. 

In this respect at least, they're the metal Radiohead. Though 
it's definitely a million times more metal than anything the 
Oxford miserablists have recorded, 'Lateralus' still easily 
contains the same amount of misery and self-obsessed 
navel-gazing. There's songs about crawling, dying, 
explosions, aliens and even one about 'Ticks And Leeches' to 
satisfy any craving for big, serious and grimy themes. And as 
America has taken Radiohead's work to heart, so it looks like 
they have with Tool, too. This LP has gone to the top of the 
US charts, beating Missy Elliott by 300,000 sales. 

The comparison holds thematically true as well. The 
single 'Schism' might be one of their most melodic pieces 
yet, but opening track 'The Grudge' sets the tone of grave 
menace that takes hold of the LP, yet which is not explained. 
There's a sense of something being deeply wrong, but it's 
not articulated. And that, rather than tunes, hooks, or even 
words, is the root of its addictive quality. 

[Review transcribed from - clearly the author is 
not hugely into Tool hence the apparent need to classify 
them (NME readers largely would not be into Tool or their ilk). 
Nonetheless the odd interesting point.]

Posted to t.d.n: 06/16/01 18:13:14