Publication: The Honolulu Advertiser
Date: November, 2001
page: 24 title: Tool Hammers Its Own Niche In Rockdom author: Derek Paiva They don't appear on their album covers or in their videos. They rarely grant interviews. They disappear within a self- designed kaleidoscopic cocoon of spacey color, lights and film on the concert stage. They rank an afternoon spent promoting their music on MTV's "Total Request Live"--which, they've never been on--just slightly behind a breakfast brunch in Dante's ninth circle of hell. It's even widely believed that a sizable portion of the 7 million record buyers who snatched up Tool's five albums don't even know what its members--lead singer Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, drummer Danny Carey and bassist Justin Chancellor--look like. Still, Tool has managed to survive beyond the Dead Sea of grunge rock it exploded from--but, to be fair, never really belonged--to carve its own real, though largely anonymous, niche in a music industry happy to market celebrity over substance. In fact, Tool may be the only band in the world that can claim a No. 1 album on the Billboard Album Chart-- as it did in May with 550,000 in first-week sales for "Lateralus"--and still be considered by its fans as fiercely underground. The collection of music genres that the rock press has been only too willing to anoint Tool as saviors of--rock, punk, metal, Goth, progressive, art rock, among them--could easily fill several Tower Records music sections. Take the 77-minute suite for the disenchanted that is "Lateralus," and its aurally demanding melange of wacked- out sonic wanderings, lumbering instrumental breaks and intellectually lyrical rage, which rewards return listeners in ways that mildly entertaining bands like Limp Bizkit and Staind could only dream of. "The Grudge" and "Schism" flow like twin episodes of the same psychotic Goth soap opera, with Adam Jones' snaky riffing taking down every overwrought solo guitar cliche ever written. As with Tool's 2.4 million-selling 1996 release "Ænima," '70's era drumming and artfully intellectual phrasing are reminiscent of group influences. Yes, Pink Floyd and (though they'd probably never admit it) Led Zeppelin are all over Lateralus," particularly in the detached and dreamy cool of "The Patient" and "Disposition." Still, as good as it is, "Lateralus" leaves one wishing the band would gather its fertile and creative lyrical smarts and move a bit beyond its gloriously radio unfriendly, but increasingly repetitive, structural modus operandi of the last decade. Perhaps offering up its own truly groundbreaking "Nevermind" or "Exile on Main Street." In other words, a much needed tonic to music's dreary post- millennial "Now That's What I Call Music"-littered landscape. Oh, well, maybe next time. Tool formed in 1990, with bassist Paul D'Amour, who departed in 1995) first taking its slavishly composed tugrid would-be-post-punk/metallic/prog rock masterworks around Los Angeles the following year, while working day jobs. After releasing the seven-track EP "Opiate" to scattered notoriety in 1992, Tool's audience exploded with the release of the first full-length album "Undertow" in 1993, thanks, in large part, to a trippy ground-breaking stop-action animated video for "Sober," directed by guitarist Jones. A former special effects designer on films such as "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" and "Jurassic Park," Jones won two MTV Video Awards for the "Sober" clip. With the video in heavy rotation on MTV and "Sober" a mainstay of then-grunge- dominated alternative rock radio, "Undertow" went platinum in August 1994. An international touring binge that included 1993's Lollapalooza Tour culminated with the release of "Ænima," which made its debut at No. 2 on Billboard's album chart in 1996. Sidelined by lengthy legal battles over contractual negotiations with then-label Zoo Entertainment and its own management company, the band took more than five years to release 2001's "Lateralus." The interim saw the release of a two-disc CD/DVD package of Tool videos, and live and unreleased tracks titled "Salival," and the debut CD of Kennan side project A Perfect Circle, whose "Mer de Noms" made its debut on Billboard's album chart at No. 4, eventually selling more than a million units. Tool's third leg of touring for "Lateralus" wraps up with tomorrow's concert at Andrews Outdoor Theatre, following a Thursday show at Washington's Tacoma Dome. The Saturday show--Tool's first-ever Hawai'i concert appearence-- was a near-sell-out as TGIF was going to press. Promoter Goldenvoice said Tool would be bringing all the accoutrements of its Mainland touring show to Honolulu, including a concert-spanning Pink Floyd-ish multimedia program of experimental film, swirling light and colorful visuals designed by the band. "(The show is" a bombardment of the senses," Chancellor said last month in the Miami Herald. "The stage setup is very much focused on giving people a real sensory experience--not just with the sounds but the visuals as well. It kind of bleeds away from the individual people. We're just there, kind of creating the background music. "It's pretty trippy."
Posted to t.d.n: 11/09/01 16:54:01