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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Toronto Star

Date: September, 2001

Transcribed by
Barbara Goss (

  page: F3
 title: Too much prog, not enough rock
author: Ben Rayner

   Tool's brief tour with King Crimson this summer more or less made 
it official: Prog-rock hath returned, and woe to all who stand in its 
   While prog-lovin' contemporaries such as Radiohead and the late 
Smashing Pumpkins have taken pains to distance themselves from the 
Yes and Pink Floyd records tucked into their record shelves, Tool has 
always unashamedly worn its influences on its collective sleeve.  Or 
at least, on the gruesome bio-mechanical designs that adorn its album 
jackets and harrowing animated video clips.  At the same time, 
though, the Los Angeles-born quartet has absorbed enough metal over 
the years to understand that tricky time signatures, enigmatic song 
titles, a costumed frontman (actually, he'd painted a blue stripe 
over his face this night) and noodling all the way up your own behind 
in concert only cuts it for so long.  Every once in a while, you've 
got to unload.  And when Tool, which already proved a refreshing 
whiff of brimstone at the end of an otherwise dismal main-stage 
program during this year's cold and dreary Edgefest in Molson Park, 
unloads, you pay attention.
   Worryingly, last night's oft-mesmerizing but unwisely paced 
performance before around 15,000 faithful at the Air Canada Centre 
displayed signs that Tool's inner Genesis is beginning to crowd out 
the side of the band that would rather listen to Slayer.  
Concentrating mainly on the expansive, intricate "journey to the 
centre of your mind" musical set pieces from the band's sprawling new 
Lateralus album, the show wound up suffering from a bit too 
much "prog" and not enough "rock."
   Not that there wasn't rock.  Lateralus' mammoth "The Grudge" and 
the searing "Stinkfist," from 1996's Aenima, had testicles quaking - 
the female presence was nominal, to say the least - throughout the 
ACC early on in the 90-minute-plus set.  Things relented to a 
menacing simmer for much of the mid-section, however, as the band 
traded overt, riff-powered release for slowly crescendoing exercises 
in mood and snake-charming rhythms, uncorking its full might and 
shadowy frontman Maynard James Keenan's spine-tingling upper-register 
growl only in furious bursts.
   The average Tool fan is a charitable sort, willing to let the band 
indulge itself at great lengths while the promise of the cataclysm to 
come hangs, Tantric, in the air.  But there were hints that even the 
closeted Emerson, Lake and Palmer fans in the house weren't finding 
enough distraction in the typically top-notch video reels - giant 
eyeballs, sinewy nude forms running and spiralling like mercury, a 
gruesome loop from a haunted toilet in Hell - and Keenan's Jack 
Skellington prancing as the extended interludes carried past the 
halfway mark.  When a pair of contortionists decked out like the 
biological curiosities in the new "Schism" video scaled the backdrop 
to dangle eerily before flickering images of a crucifix, one 
desperate soul was heard to bellow across the bowl: "Just come back 
out and play some f---ing [sic] music!"
   When Tool finally let loose with Aenima's lacerating title track - 
a tribally pounding metal call to "flush" Los Angeles away whose 
throwaway "is this the end" line gained disturbing resonance in light 
of recent events - the ACC's energy level took a mercurial leap.  
Much more of that and people would have been ripping the seats out.  
But alas, there was only one more explosion, "Lateralus."  Tool's 
still a force to be reckoned with.  But again, less prog, more rock.

Posted to t.d.n: 09/19/01 20:27:25