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Poll Results: Your Top 15 Tool Songs

As you may recall, a little while back I went through all of the Tool studio albums. Then I threw up a poll, asking for your Top 15 Tool Songs.

The most votes any song received was 3. So, if you want the Top 15, just include all songs that received either 3 or 2 votes. It’s an impressive list!

Some of the songs that only received one vote (I feel) ought to be in the Top 15, but this is the beauty of polling, isn’t it! The KMA Readers have spoken!

The Results:

3 Votes (7):

Prison Sex
Sober
Stinkfist
Forty-Six & 2
Ænema
Schism
Vicarious

2 Votes (8):

Undertow
Disgustipated
Eulogy
Hooker With A Penis
The Grudge
Parabola
Ticks And Leeches
Lateralus

1 Vote (17):

Hush
Opiate
Intolerance
Bottom
Crawl Away
Swamp Song

Flood
H.
Parabol
Disposition
Reflection
Triad
Faaip de Oiad
Jambi
10,000 Days (Wings Pt.2)
The Pot

0 Votes (24):

Sweat
Part Of Me
Cold And Ugly (live)
Jerk-Off (live)
The Gaping Lotus Experience
Useful Idiot
Message To Harry Manback
Intermission
Jimmy
Die Eier Von Satan
Pushit
Cesaro Summability
(-) Ions
Third Eye
Eon Blue Apocalypse
The Patient
Mantra
Wings For Marie (Pt.1)
Lipan Conjuring
Lost Keys (Blame Hoffman)
Rosetta Stoned
Intension
Right In Two
Viginti Tres

In Sum:

Plain and simple: Tool rocks.

This has been a fun exercise. Though I know not all of you could easily list favourite tracks, I hope you were at least able to vote for a few… Thanks to all those who voted, and thanks for Reading!

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Poll: Your Top 15 Tool Songs

It wasn’t so long ago that I did a run-through of all the Tool albums, in these pages. As always, it was an amazing, mind-expanding and heavy-as-hell time.

Throughout, it seemed most people had definite opinions about their favourite albums and, perhaps even more so, songs… so why not put it to a poll!

Below, I’ve included all four Tool studio albums, as well as the EP. There’s other stuff, I know, but this oughta give us the main stuff from which to choose, eh? Yah!

Just pretend you’re making your Ultimate Tool mix CDr…

Choose your Top 15 Tool Tracks! Give ‘er!

Tool – 10,000 Days

I already covered this album, waaaaaaaaay back on May 22, 2007. Damn, we’ve been blogging a long time.

Anyway, we were going to see the 10,000 Days show in Hamilton, and I was a wee bit excited about it. I fell into hyperbole for a minute there, but for those of you who missed it the first time around, YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.

More interestingly, here is the set list of the show we saw:

Tool, Copps Coliseum 2007-07-09
Jambi (10,000 Days)
Stinkfist (Ænima)
Forty-Six & 2 (Ænima)
Schism (Lateralus)
Lost Keys (Blame Hoffman) (10,000 Days)
Rosetta Stoned (10,000 Days)
Flood* (Undertow)
Wings For Marie (Pt.1) (10,000 Days)
10,000 Days (Wings, Pt.2) (10,000 Days)
Lateralus (Lateralus)
Vicarious (10,000 Days)

Damn! That was a great set. Super-cool that we got to hear both parts of Wings! I REVIEWED THE SHOW HERE.

* Included Kids In The Hall’s ‘Some Days It’s Dark’ by Death Lurks in the middle of it…

Update: At the time, opening act, Big Business, had not impressed me much (as indicated in that concert review), so I didn’t bother to look them up. Research now tells me it was actually Jared Warren and Coady Willis, who had become members of the Melvins not long before this gig. You can read about them HERE.

***

Here’s what Wiki says about the album title 10,000 days:

The title 10,000 Days refers to roughly the orbital period of the planet Saturn (actual time period is 10,759 days), which adds up to nearly 29 years and marks, according to Keenan, “the time when you are presented the opportunity to transform from whatever your hang-ups were before to let the light of knowledge and experience lighten your load, so to speak, and let go of old patterns and embrace a new life.” Keenan expected that the songs composed would “chronicle that process, hoping that my gift back would be to share that path and hope that I could help somebody get past that spot.” It is rumoured that the album is a reference to Maynard James Keenan’s mother who was paralyzed for 10,000 days (27 years) before she died.

So. Let’s go through the album in these pages again, 9 years later, shall we? YES WE SHALL!

Vicarious is the lead off track and the first single. Another perfect Tool song, all the technical ability, the heavy-as-fuck riffing, the rumbling bass, the pounding drums, the vocals right there… Just a huge track, all over. That ending is crazy!

Jambi is up next (it was the third single). It’s slinky and heavy, like the best Tool always is, and when it achieves culmination, it’s on par with anything else here – which is another way of saying it kicks fucking ass. The talk box guitar solo is fun. Try not to think of Bon Jovi! Haha. No worries there.

And then we have Wings For Marie (Part 1) and 10,000 Days (Wings Part 2). For me, this is some of the best work Tool has ever done. What a cycle, this is damn near perfect. Wings For Marie acts as intro, but even then is a full song on its own, gently leading us on but with that menace underneath… then 10,000 Days rolls in on bass guitar and a thunderstorm, as the band throbs, the rain storm picks up. Oh man this is brilliant. It builds and builds and builds as it tells its story, the drums pounding and rolling, the guitar soaring and cutting while the bass does calisthentics… well after 8 minutes it becomes a full-on rock out, but by now this is expected, as it would mirror the storm. This is not just songwriting, this is art of the highest order.

The Pot was the second single, and it’s another Tool corker. The restless riffing, the drums pounding your skull, the utter heaviness of it all. Fan-freaking-tastic track.

Lipan Conjuring sounds like a field-worker’s chant, complete with chains rattling. Haunting as hell.

Lost Keys (Blame Hoffman) is some repeating guitar lines and some electronic noises. Then there’s a conversation between nurse and doctor while someone heavy breathes… then the doctor speaks to the unknown patient as they exhale (for the last time?)…

Rosetta Stoned sounds like it came off Ænima, all muscle and aggression and huge riffs, screaming vocals and anger. Those guitars are hypnotic. What a huge sound. That riff at the end is just awesome.

Intension starts off with what sounds like sifting through metal shards with a shovel, then minimal music while voices whisper… there’s some chanting vocals and bongo drums. The guitar noodles a bit. Eventually it becomes more skittery and the vocals sing-chant some more but it stays soft, stays low… which leads into…

Right In Two starts off gentle, humans confused by free will and how the monkeys survive to evolve… there’s something almost Pink Floyd-ish about this intro, musically, though. Of course, it becomes Tool soon enough, and then boom! Big washing riffing guitars for a minute before it goes back to bongo drums and a riff that builds until the real aggression hits around 5:20 or so … Jeez, what a work-out! Great track.

And finally it’s Viginti Tres, the intro for which is odd noises that might be a spaceship hovering and landing, or something, I don’t know. The noise builds, maybe a take-off or a powering up, and odd hissing noises… honestly, a weird way to end an album. An exercise in making us listen to 5:03 of noise. I’m sure it’s part of the artistic vision of the album, but for those who want tunes, that ended on the previous track.

In Sum:

I love 10,000 Days. As a whole, it’s an incredible record. Tool seemed to spring fully-formed from the get-go, but incredibly they seem to just get even better and better as they go along, embracing their creativity and fearlessly trying to capture everything they can as perfectly as possible. This is a completely mature record, and only one band could have made it just like this.

 

I’m completely happy that we got to see the play on this tour. Shame we’ve waited ten years (now) for another album…

Tool – Lateralus

So here comes Tool’s third record. It took four years to create and release this 78:51 of bloody bliss.

Allegedly, the title is a combines ‘vastus lateralis’ (a leg muscle) and ‘lateral thinking.’ 

All set? Of course you are!

The Grudge starts us off with what sounds like an old film projector starting up. Then we’re rocketed straight into one of those twisty, powerful Tool riffs and we know what time it is! Once again, it’s restlessly all over the place, at times quiet, at others pounding and full-on howl. There’s a point where Maynard holds a note, full scream, for so long that you think he must surely have passed out… “Saturn ascends,” indeed!

Eon Blue Apocalypse, which I read is about Adam Jones’ great dane (named Eon), who died of bone cancer. It’s a trippy little instrumental intermission track that only lasts a bit more than a minute.

The Patient creeps in after this, building off its picked guitar and wonky background noises. It’s a slow chugger that, of course, eventually becomes a full-on Tool rocker. It’s actually heavy as hell – try 4:50 and onward for a bit. Hell yeah!

Mantra is, brilliantly, the slowed down sound Maynard gently squeezing one of his cats. It sounds like whale music through an electronic filter. OK boys, thanks.

Schism, the first single, is another favourite of mine. It’s pure Tool, all the right pieces in all the right places. “I know the pieces fit!” That tricky little riff is amazing, and when it hits hard, it hits REALLY hard. Hot damn.

Parabol is a gorgeous, slow, ethereal track. It never builds into anything in itself, but it acts as a great three minute intro to the next track…

…Parabola, the second single. It’s a great rocker, more pounding drums and big huge everything. What a track! Just perfection.

Ticks & Leeches’ awesome pounding drum intro (what a workout!) leads into Maynard’s wild ranting (with altered vocal sound) before going into full Tool rage and howl. Holy hell, this is incredible. There’s a middle section that’s calm, which I presume is to give Danny’s arms a chance to rest haha! Oh man, I’m falling in love with this record all over again!

Lateralus, the third single, absolutely rocks. It has an interesting thing about it:

The title track, “Lateralus”, incorporates the Fibonacci sequence. The theme of the song describes the desire of humans to explore and to expand for more knowledge and a deeper understanding of everything. The lyrics “spiral out”, refers to this desire and also to the Fibonacci spiral, which is formed by creating and arranging squares for each number in the sequence’s 1,1,2,3,5,8,… pattern, and drawing a curve that connects to two corners of each square. This would, allowed to continue onwards, theoretically create a never-ending and infinitely-expanding spiral. Related to this, the song’s main theme features successive time signatures 9/8, 8/8, and 7/8. The number 987 is the sixteenth integer of the Fibonacci sequence.

Disposition starts with some cool bass noodling and guitar too. Maynard sings gently, bongo drums are here too. By now I know that, with Tool, gentle moments like this are usually just a calm before the storm… but this one isn’t. Maynard just wants to watch the weather change. Er…

Reflection has that same beat as Disposition, though, though this one becomes an almost 5 minute trippy gentle metal noodle session with Maynard’s vocals floating and shifting. It does finally become a bit of a rock track at the end, but honestly, this is a perfectly-timed track. At over 11 minutes long, its calm is a nice reprieve from the tension and pummeling of most of the rest of this record!

Triad chug builds through eatern sounds and feedback into an awesome instrumental Tool rocker. Why there is 2:13 of silence at the end seems odd, unless it’s a spacer for the next track, meant to emulate a hidden track (and if so, why bother). Anyway…

Faaip De Oaid, a noise track with lots of electronic buzzing and a paranoid rant in there too, ends the disc unsettlingly.

In Sum:

Tool continues their incredible run, here. Is this their best album? Maybe! There’s so much brilliance in these tracks. Great heavy metal, complex tunes that expand your mind and send you off in a million directions.

Lateralus absolutely rules.

Tool – Ænima

We move to 1996 and here we have 77:18 of Tool brilliance. Their second studio album, here’s where Tool finally went friggin’ huge. It’s also their first with new bassist Justin Chancellor. 

The album name combines ‘anima’ (Latin for soul, often used by Carl Jung) and enema. Because Tool. I love the lenticular cover art, the whole package is just stellar.

Let’s dig in, shall we…

Stinkfist, the first single, is a perfect Tool song. Everything they’d learned and built upon to this point is encapsulated in this one track. Damn.

Eulogy, which (drummer) Danny Carey said was about L. Ron Hubbard, has an intro with a lightly Eastern feel to it as it slowly builds, adding drums to those stabbing notes… the guitar comes in as the song finally hits its stride, and Maynard’s vocals on the verses sound are so filtered and processed it sounds like he’s coming through a megaphone. Of course, eventually the whole thing achieves lift-off and is another big track. Even the breakdown section is cool.

H., the second single, fuzz-riffs its way into being. While the verse sections are gentle, lightly drummed sections while the guitar snakes in the background, the chorus is arena-ready massiveness. The middle bit with the repeating guitar while the drums pound and Maynard sings beautifully over excellent chord changes is amazing. The control here is incredible, and when it all crashes to a close you know Tool was here.

Useful Idiot is 0:39 of a record spinning after having reached its center. Not sure why this is placed here at track 4 instead of at the end of the record, but there ya go.

Forty Six & 2 was the fourth single, and it’s another slinky riff, also eastern in feel. When the main bit kick in it rocks like hell. Complicated time signatures are back and it’s glory. The ending is absolutely punishing like being punched. Wow!

Message To Harry Manback is lovely piano music over beach and gull noises, which someone who had been a gust of Maynard’s leaves an angry answering machine message about being forced to leave Maynard’s house. At least it’s short.

Hooker With A Penis is aggressive and hard, reportedly written in response to a fan who claimed Tool had sold out after their first EP. Haha whut, who would say that? I see dumb people! Ah well. This song kills, and absolutely rocks the hell out, especially at the ending.

Intermission is less than a minute of whacky organ music. Can you spot that it is the riff from Jimmy?

Reportedly, Maynard told audiences that Jimmy was the sequel to Prison Sex, getting through the abuse. It really starts to take off for a bit around 2:05 or so. Ah yeah. There’s power and understanding and pain and emotion here. Heavy track.

I’ve copied, verbatim, the Wiki bit on Die Eier Von Satan. Why try to explain all of this myself?

The fourth, and most controversial segue is the Neue Deutsche Härte style “Die Eier von Satan”, functioning as the album’s easter egg and as a follow up of sorts to Undertow’s hidden track “Disgustipated”. It is introduced by a distorted bassline giving way to a heavy industrial guitar, starting at the :23 mark and lasting only ten seconds, playing a single note in Drop C tuning over a reversed drum beat in compound triple meter. It is in the time signature of 4½/4 (3 quarter notes + 1 dotted quarter note), expressed as alternating 5/8 and 2/4 or 9/8. The structure makes the beat feel as if it is going out of time in one measure only to correct itself in the next one, with odd and even seemingly battling one another for supremacy as the tension escalates. The lyrical component of the song is spoken in German by Marko Fox, bass player for ZAUM and SexTapes. He is backed by a sound that resembles a hydraulic press, and crowd cheering and applause that increase in volume as the lyrics are read with increasing ferocity. These combined effects make the song sound like a militant German rant or Nazi rally. While the shocking, aggressive tone and “von Satan” in the title may suggest having to do with the Church of Satan the speaker is merely reciting an innocuous cookie recipe.[14][27] The band tried working titles like “The Final Recipe” (playing on Final Solution) and “Holocaust in 9/8“, an allusion to the 1972 Genesis epic “Supper’s Ready” and its final section “Apocalypse in 9/8” and “As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men’s Feet)”. The song was originally translated by Gudrun Fox. According to Blair McKenzie Blake, the maintainer of the official Tool website, “Die Eier von Satan” originally were cookies that “Marko Fox’s grandmother used to bake for him as a child, without using eggs as an ingredient. The substitution for eggs is a magical incantation from the worm-eaten pages of some moldering grimoire.” This magical incantation (“sim salabim bamba sala do saladim”) is taken from the German children’s song “Auf einem Baum ein Kuckuck” and popularized by Harry August Jansen. According to the lyrics, the special ingredient besides this “incantation” is actually “a knife-tip of Turkish hashish”. The title is a play on deviled eggs, translating to “The Eggs of Satan” in English or “The Balls of Satan”, due to a German double entendre of “Eier”, which can either mean “eggs” or serve as slang for testicles. While there may not be eggs, “balls” do appear in the form of “ground nuts” (150 grams) while the dough itself is rolled into tiny balls before baking. So far the only time it has been performed live in its entirety was on December 19, 1996 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. The track has been compared to the work of industrial and experimental artists such as Einstürzende Neubauten, Rammstein and Tom Waits.

Whew! But this ought to give you an indication of the depths and intelligence that goes into every Tool track. Incredible.

Pushit build and crashes like waves, as only Tool can do it – menacingly, beautifully, intelligently. The sound finally gets a real lift around 3:55. Another extended, quieter middle section is present. And, as ever, they’ve left the real crashing and banging for the ending.

Cesaro Summability starts off with a baby crying, which gets messed with and echoed. A voice tries to come through as though on a fading radio station while a guitar revs like an engine. Not entirely necessary, but there you go.

Ænima was the third single, and is probably my favourite Tool song. I love everything about it. Referencing Bill Hicks (who also appears in the booklet as “another fallen hero.” Basically, the song hates California and everyone in it, and the sooner the San Andreas fault breaks and buries it underwater, the better. Meanwhile, the song Fucking. Rocks. I just love it. “Learn to swim! Learn to swim!” Hahaha.

(-) Ions is another interlude track. If I didn’t know better, it’s the sound of a jet flying overhead (perhaps over the water of Arizona Bay… or maybe it’s just wind, or something. Electric buzzing comes in, circling, and it’s clearly not an airplane, now. I dunno. Then robot noises. Seriously. 4:00 of weird.

Third Eye is a psychedelic drug song, while still rocking like Tool. When the lyrics come in, Maynard sounds languid, at first. Then he’s screaming… though it’s sampled into chunks, at times… The track contains samples of Bill Hicks (once again). Despite quiet moments, when this track hits hard, it hits really fucking hard. Whoa. Time to open up that third eye, folks. What an excursion this one is!

And no hidden track this time.

In Sum:

Tool absolutely announce themselves to be fearless, with this one. The song subjects are fascinating, they followed their artistic muses to new heights (and a couple of lows, but hey, so it goes), and they absolutely proved themselves for real yet again.

The more you listen to it, the more you hear. It’s (seemingly) endless. It’s dense, and around every corner lurks some sort of shock or revelation. But we’re all on a common mission here, and this record will get us there.

Me? I love this record.

Tool – Undertow

Here’s where I (among many, probably) got into Tool. This one was pretty much unavoidable, and I happily joined in. What a record!

Intolerance is just a monster of a track, roiling and muscular and quintessentially Tool. Maynard says he doesn’t want to be hostile, but many other tracks here seem to contradict that… Anyway, I just love this song. Perfect album opener.

Prison Sex was a single, and it’s quite the song, lyrically, given that it’s about child abuse. The song and the video met with controversy, but Maybard was unapologeticly “quite clear about his antipathy towards his stepfather during early interviews about the song,” saying “This song is about recognizing, identifying, the cycle of abuse within yourself. That’s the first step of the process: realization; identifying. The next step is to work through it. But this song is about the first step in the process, which is recognizing.” Whew, it’s a heavy song to deal with. But, being Tool, it’s tuneful and heavy and musically excellent.

Sober, of course, is the one everybody knows. Just a huge, slinky, brilliant track.

Bottom was another seller for me, in getting into this album. What an aggressive monster of a track! But even better (for me), it has Henry Rollins on it, in the middle section! “…but my soul must be iron, ‘cos my fear is naked. I’m naked and fearless. And my fear is NAKED!” Yeah! This track will be on every Hits Of Tool disc I ever make.

Crawl Away takes half a minute to build up to the riff that ulitmately rolls in, another template Tool crusher. The chourus here is the best, the combination of that groovy heavy metal music and lyrics working perfectly. When it takes off at 300 mph towards then end, you’re already well under its power.

Swamp Song is another perfect Tool riff, fuzzed out and slowed down to make it even creepier and powerful. Maynard is no less angry, here, either. When it gets to the chorus, the swirling music is throwing punches and you’re swaying with it… Yes!

The title track, Undertow, brings on the comlicated riff and time signature before settling into that sweet metal groove that is already cemented as their signature sound. Maynard’s still ranting, and it’s the shifting (and punishing) riffs and beats here that make it a stellar track. The high speed ending, which abruptly stops as though you’ve hit a wall, is a killer.

4° beings with a vaguely Eastern sounding intro riff, but it isn’t long before it’s another big, writhing Tool song. This one’s a call to self-discovery and realization (I can dig it) while that guitar holds your ear the whole time…

Flood is a giant 4 minute instrumental workout and build-up before it even shifts into becoming a song and Maynard starts singing. What a great tune! You get all settled in and then it morphs! Typical Tool. It pounds to an end and, just like that, this amazing Tool record is done.

But wait.

Buried way down on track 69 (all the others are empty tracks), another hidden track, called Disgustipated. Ah, the 90s. A sparsely-tapped bongo drum and farm animal noises. Here we go again with Tool’s goofy sense of humour. One starts to think that, after the heaviness of the content of their songs, levity like this is needed. Maynard is in preacher mode, railing against the carrot holocaust. Haha awesome. And then the drums go tribal while voices “This is necessary… life feeds on life…” over and over… After about six and a half minutes, all you hear is crickets. For more than seven minutes. And then Maynard’s voice is back, a hushed narrative in the aftermath…

In Sum:

Though it’s hard to choose, this is probably my favourite Tool record. It’s perfect. Everything works, nothing is wasted, the sound is stellar, and I’ve never tired of it even after the millions of times I’ve played it.

 

* Quotations from Wiki. 

Tool – Opiate

Finding that Revolver Magazine tribute issue to Tool, recently, has led me to go back and do a series on the Tool albums. Inexplicably, I have not covered them all in these pages, yet! Oversiiiiiiiiight…

Of course, this is an EP not an album, but it’s gotta be included! I didn’t have Opiate when it came out, though I knew of Tool at the time. I went back and bought it after Undertow blew my mind… 

Named for the famous Karl Marx quote “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people,” a discussion I won’t go into here. It’s just what Tool decided to name their EP, and also hey James I’ve got yer Communist Manifesto right here! 

Ahem, anyway.

Let’s have a run through this EP…

Right off the bat, the muscular aggression of Sweat announces that Tool is not messing around. Those guitar lines, those skittering drums, that huge sound. Massive song.

Hush starts off with a funky riff and a right neighbourly “Fuck youuuuuuuu!” The rest of the song carries on in that vein, it’s definitely a kiss-off track. The “Just kidding” at the end doesn’t feel all that genuine, Maynard! Haha. Again, all the elements collide to make it a template Tool track. Love it!

Part Of Me builds off feedback into a pumelling chug of a tune, that restless energy and that strong attack that, we know well now, is the Tool trademark sound. Non-stop brilliance.

And then we get two live tracks recorded specifically for this release at the Jello Loft on New Years Eve 1991. Usually bands tack live stuff onto the end of a release like this, but Tool is not your usual band.

Cold And Ugly (live) starts off with a cheery “throw that Bob Marley wannabe motherfucker outta here…” and then the band blasts into another heavy-as-fuck tune. This was recorded well, the sound is great. The bass is incredible here, tied to those pounding drums, and the guitar wailing away while Maynard rides the crest of the non-stop wave…

Of course, Maynard’s got more hate for part of the crowd before Jerk-Off (live) starts, but once they get going this tune, with its (mildly) disorienting time signature switches and yet more perfect Tool metal is a keeper for sure. Man, Maynard had a lot of anger! I mean, this reads like a love note:

Consequences dictate
our course of action
and it doesn’t matter what’s right.
It’s only wrong if you get caught.

If consequences dictate
my course of action
I should play GOD
and shoot you myself.
I’m very tired of waiting.

(Dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!)

I should
kick you,
beat you,
fuck you,
and then shoot you in your fucking head.

So cheery!

Opiate was always a favourite of mine from this release. It’s just a perfect Tool song. Love love love everything about it. Through the good headphones, this one achieves friggin’ lift-off in the break-down sections, and those pounding drums as the track winds down… damn… and Maynard shreds his vocal chords… This is mastery, folks. What a track!

But it ain’t over yet, folks… you had to stick around, because there’s a hidden track too..

The Gaping Lotus Experience is a whacky, trippy little toss-off track that, with its goofy lyrics, was maybe better left off here, but whatever. The real heavy lifting had already been done, by this point.

In Sum:

As far as EPs go, as far as first offerings from new bands, and despite the hidden track, there’s only one word for this one:

Perfection.

 

Sweet Magazine Score

Look what I found for $0.50, in perfect shape… 100 pages of glory!

tool-revolver-magazine-special-the-book-of-tool-1-728

Tool – Demo

A good friend (and fellow Tool fan) recently found this gem on the internets, and he so very kindly made sure I got to hear it. Righteous!

Listening to this amazing piece of metal history, one could almost be convinced that Tool dropped onto Earth fully-formed, blazing away and stomping weaker bands from the instant of their arrival. If you’re a fan, you’ll know the feeling I’m talking about…

Demo is a cool mix of tracks that ultimately found their way onto the official releases Opiate and Undertow. Alternately named Toolshed or 72826 (Wikipedia says this spells Satan on a telephone keypad), it is a fascinating opportunity to hear the band on this, their first foray into what would become their inimitable, signature sound.   

Cold And Ugly and Jerk-Off, which on Opiate are awesome live versions, here show themselves to be strong, completely worthy studio tracks. It’s great to hear them as such, as we’re all so used to hearing the live recordings. These alone are worth the price of admission!

Hush, in comparison to the Opiate version, sounds more stripped down, a little under-produced and that’s great. I like the raw feel. Same thing with Part Of Me, which chugs along with all weapons set on Kill from the first note.

Crawl Away sounds a little faster than the Undertow version, and that’s cool. It’s a band adjusting its groove, feeling things out, letting great music and ideas congeal like blood. Sober‘s sound stays closer to the surface and is a little faster than on Undertow, but it’s no less menacing. The words of this version are also slightly different.

In sum, this is a time capsule worth hearing. It’s hard to find, and when you do find it you’ll pay exorbitant amounts of money to get it. But any Tool fan will tell you that it’s all relative – and absolutely worth it.

Track Listing:
01 Cold And Ugly
02 Hush
03 Part Of Me
04 Crawl Away
05 Sober
06 Jerk-Off

Tool Info Update (from July 9, 2007 Show) Volume 2

Somebody else posted some pics of the show. Either the camera was drunk or the person taking the pics was getting too jostled in the pit. Maybe it was both…

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=6624&l=6e540&id=513559065

Man, I’m still buzzing from that show. It was AWESOME!

Tool Info Update!!! (from July 9, 2007 show)

For all of you who give a shit, I have found out some more about the Tool concert we saw last Monday!!

SET LIST

intro: riffs from Passage To Bangkok by Rush
Jambi
Stinkfist (extended)
46 & 2
Schism (extended)
Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)
Rosetta Stoned
Flood (with Some Days It’s Dark from Kids In The Hall in the middle of it)
Wings For Marie (Pt.1)
10,000 Days (Wings For Marie Pt.2)
Lateralus
Vicarious

ALSO:

1) There are now lots of (unanimously positive) reviews on this Tool page:

http://toolnavy.com/showthread.php?t=81927

2) Two sites with pics from that night:

http://picasaweb.google.com/mikejrisi/ToolJuly92007

http://hawaiianpig.pfordee.com/tooljul9th/

3) Somebody posted a cellphone video of the Kids In The Hall cover (Some Days It’s Dark) on Youtube:

Pt.1:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAsQLEC0tgI&mode=related&search=
Pt2:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOGqmLfFmXk&mode=related&search=

Right FREAKIN’ on!!

Tool (July 9, 2007)

I am back from the front lines, dear KMA readers, and I have seen one hell of a show out there in the melée amongst the unwashed masses. Last night, a night of a few firsts for me, I spent a couple of hours in the presence of the mighty Tool.

As regular KMA readers may recall, I have been beside myself with excitement and anticipation leading up to this gig. It was supposed to happen back in April, but the drummer, Danny Carey, hurt his arm and required time to heal, thus pushing back all the dates.

Last night was my first time seeing Tool live, even though I’m what you could call a Big Fan – I own all of their albums and I’ve honestly always meant to go when they toured somewhere near my house… it just never seemed to happen that I could be there, until yesterday. It was also my first time in Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum, which turned out to be a really nice venue, perfect for the show last night. Our immense thanks to Brian and Kristy for lining up and also being online to get us these seats, which were at the back of the lower bowl, just to the right of center facing the stage. We had perfect sightlines on the entire stage, and we weren’t getting jostled by any of the young turks who feel it’s necessary to act like assholes at shows like this.

This was also the first concert I’ve gone to in over two years, my last having been a nostalgia attendance at a Ministry and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult concert in Saskatoon, so it was definitely time to clean the accumulated dust out the corners, so to speak. This also goes a long way toward explaining why I was so excited about getting out to see a much higher quality group in action… all deference to those other bands, of course.

We had no idea who was going to open at this particular show. Back on June 24th they played a second (added) show since the one last night sold out in record time for Copps (20 minutes). Funny that they’d put the second show before the first one. Anyway, on that night it had been a band called Melt Banana, and we’d been told that the opening acts have mostly been local bands, or bands called up on the spur of the moment, or as their schedules allowed, without there being a set band for the whole tour or large chunks of it. Last night at Copps, it was a band called Big Business who, according to their web site, are opening a few shows on this tour.

I’d never heard of them before, which probably kills my Music Knowledge Cred a little bit, but so what. There are just two guys, one on bass, the other on drums, playing loud and fast. I suppose they’re metal, or punk, but not really either one. A lot of it was just noise. The drummer very much reminded me of Animal from the Muppets. Arms flailing, fills at every opportunity, reckless high speed… I was waiting for him to grab the mike and yell “Woman! Woooman!” He really was something to watch, though. The guy singing and playing guitar really liked feedback, relying on it more than his fairly simplistic playing at many points. From where we were sitting, his faux-growled lyrics sounded much like “Blaaaarg weerg fruuuuuum klaaaaaarg!” Mercifully, they played very few songs, all of which were completely unintelligible, and then they got the hell off the stage. I definitely wouldn’t need to see them again, and I couldn’t imagine buying a CD of it. That drummer needs to be in a better band, though. I think he’s slumming.

So then came the inevitable wait for the main event, during which they played Iron Maiden’s Number Of The Beast over the sound system at high volume, with people cheering and singing along as the crews tested the lighting on stage in time to the music. The people in the seats directly in front of us broke out the obligatory joints which, I noticed, got increasingly larger as the night wore on, until at one point I looked down and the joint they were puffing on looked as though it had been rolled by Bob Marley himself.

So then Tool finally appeared and the crowd went apeshit with the realization that the show we’ve all been waiting for was finally upon us. Maynard, the singer, was up on the riser with the drums, well away from the front of the stage, and he stayed there all night. He often had his side or even his back facing the audience and was always obscured in shadows. The two guitarists each played from opposite corners of the stage, thus leaving the entire center of the hockey rink-width platform, prime real estate for most bands, completely empty all night. While they play, the band does not do any jumping around or rocking out, although Maynard did do some of his leaning-back flailing like he’s caught in a big wind storm, but even that was not consistent or seemingly done with any great relish. It just seemed like something he felt he was expected to do. At any rate, this lack of movement, I gather, allows them to play their instruments with the technical precision for which the band is known. Fair enough.

You know, I’ve been to a lot of shows in my life, and I’ve noticed that there are bands that Have It, bands that simply do OK, and some bands that really clearly Do Not Have It (like Big Business, if you ask me). Well Tool, as you may conclude before I get a chance to say it, Have It, big-time. They played their songs impeccably, and with an energy and passion not manifested physically by the band members but still undeniably there. The songs just seemed to pour out of them fully-formed, often note-perfect to the album versions. When they did spend some time on instrumental excursions in the middle of songs, the changes made sense and fit the songs just as well as the original versions.

They played several of the new songs, including both parts of Wings (Wings For Marie and 10,000 Days), Rosetta Stoned, amongst many brilliant others, and they also played some older stuff like 46&2 and an apparently rare (in concert) version of Flood, the title of which we confirmed on the way home by playing Undertow in the car stereo until we found it. I didn’t keep a notepad for the setlist in my pocket, although I maybe should have. I was too busy letting the sounds wash over me to pay attention to something like that. I really did just let the concert take me over. Besides, someone out there will post the setlist on their blog or somewhere very soon, and I’ll get it then. Suffice it to say they played a lot of the songs you’d expect to hear at a show at this point of their career, although I was kind of hoping for Sober or Aenema but they played neither of those. Still, it was absolutely great.

At one point I turned to our buddy Wilf, for whom this was his 4th Tool concert, because I did not recognize the song they were playing at all. Neither did he, and Brian didn’t either, so all we could do was shrug and hope to find info online later. But Maynard came to our rescue very close to the end of the show, when he spoke very briefly to the crowd, saying he “hoped we enjoyed their messed up version of that Kids In The Hall Brain Candy song.” Whoa. It dawned on me that that had indeed been where I’d heard it before, but it came from so far out of left field and was so contextually unexpected at this show that we didn’t even register it. Thinking about it now, it’s pretty damn cool that they did that, especially given how rarely they do cover tunes. Way to go.

My wife didn’t want to come to this show, preferring to leave it as a Boys Night Out, and Brian and Wilf’s better halfs did the same thing. It’s a shame, because Tool’s show is just as impressive visually as it is musically, and I think they would have really, honestly enjoyed it. There were six large screens in the background, showing a steady stream of the images one would expect at a Tool show, including a lot of messed up humanoid figures (as in their videos), as well as angels and crashing waves and psychedelic laser light patterns that looked identical to some of those Visualization options in Windows Media Player. And then there was the light show itself, with more lasers and three big spinning discs that looked like the Mother Ship was coming in for a landing, all the lights cutting through huge clouds of dry ice fog (and likely pot smoke, although this latter addition would most certainly not have been supplied by the band). A lot of the images and lighting effects were timed to the music, and the net result was an incredible sensory experience.

There were a few points in the night where the band just seemed to take a break, playing minimal noise experiments on little keyboards or from the guitars, letting the moments just sort of hang there and giving the audience (and the band too) time to catch its breath. At one point, the band even sat down together on the drum riser and just stayed there for a few minutes, doing nothing. I suppose this was an encore break, although they never left the stage as a group. Maynard often left the stage while the band played instrumental breaks, but given the way he is, no one could have been surprised by that. Anyway, it was during these middle moments that the crowd broke out their cigarette lighters and the whole room of some 18,000 people seemed to come alive with what looked like candle light. This really didn’t come across as some lame rock concert ploy where the crowd was trying to get the band to play Freebird. This felt more like a simple thank you to the band, just an acknowledgement from all the souls wedged into the completely enthusiastic sold-out crowd.

I’ve seen a lot of concerts where I never really got past that feeling of disconnect from the band, no matter how close to the stage we were, but last night it felt like we really were a part of the show, right in the mix with the band. And with the volume as loud as it was, as one would expect it to be, I also felt every note right in the pit of my stomach. There were many points in the night where I felt like I needed to pinch myself, to fully realize that I was where I was, seeing what I was seeing. It wasn’t disbelief, exactly… more like my brain trying to cope with the level of happiness that this show brought to me.

Detractors online have said that Tool has been playing basically the same set for the past year and a half, that they’re phoning in their performances and just going through the motions. Never once last night did I get the sense that this was happening. I think that what those people are missing is that the band is simply that good, that they’re making it look easy with their professionalism and their talent. Mind you, these are likely the very same people who show up to say they’ve ‘been there,’ but it’s highly likely that they don’t really care about the music at all, at a guess.

After the show, while we waited for some of the crowd to disperse before trying the exits, I checked out the merch tables from a distance, but it was just t-shirts and hats and some buttons, nothing that had to come home. And I boggled that anyone would pay $45, more than half the ticket price, for a t-shirt with such a simple design on it. But then I turned and looked at the crowd around me on the concourse and I realized that there are apparently a lot of people who would pay $45 for a t-shirt. I’m definitely not one of them, but if the market will bear it, I suppose they can charge it.

In sum, this show goes in the list of the best shows I’ve ever seen, in many ways. The music was fucking amazing, the band was engaged and together the whole time without any Big Rock Star bullshit, and the big picture image I have in my mind of the entire show, lighting and stage set-up included, all adds up to a must-see event.

When Tool rolls into your town, you’d be well served to snap up tickets and get out to the gig. This is a highly professional band at the top of their game, playing brilliant music and keeping things interesting as only they can.

Tool – 10,000 Days

We’ve got Tool tickets!! YAY! As you may recall, I recently mentioned here that we were going to go see them when they came around, but then Danny Carey hurt his arm and the tour was postponed. Well, Mr. Carey is back and the band is on the road again and we’re going to the Copps Coliseum show in Hamilton in early July! Apparently, the show sold out in 12 minutes (as well it should), so I consider us lucky to get seats. I’ve never seen Tool before, and I am beside myself with excitement! You can, of course, expect a full review of the show on these pages in the aftermath.

As a result, I’ve been constantly listening to the latest Tool album (and the one for which they are currently touring), 10,000 Days. I want to be right up to speed on all of the new songs before we go. And you know something? This record is really, really great. There isn’t a bad song on here. Now, I’m a little biased, as I own all of Tool’s albums and love them all, but this one fits into the legacy with ease. If you’re a Tool fan, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If this is your first introduction, it’ll serve you well and will lead you to going out and getting the rest of their albums. It’s that good. I added this album to my Best of 2006 List last year, and for very good reason.

Tool has a sound, a way of playing that is entirely unique to them. Oh sure, others have tried to emulate them but it always comes off sounding just like what it is: a bad Tool impersonation. Maynard James Keenan’s voice simply soars over the heavy cacophony with a menacing beauty. The musicianship is, of course, completely awesome. Listen to the highly intricate guitar sounds, which are out of this world. The combination of the bottom-heavy bass and the thundering drums are Tool’s core, the bedrock on which this inimitable sound is built. Taken together, this is a completely unstoppable group of musicians.

One of the things I love best about Tool is their willingness to experiment, to hold their sound up to the fading light and turn it in their hands to explore it from every angle. Sure, this results in every album having a couple of weird-sounding, short musical interludes. But even these fit the flow of the albums, serving as introduction to just how far these men are willing to go to get just the sound they want. And the full-length tracks are entirely surprising and innovative, pulling the listener along with strength and creativity. On top of all of this, they fucking rock. ‘Nuff said.

If you’ve never tried it, Tool sounds great played through good headphones, with the lights out and candles lit. Spend some time with the songs on 10,000 Days in this way, let them be all that your senses are taking in, and you’ll be astounded at just how incredible these songs are. Tool is a band that seems to take pride in uncompromisingly doing things their way, and we are all that much better for it.

It’s been a long time between albums (the band never seems to be in a rush, instead preferring quality to quantity, for which I am entirely grateful!), and the arrival of this record was welcome indeed. Forget the pretenders to the throne. Tool is your one-stop nirvana, and 10,000 Days will blow out your mind and make you come crawling back for another listen, again, and again, and again…

Oh man, I can’t wait to go to the show.

Tool – Live At Pink Pop (June 4, 2006)

Tool rocks. And they were touring in support of 10,000 Days, and we were so totally gonna go when they came to Hamilton on April 29. But then Danny Carey (the drummer) hurt his arm and a bunch of dates got postponed, including the 29th. Bummer, but I hope more for the speedy and complete recovery of Mr. Carey. We will go, whenever they make up the date. No worries there, mate. And there’ll be a review of it here on the trusty ol’ KMA immediately afterwards, fear not!

Anyway, to feed my need for Tool in the interim, a buddy from work (who is coming with, on this future excursion) slipped me this bootleg video of Tool’s show at the Pinkpop Festival, Landgraff, Netherlands on 06/04/06. Sweet!

Lots to notice here. First and foremost, Tool’s songs totally kick ass, but you knew that already. Since it’s a festival gig, this was not their full stage show so I can only imagine how much (exponentially) cooler it will be when we go. Really, it just looks like a bunch of guys standing around in one spot and playing, but given the technical complexity of these songs one really can’t expect Eddie Van Halen-like jumps from amp stacks, right? Right.

The sound quality’s not great, but that’s part and parcel for this type of thing. It’s not so bad that you can’t make anything out, but it ain’t exactly CD quality either. Maynard, he of the incredible and other-worldly voice, isn’t much one for between-song banter either. It’s music time, baby, and that’s alright by this humble reviewer.

The camera work sucks, but again that’s what amateur video is all about. There’s as much footage of the backs of people’s heads (nice mohawk, buddy), and long-zooms to the moon and back, that sort of thing, as there is shoddy zooms towards the stage. It’s not really a problem unless you’re into decent, steady, clear and non-nausea-inducing camera work. I’ve seen professionally-done, officially released stuff that was worse than this, too. Whatever.

This gig started out in the late afternoon, and by the end of the set it was dark. I noticed that no one in the immediate vicinty of the camera was paying very much attention while it was still daylight, but as soon as it got dark and the light show onstage had more effect, suddenly everyone was into it and cheering a lot more. The music was brilliant from the start of the show, so clearly the people in this crowd are idiots primarily affected by visual cues. So go watch a movie, not a music concert.

Which brings me to my final point, and it’s a serious one and I want you all to take it to heart: When you go to a concert, shut the hell up. Listen, dance, sing along, have a good time. But Do Not Talk. The music is so loud that trying to shout over it is stupid at best, so save your friggin’ comments for the long drive home. Why is it that every time I go to a show or see one of these videos there’s always that one asshole who talks through the entire thing? Why did they even bother to go? Is it just so they can “say they were there” after the fact? That’s pathetic. They didn’t even see the show – they were too busy talking. So here’s a plan: If you wanna talk, stay home, play the CD at top volume and talk over that about how you could have gone to the show. Don’t come to the show and shout through the whole thing and not listen to the music. Please! It wrecks it for the people who care. Like me, specifically.

Sigh. I’m getting so bitchy in my advancing age.

Anyway, I don’t know if you’ll see this, but it’s worth hunting down if you want to do so. Every song is perfect. Tool is a well-oiled, finely-honed machine by now and this show proves it. The new songs kick ass and fit in perfectly. I love that they ended with Aenema (I love those lyrics – ‘learn to swim’ indeed), and that was one hell of a slinky version of Sober. Yummy.

Rockabye Baby – Lullaby Renditions Of Tool

Tool is one of those bands that I’ve followed for years with great pleasure. Their music is equally creepy, aggressive, and yet uplifting and fascinating to me. They really can’t be beat for atmosphere, brute force, brilliant lyrics and mastery of form. And then there’s Maynard James Keenan’s voice, which is (in my opinion) unequaled in this vein.

I came to them just a little late, with Undertow, when I learned that another favourite artist of mine, Henry Rollins, had contributed vocals to the song Bottom. I have bought every album the band has released since and have never once been disappointed. My one great regret (regarding this band) is having a copy of their Salival DVD in my hands in HMV on Rue Ste. Catherine in Montréal several years ago and, lacking discretionary funds at the time, I left it there. Of course, it was limited edition and soon went out of print, and when I went back for it it was long gone. It now sells for exorbitant amounts of money through collector sites, if you’re lucky enough to even find a copy of it. So often a release will say Limited Edition on it and yet it remains easily available. This one time, I guess, they meant it when they said limited. Damn.

Anyway, now you know more than you likely wanted to know about my unimportant (to you) history with this band’s work. I could probably have summed it up by saying “I’m a fan,” but apparently I’ve lost all ability to be concise (if I ever had it).

So, to the point. As with most other things that cross my path without my knowing why, I somehow or other heard of a series of albums being released called Rockabye Baby, produced and arranged by some guy named Michael Armstrong. These albums feature lullaby (yes, you read that correctly) versions of songs by artists as varied as radiohead, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, Metallica and, yes, Tool. Being a fan of all of these bands, I knew I’d want to hear them, if only for the entertainment value that was sure to ensue.

I don’t remember mentioning this series to my brother-in-law, but at Christmas this year he gave me my very own copy of the Lullaby Renditions Of Tool. Right on! We popped it into the CD player immediately and, half-expecting hilarity, I was actually thrilled to hear well-done and interesting musical impressions of some of Tool’s best-known songs. What struck me was just how fantastic and off-beat it would be to actually play this in a baby’s nursery. Sure, on one level it’s just a bunch of xylophone, bells, chimes and vibraphone tracks that are melodic and pretty-sounding. But on another level entirely, Tool’s music has an undercurrent of rather menacing and spine-tingling edginess which, I’d imagine, couldn’t be at all soothing to infants.

I really liked this CD, and I will play it often. The joke would be lost if you don’t know Tool’s stuff, though if you aren’t acquainted with them already, it’s about bloody time you were. Would I recommend you play this for your baby? After much consideration, I say yes, for the same reasons that made the Grimm fairytales universally popular. Sure, they’re not really built for kids but, hey, that’s the real world for you. May as well give them a head start.

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