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Music: Tool
Clockwise from lower left: Danny Carey (drums), Justin Chancellor (bass), Maynard James Keenan (vocals), and Adam Jones (guitar).

Founded in Los Angeles in 1990, Tool is a Progressive Rock/Metal group mostly known for their use of unconventional time signatures and rhythms, long songs, Mind Screw-tastic imagery, and emphasis on personal interpretation of their music. Like many bands in the 90's music scene, Tool started out as an underground group, and was signed by a record company after only three months of playing as a group. On March 1992, their first EP Opiate was released. Since then, four studio albums have been released, all of which have gone platinum and have achieved widespread success worldwide.

Tool incorporates many different styles and influences in their music, but the one theme they keep constant is the importance of personal interpretation of their songs, making it possibly the only band that runs solely on The Walrus Was Paul. To emphasize this even more, Tool does not release official lyrics with any of their albums, so that what the lyrics actually mean (or even are) never gets in the way of what the listener thinks they mean.

Confused yet? Good.

A few factors remain constant throughout their work however. They love using weird time signatures that shift throughout the song, and one track ("Lateralus") even has the rhythm and syllables of the lyrics arranged in a Fibonacci sequence (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13). The members of the group have unique styles, and Maynard James Keenan's vocals are instantly recognizable, not only for his voice but for his skill with the Metal Scream. Danny Carey is also one of the most acclaimed contemporary drummers going, and Adam Jones's guitar tone on Opiate, Undertow and Lateralus is just as iconic as Keenan's vocals. Not to mention Justin Chancellor's strong bass lines (and on Opiate and Undertow, Paul D'Amour), which often make a Tool song instantly recognizable.

Another important part of the band's music is the inclusion of collaborated works of art and music videos that echo themes presented in their songs and albums. These pieces of art usually involve disturbing (if not straight-up horrifying) imagery, play with the Uncanny Valley, and aren't necessarily supposed to tell an actual story, but evoke certain feelings from the viewer. They definitely succeed.

Over the band's career they've addressed many diverse topics, such as religion, the music industry and media censorship, child abuse, drug use, transcendence, and even Fan Dumb from their own fans who started complaining that It's Popular, Now It Sucks. This various subject matter has also made Tool the subject of much controversy and censorship, including one incident with their song "Stinkfist", which was renamed and edited to run on MTV, due to "Offensive connotations", as well as Walmart not selling their first LP Undertow with the original cover art. Despite (or possibly because of) that controversy, they have remained a hugely successful group and continue to actively tour both in the United States and internationally.

Three of the group's songs ("Schism", "Parabola", and "Vicarious") also appeared on Guitar Hero: World Tour as playable tracks.

The band is almost finished recording their first new album in almost 8 years. Danny says it will be out in early 2014, much to the relief of fans who believed it would stay in Development Hell.

Discography:

  • 1992 — Opiate (EP)
  • 1993 — Undertow
  • 1996 — Ănima
  • 2000 — Salival (box set with an 8-song CD and a DVD or VHS with the videos for "Sober", "Prison Sex", "Stinkfist", "Ănema", and on the DVD version, "Hush")
  • 2001 — Lateralus
  • 2006 — 10,000 Days

Grammy Awards

  • 1998 Best Metal Performance ("Ănema")
  • 2002 Best Metal Performance ("Schism")
  • 2007 Best Recording Package (10,000 Days)


"Why can't we not be troper..."

  • Alien Abduction:
    • Addressed...sort of...in "Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)" / "Rosetta Stoned"; see The Chosen One below.
    • "Faaip de Oiad" also mentions it, as part of a subversive societal takeover.
  • Alternative Metal / Progressive Metal: Their sound is hard to categorize; see Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly below.
  • Anything That Moves: The second friend described in "The Gaping Lotus Experience," up to and including inanimate objects.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence:
    • Sort of the point of "Forty Six & 2", which combines Jungian philosophy with an eccentric take on human evolution.
    • Lateralus as a whole is heavily influenced by transcendentalism.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Danny Carey's all-bronze drumkit made completely out of recycled cymbals. They may look cool, but they can't be used for overseas travel due to the sheer weight of the shells. According to The Other Wiki, the bass drums themselves weigh 93 pounds!
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • "Die Eier von Satan" features vocals by Marko Fox delivered in an angry tirade of German. It features a heavy industrial production and a roaring crowd in the background, bringing to mind something resembling a Nazi rally to a non-German speaker. The lyrics are actually Fox's grandmother's recipe for cookies made with Turkish hashish. She called them die Eier von Satan, which means "The Eggs of Satan", with "eggs" being common German slang for testicles. With this in mind, one could alternately translate the title as The Balls of Satan. The singer also frequently quotes "und keine Eier,"note . So basically, The Eggs of Satan contain no eggs.
    • "Message for Harry Manback" features quite a lot of extravagant swearing in Italian, though you can assume as much based on the rest of the message, delivered in English.
  • California Collapse: What the song "Ănema" is about, with inspiration from Bill Hicks.
  • The Cameo:
    • Singers: Henry Rollins in the breakdown of "Bottom", Marko Fox on "Die Eier von Satan", Statik on "Disgustipated" and "Triad" and Lustmord on "10,000 Days (Wings Pt 2)".
    • Musicians: On Salival, additional musicians include: King Buzzo on "You Lied", Vince DeFranco playing synths on "Third Eye", Alotte Duka playing tabla on "Pushit", producer/keyboardist David Bottrill on "Message to Harry Manback II", and the DVD version contains a live version of "Hush" with additional vocals by Tori Amos.
  • Can't Live with Them, Can't Live without Them: "H", on the surface, is about a relationship which is poisonous to the subject but which he/she can't bring him/herself to leave.
  • The Chosen One: Subverted in "Rosetta Stoned" - the narrator describes being abducted by aliens, who have chosen him to deliver a message to the human race...but he forgot to bring his pen to write it down.
  • Concept Album: Regardless of whether or not the band views any of their records as such, 10,000 Days is cited as an example all the same.
  • Cover Version: "No Quarter" by Led Zeppelin, "Demon Cleaner" by Kyuss, "You Lied" by Peachnote , "B'Boom" by King Crimson.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Several songs, especially "Hush", "Hooker with a Penis" and "Ănema". "Rosetta Stoned" alone should have earned 10,000 Days a Parental Advisory label, but the heavy distortion and layering on the vocals may have fooled the ratings board.
  • Epic Rocking: A large percentage of their discography consists of this; notable examples are "Pushit", "Third Eye", "Reflection", "Wings for Marie" (both parts), and "Rosetta Stoned".
  • Freud Was Right/Meaningful Name: invoked"Tool" means "penis". Word of God is that this is only one interpretation, but some of the licensed artwork definitely goes down that particular route.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: "Lost Keys" / "Rosetta Stoned" has a lot of fun with this. The subject may have had a sanity-breaking encounter with aliens, or he may have just OD'd on hallucinogens. The lyrics make either completely plausible.
  • Good Feels Good:
    • "The Patient" suggests that being a kind and loving person is its own reward, even when it's difficult.
    • Most of the Lateralus album appears to be hinting that the alternative (choosing to be bitter) won't make things any better.
  • Gratuitous Italian: "Message to Harry Manback" (both versions) feature a lot of Italian swearing.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: The opening of "Third Eye."
  • Hidden Track: "The Gaping Lotus Experience" at the end of Opiate.
  • Humans Are Bastards: "Vicarious"note , "Right In Two"note , the demo version of "Rosetta Stoned".
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: A lot of "Rosetta Stoned"'s lyrics are heavily layered and electronically slurred, and are almost incomprehensible. The first lyrics of "Forty Six & 2" and sections in the middle of "Stinkfist" and "Eulogy" are buried underneath the music, also making them difficult to decipher.
  • Instrumentals: The interludes on Ănima, Lateralus and 10,000 Days are this, plus "Triad" for a normal-length tune.
  • Intercourse with You: "Maynard's Dick", the hidden track on the CD of Salival.
  • Last Song Nightmare:
    • "Disgustipated" from Undertow: Maynard relating a very weird dream about an angel allowing him to hear the terrified screams of carrots facing harvest leads to a harsh sort-of song leads to 7 minutes of Chirping Crickets leads to a ominous-sounding voice message.
    • "Faaip de Oiad" from Lateralus: A harsh, droning wall of electronic noise with Danny furiously drumming in the background and accompanied by a frantic caller to Coast To Coast AM rambling about the government being taken over by aliens.
    • "Viginti Tres" from 10,000 Days
  • The Man Is Sticking It to the Man: Self-admitted in "Hooker with a Penis," which then mocks the listener for assuming otherwise.
    I sold my soul to make a record, dipshit, and then you bought one.
    *later*
    Shut up and buy - buy - buy my new record // Buy - buy - buy - send more money!
  • Madness Mantra: From "Rosetta Stoned," we have the "Don't know, won't know..." chant at the end of the song.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Did the narrator of "Rosetta Stoned" just have a particularly bad trip, or did he really have a sanity-shattering encounter with aliens?
  • Metal Scream: Maynard really likes this, particularly the 25-second scream in "The Grudge" and pretty much all of his singing in "Ticks & Leeches".
  • Mind Screw: A lot of their songs, and just about all of their videosnote , employ this.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally a 6 or 7, but they can also go as low as 4/5.
    • Or as high as an 8, on a few occasions. Not often, though.
  • Mood Whiplash: Can be induced by the middle tracks of Ănima, from the introspective "Forty Six & 2" to the head-scratching "Message to Harry Manback" to the venomously snarky "Hooker With a Penis" to the bouncy, cheerful "Intermission", which is the main guitar riff of the next song, the rather somber "Jimmy", played on an organ.
  • Mushroom Samba: ZigZagged in "Rosetta Stoned". The subject first attributes seeing the aliens to "the Deadhead chemistry", but later in the song he says "See, the Dead ain't touring / And this wasn't all in my head".
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Tool is notoriously difficult to classify due to the sheer amount of genres they cover. Progressive Rock, post-hardcore, Math Rock, Post-Rock, Noise Rock, ambient, art rock, and more all blend together to create something that really can't be conveniently labeled. "Progressive rock" and "progressive metal" are the most common labels applied to them, but even those are spotty at best.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "H", "Jambi", "Hooker With A Penis", "Lateralus", and many other songs.
  • Parental Abandonment: Several of Tool's songs are about Keenan's mother, who suffered an aneurysm and was partially paralyzed when he was still a child, and about his parents' divorce and the stress he dealt with when his mother remarried. Just about all of his endeavors reference her at some point, "Jimmy" is essentially Maynard's angst about his parents' divorce, and the A Perfect Circle song "Judith" is a scathing indictment of his mother keeping her faith in spite of her predicament.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Pushit", "Ticks and Leeches" (it's actually the only song on Lateralus that has any cursing), "The Pot".
  • Protest Song: "Right in Two".
  • Punny Name: Harry Manback.
  • Quicksand Sucks: "Swamp Song"
    My warning meant nothing
    You're dancing in quicksand [...]
    I hope it sucks you down
  • Reincarnation: Arguably a theme to "H".
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: "The Gaping Lotus Experience" features Maynard singing "Satan, Satan" (forgoing any backmasking at all).
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Used tongue-in-cheek as the applause dies down at the end of "Pushit" on Salival.
  • Schmuck Bait: "Hooker With a Penis" contains the line "I sold my soul to make a record, dipshit / Then you bought one!" This can be interpreted to mean that no true fan would ever believe in the band's stance against overt consumerism - because in order to have heard the song, (presumably, as this was before Youtube) one would have first had to have bought the album!
  • Shout-Out:
    • The most prominent is to Bill Hicks in Ănima: inner artwork, clips of Hicks in the intro to "Third Eye", and the song "Ănema" being based on Hicks' "Arizona Bay" routine, with a Title Drop in the chorus.
    • The live version of "Third Eye" on Salival replaces the Bill Hicks material with clips of Timothy Leary.
    • "Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)" is a nod to Albert Hofmann, the creator of LSD.
  • Signature Style: Complex (and often polyrhythmic) drumming, heavy guitars and bass, and the Perishing Alt Rock Voice of Maynard James Keenan make up a lot of the band's songs, making them one of the most distinct bands in the metal community.
  • Spoken Word In Music: "Faaip de Oiad", "Disgustipated", "Lost Keys (Blame Hofmann)", "Bottom" and "Third Eye" all use this. "Bottom" even drags Henry Rollins in for a cameo.
  • Take That:
    • A good chunk of their earlier catalogue is built on this ("Hush"note , "Eulogy"note , "Hooker with a Penis"note , "Ănema"note , and others).
    • The sheep bleating in "Disgustipated" references Maynard doing the same on-stage to Scientologists when Tool played at their Celebrity Centre in 1993.
  • Title Drop: A good example in "Eulogy":
    You've claimed all this time that you would die for me.
    Why then are you so surprised when you hear your own eulogy?
  • Too Dumb to Live: Not the bandmembers themselves, but a fan. When you run onto a normal stage, security will take you down. When you run onto a stage where Tool plays, Maynard James Keenan himself will take you down, and keep on singing while he holds you down.
  • Uncommon Time: Many of their songs, namely "Schism", which has up to 47 meter changes.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses:
    • Like you wouldn't believe, if this is any indication.
    • Somebody figured out that if you take the songs "Viginti Tres" and "Wings for Marie, Pt. 1" and play them in that order WHILE playing "Wings for Marie, Pt. 2", they sync up into one super-song.
  • The Walrus Was Paul: This is a fundamental tenet of the band's output, and one of the main reasons why they don't release lyrics with the albums.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Most of their songs mean something, but it's usually pretty oblique.
  • You Won't Feel a Thing: "Stinkfist", which uses fisting as a metaphor for desensitization.
    Knuckle deep inside the borderline
    This may hurt a little, but it's something you'll get used to
    Relax, slip away


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