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 definitelysucceed.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 Dumbfrom 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")
"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 "and no eggs". 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.
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.
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.
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: invoked: "Tool" is slang for 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.
Hidden Track: "The Gaping Lotus Experience" at the end of Opiate.
Humans Are Bastards: "Vicarious"note humanity uses TV as a tool for schadenfreude, "Right In Two"note two angels bemoaning our violent nature, 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.
"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.
Or as high as an 8, on a few occasions. Not often, though.
"Lateralus" is all over the place with just one song. It starts calmly, as a 1. Then, once the guitar kicks in, it becomes around a 7, before tuning down to 5-6 range with the vocals. The chorus is about a 7 again, twisting down to a 2, and building up again all the way to 8. It fades out at 7 again.
"Schism" is also a little wacky when it comes to this, bouncing between 1, 7, and every level in between; it's a high 3 or a low 4 overall.
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".
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".
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.
A good chunk of their earlier catalogue is built on this ("Hush"note to media censorship, "Eulogy"note to hypocritical demagogues, "Hooker with a Penis"note to "selling out" criticisms, "Ănema"note to Los Angeles culture, 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.
Unintentional Period Piece: "Hooker With a Penis" was obviously written before the age of online file sharing. There's no guarantee that any fan of a musical artist has ever paid a dime to listen to their music.
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.