Tool’s new album Fear Inoculum is out now.
Let’s get this clear. All the Tool albums are excellent. Not a dud amongst them in my humble opinion. The level of quality they’ve maintained over the last quarter of a century is bettered only by Deftones. And that’s just because Deftones have released more albums. Let’s get ranking.
Opiate, the debut EP from Tool, released in 1993, touches ever so briefly on their strengths. ‘Hush’ is proto-Tool. Downtuned riffs, biting lyrics regarding censorship, and a powerful drum performance courtesy of Danny Carey. At this point, as is the case with debut album Undertow, the outfit had yet to unlock the natural-sounding rhythm that has become one of their many calling cards. They sound a bit restricted or restrained.
Worth the entrance fee for a ferocious version of ‘Pushit’ and a mesmerising cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘No Quarter’. As yet the only official live release since Justin Chancellor joined on bass in 1995. This one displays how tremendously powerful Tool can be in a live setting. Even without their unique approach to live visuals, they are perhaps the most impressive live band of their generation.
Like Opiate, Undertow sounds like a band continuing to explore and try to reach their full potential. At times Tool achieve it, as on the absolutely stellar single ‘Sober’ and the simply terrifying album closer ‘Disgustipated’. However, elsewhere the album lacks the unhinged propulsiveness that would arrive on their next album.
A pretty formidable return after thirteen years. As usual, the performances are technically mind-blasting while songs like ‘Invincible’ and ‘Pneuma’ are among their best. However, for me, there’s a lack of dynamic and stylistic diversity on the record. Each song, except for ‘7empest’, essentially follows the same template. On top of those, a couple of the songs could be condensed to be more effective. Still, much better than anyone could have expected.
This one is a real grower. I recall there being much unrest in the Tool fan camps upon its release in 2006. People felt there weren’t enough songs and the songs that were included were substandard. Looking at the track-list now that seems bloody stupid. ‘Vicarious’, ‘Jambi’, the title track, ‘Rosetta Stoned’. Epic. Still though, it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Lateralus and Ænima. But then, what does?
Tool at the top of their game. An album that marries MJK hooks galore, Adam Jones’ ferocious guitar workouts, Justin Chancellor’s elastic bass lines, and Danney Carey’s entrancing and pummeling drums. ‘Schism’ is one of the most captivating lead singles ever. ‘Ticks and Leeches’ itches and scratches with nervous energy. ‘Parabola’ sports one of the greatest riffs ever put to tape. The only thing is, is that it’s not Ænima.
The song ‘Ænema’ was my introduction to Tool. I saw it on Superrock on MTV2 at about 1 am one Tuesday morning. It boggled my mind. I had no idea whether I liked it or hated it. And so it intrigued me. One of the greatest albums ever. Just look at the track listing:
4. Useful Idiot
5. 46 & 2
6. Message to Harry Manback
7. Hooker with a Penis
10. Die Eier Von Satan
12. Cesaro Summability
14. (-) Ions
15. Third Eye