While a bunch of metal fans are drooling with glee at the news that Tool are finally releasing a new album on August 30th, I’m thinking “Why?” Don’t get me wrong, I loved Tool as much as the next confused, misunderstood, rage-infected young American….25 years ago. It’s been 13 years since they released an album. Since then singer Maynard James Keenan has become extremely successful making wine(seriously, the guy knows how to make an incredible bottle of vino), making albums when it suits him with his side project Puscifier, and just generally living a pretty quiet life. He doesn’t seem all that interested in making more music with Tool. The other guys? I know Danny Carey keeps busy playing in other projects. I mean, when there’s 13 years between records, making more Tool music doesn’t seem like much of a priority. Then there’s the little hints and bones being thrown at the hardcore fans from the band for the past few years about the follow-up to 10,000 Days, only for them to be cruel little untruths. It almost seemed like the band enjoyed screwing with gullible metal heads more than actually making a new record.
But here we are, an official release date. And two online videos of the band playing two new songs. I watched one of those videos. The song was called “Invincible” and it sounded like a Tool song. Like, nearly every other Tool song you’ve heard. That’s neither good nor bad. It’s not bad because hey, it sounds like the Tool everyone loved in 1996. But then it’s not all that good because there’s nothing new to report in the Tool camp after 13 years of dormancy. Same build-ups, same guitar tone, some tribal drums, some polyrhythms, same Maynard delivery, and climaxing with the big metal finish. Is this what the metal world has been waiting on for all these years?
Listen, I loved Tool for most of the 90s. They were aggressive, dark, artsy, and Keenan was one of the most polarizing and intriguing singers in rock and roll at that time. And more than anything, Tool introduced me to the absolute genius of Bill Hicks. So they’ll always have a special place in my heart. But at some point things got way too same-y for me. Songs got longer and never seemed to develop past a build-up to nowhere. Lateralus was just pretty bland for my ears. Never found my groove with that record. I saw them on the Lateralus tour in the summer of 2001, too. It was an interesting show. The band sounded amazing, but there was an intermission with what sounded like German organ music playing and two guys climbing giant ropes on stage. By then I was about 8 beers into the evening and it all started feeling like a really disturbing dream. I did buy 10,000 Days in 2006. I felt it was an improvement from Lateralus, and was excited to see where they went from there.
13 years later…
Sure, they sound tight and into it. That’s cool. I don’t know, I suppose I’ve moved on. If you’re happy they’re back, then I’m happy for you. Savor it. Devour every Tool morsel presented to you, because you never know when more will be presented. But by then, you may be an AARP member and could get discounted tickets for a show. Or at the very least senior parking privileges.