TOOL (Band) - A Beginners Guide

So what is this?

It’s a quick run down of one of the great Rock/Heavy/Progressive bands.

I know when someone says “check this band out” I jump on Spotify or YT, and basically listen to the most listened songs. How else do you know where to start? It obviously doesn’t do the band any justice, some of a bands best work isn’t the most viewed cough Radiohead – Creep cough.

Won’t go into their history, Wiki is there for you. Will keep this succinct. Please also know this isn’t fact based, unbiased or objective. This is very much my experience, thoughts and feelings on what is probably my favourite band. It’s biased to what I like and is subjectively my thoughts. You may disagree, and that is fine. Please feel welcome to add anything of note. We’re all here for the music!

Who knows what drew me to them in the first place? But I do think I’m a sucker for syncopation, polyrhythms and all round odd and changing time signatures.

Only recently has any TOOL been available to be streamed, so it’s a great time to get into them now, so readily accessible.

There is a TL:DR version at the end in for all of those with short attenti…you’re already gone aren’t you…

Who is TOOL?

Los Angeles 4 piece band. Formed around 1990. They release albums slowly, sometimes very slowly.

Maynard – Singer and all-round strange and smart fellow. Makes Wine.

Adam Jones – Guitarist, riff writer, and art director.

Danny Carey – Drums. Sort of guy world class drummers stare at in amazement.

Justin Chancellor – Bass.

Who am I?

No-one of note. I’ve just been listening to them for a long time (20 years or so), interested in headphones for a long time, and I like these Forums. Thought people might like a quick little run down. This is literally the first review/piece of anything structured that I’ve written.

ALBUMS

Real short run down of their Discography, the popular tracks that get the streams, and the not-so-popular tracks that are just as good as far as I’m concerned.

Opiate – EP 1992

Very much the early days for TOOL. Recordings are more bare bones. Don’t start here, come back here. Snippets of later TOOL songs and part of songs/riffs can be heard in this EP.

Popular Tracks: Part of Me, Hush, Opiate

Undertow - 1993

Starting to get more into the main TOOL sound. More filled out and complex arrangements, more variation to Maynard’s singing. The main track “Sober” can be seen in its raw early form in the late 80’s with Maynard and C.A.D.

Popular Tracks: Sober

My picks : Prison Sex, Undertow

Aenima - 1996

Many would call this their best - their favourite album. Its bigger and fuller again, you can hear their progression each album. More and more ambient (but heavy/dark) like infills that will become the staple of some of their more recent albums. Some great headphone moments with the drums in this album. “O’Keefe Music Foundation” do a great cover of 46&2 on Youtube.

Popular Tracks: Forty Six & 2, Stinkfist

My picks: Eulogy, H., Aenema

Lateralus - 2001

Again, a favourite of many. More refinement to their sound. Drums in this album are excellent. A very complete album start to finish. Possibly their most well-known song is off this album (Schism), and one of the more talked about compositions (Lateralus) and its relation to the Fibonacci sequence.

Popular Tracks: Schism, Lateralus

My Picks : Disposition (then into Reflection), Ticks & Leeches

10,000 Days - 2006

This album split a few people from memory. Hard core early TOOL fans may not have been a fan, but if you listen to each album, it feels right. Feels like a progression, at least to me it does. If I had to choose one TOOL album, it would either be this or Lateralus.

Popular Tracks : The Pot, Vicarious, Jambi

My Pick: Right in Two, Wings for Marie (Pt 1 & Pt 2)

Fear Inoculum - 2019

13 years later. Waited 13 years for this album……and its good. Some say its boring or more “dad rock”. But to me its excellent. They are all much older than they were when they made Aenima, get over it.

Its slower, each main track is long and there are long periods of instrumentals. And yes, some tracks have some clipping of sorts (as do some other albums of theirs). Drums, once again, excellent though. Danny is something else.

Main Tracks: Fear Inoculum, Pneuma, 7empest

My Picks: Descending, Invincible

FAQ & TL:DR

I don’t have time to read this, I’m a busy Somebody. I have 30 minutes to see if I like TOOL. Hit me.

Schism

Lateralus

The Pot

7empest

I don’t have time to read this or even 30 minutes. I have 6:44 minutes to see if I like TOOL. Hit me.

Schism - If you don’t like this song, you won’t like TOOL. It has all the staple elements that make them who they are.

I like TOOL, what else might I like?

A Perfect Circle – Is the easy choice. Maynard still on Vocals. Not quite as dark and moody and artistic. Some great songs though. Check out “Judith”, “The Outside”, “The Doomed” and “3 Libras”.

Radiohead – Is the not so obvious choice. Both bands exceptional musicians, and although not as heavy as TOOL, have the same dark and moody overall feel. They also share a love of odd time signatures, syncopation and polyrhythms. I can’t sum up Radiohead in 3 or 4 recommended songs, sorry.

I don’t like TOOL, but I have a dope headphone rig and I’d like to tell my friends I listened to TOOL for the street cred. What do you recommend?

Stick on Chocolate Chip Trip. Get through the little intro part and enjoy some Headphone Candy drum solo. No vocals on this track.

Anything else I should know?

They have some really great and creepy claymation videos for a few of their songs. The guitarist, Adam, directs and makes a lot of the art associated with TOOL. I remember watching them on late night RAGE back in the 90’s, good times. (RAGE was a Aussie “video hits” type program, mostly showed the not-so-mainstream scene, uncensored videos and lyrics, on late night/early morning etc).

12 Likes

Lol! Maybe it’s the Dad in me but I love that album!! So sick!

5 Likes

Me too, me too. Because it took so long to release, I didn’t get to experience it without being a Dad, but I suspect I’d still have loved it.

4 Likes

Excellent writeup Ben. Not heard much Tool but I certainly shall give it a go. Thanks.

2 Likes

I really enjoy their album “Fear Inoculum”

4 Likes

I love Tool too! My fav album is 10,000 Days, and I saw them in Everett, WA, USA on the 10,000 days tour. It was great.

6 Likes

Awesome. Isn’t everyones taste. Overall they are quite heavy.

Fear Inoculum is probably the most digestable one if you stick it on in the background and go about your web browsing.

3 Likes

Great write up! Guess ill be listening to some TOOL this week :smile: I’ve listened to some TOOL in the past. A friend of mine introduced me to Lateralus which was great, I just got sucked into something else at that time and am glad you took the time to write this up so I have an opportunity to give them another chance!

1 Like

Nice! Lareralus is a killer album.

1 Like

Yeah, not really into this sort of stuff but I will give anything a try once. And thank you.

1 Like

I agree, I almost feel like Fear Inoculum Album is a great intro to someone that has never heard them @prfallon69 , then you can go deeper into their music after you get a feel for it if you want, it’s impressive the way it was recorded, I doubt it will sound great however from bright analytical headphones.

1 Like

Best thread ever about the best band ever … well one of but still. Been following them since Aenima and also I learned to play drums in high school. One simply doesn’t learn to play drums without learning to play Schism!

3 Likes

Let me add one more info to the amazing writeup - Maynard sang as the second vocalist for " Know Your Enemy" by Rage against the Machine.

1 Like

Im a fan. I remember loving Undertow in early college. And the following albums seemed to appear, rather than being released. Like they were elemental things springing from the ether.

2 Likes

He did! He also pops up on a few other tracks now and then which is awesome. Passenger by Deftones is a good one he is on. Deftones, another good band!

Also obviously has his spoof band “Puscifer”. They actually have some good songs too. And some straight up weird stuff.

Great write up. 63 y/o fan hear. Puscifer, another of Maynard’s bands is one you might like. I’ve been fortunate to see Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer live.

1 Like

I saw Tool back in about 2008, and unfortunately missed out on tickets to them play just last week here in Brisbane, Australia. Bit gutted.

Maybe I should try his wine sometime too. Probably hard to get in Aus.

IMO the band wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without the claymation videos. Claymation was a big thing in the early 90s, following The Dancing Raisins, I Heard it Through the Grapevine, Green Jelly’s Three Little Pigs, and more. Tool aimed Sober at the creepy, brooding, dark teen/young-adult male market and hit a home run. Then kept at making creepy videos for the next few albums.

I personally learned to never buy a used Tool CD. The seller would say “excellent” condition and it would arrive scratched and unusable. This happened 3 times! (I was a slow learner.)

I rate A Perfect Circle’s Thirteenth Step equal to any Tool album (as a spinoff band), but only that album.

1 Like

Q: I don’t like TOOL. Is there any good music that I might like?

A. Probably not. But you might try

  1. Steeleye Span https://open.spotify.com/track/2wFD2gI53E8b7WLHdn7Pjc
  2. Alpha Blondy https://open.spotify.com/track/44niAGVd6DU0Aa5DwMltPd
  3. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs https://open.spotify.com/track/4IH5lTbjFyss8gZpcoNuNN
  4. The Dave Clark Five https://open.spotify.com/track/2w8oMeJjXn1KTnU2fr9eFB
  5. Isao Tomita https://open.spotify.com/track/5un57MpzshIe0h93FZk6o8
  6. The Evil Genius Orchestra https://open.spotify.com/track/6FHFIJCrj5g16BDXSKfHzT
  7. MC Hawking https://open.spotify.com/track/5xTVDMJjVp0FY5FDFLaCs0
1 Like

I like to listen to Earl and Lester every now and then. Such skill. True pioneers.

1 Like