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TOOL

Experimental/Post Metal • United States


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Tool biography
Formed in Los Angeles, California, USA in 1990 - Still active as of 2019

TOOL formed with Maynard James KEENAN (vocals), Adam JONES (guitar), Paul D'AMOUR (bass) and Danny CAREY (drums). The band is well known for their disturbing lyrics, creative groundbreaking musicianship and imaginative music videos.

Singer Maynard James KEENAN has collaborated with bands such as NINE INCH NAILS, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and provides vocals for A PERFECT CIRCLE. The singer is well known for having a supernatural ability to hold long notes with his voice. Adam JONES is a very skilled guitarist who also creates the band's videos and artwork. He was also chosen to be on the effects team for the movie "Terminator 2". The band often spend quite a few years writing and recording their albums in order to make them perfect and there is often a gap of 5 years between each studio album.

The band's first full length album is 1993's "Undertow", which played an important role of sculpturing and pioneering the prog metal scene that exists today. TOOL mastered the lengthy song structures, guitar effects, unique riffs and solo's backed up by KEENAN's amazing voice that can stretch long notes. Three years later the follow up "Aenima" was released, a masterpiece which received excellent reviews and was a clear step up from the previous album. This includes a mixture of anger fueled songs and emotional, tortured songs. The album also settled for a more progressive sound and contained many lengthy pieces.

2001 saw the band's masterpiece, "Lateralus". It was almost impossible to better the last album but they pulled it off. This lengthy album showed off the band's lyrical and musical skills to the maximum. One of the best prog rock albums I've ever heard. The album was succeeded by another five year hiatus where the band members worked on their side projects.

2006 finally saw the band's eagerly awaited new album "10,000 Days" which was initially met with praise from both the fans and critics, making it their second album to top the Billboard 200. Over time, the album began to lose some of its initial praise due to the material's less ambitious content when compared to "Lateralus".

The band is currently on another hiatus where KEENAN is mainly occupied with his latest side project PUSCIFER while JONES and CAREY have began to do the ground work for the band's fifth album. ...
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TOOL discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

TOOL top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.21 | 599 ratings
Undertow
1993
4.08 | 943 ratings
苙ima
1996
4.21 | 1581 ratings
Lateralus
2001
3.87 | 952 ratings
10,000 Days
2006
3.73 | 257 ratings
Fear Inoculum
2019

TOOL Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

TOOL Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TOOL Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.65 | 138 ratings
Salival
2000

TOOL Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.57 | 21 ratings
72826
1991
2.84 | 234 ratings
Opiate (EP)
1992
3.76 | 32 ratings
Prison Sex
1993
4.29 | 42 ratings
Sober
1993
3.82 | 37 ratings
Stinkfist
1996
3.86 | 37 ratings
苙ema
1996
3.50 | 4 ratings
H.
1997
4.02 | 38 ratings
Forty Six & 2
1997
3.56 | 56 ratings
Parabola
2005
3.88 | 62 ratings
Schism
2005
3.76 | 57 ratings
Vicarious
2007
3.94 | 32 ratings
Fear Inoculum
2019

TOOL Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fear Inoculum by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.73 | 257 ratings

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Fear Inoculum
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Isaac Peretz

3 stars Fear Inoculum is Tool's fifth album, it sounds like a simple statement but considering it came out 13-Years after 10.000 Days... It's a pretty important statement. After 13 years, you would expect a fresh Tool with new ideas and ways to impress people right? After all it's been thirteen damn years.

What Fear Inoculum presents us is eighty minutes of the same ideas over and over again. That doesn't necessarily mean it's bad, Danny Carey is still a beast, Justin made some awesome bass work, Maynard impregnated his trademark Tool voice and Adam Jones was an incredibly boring guitarist as usual, so nothing really changed that much. To be honest this album is pretty good for any die- hard Tool fan that enjoys any of their songs, I am one of those fans. The problem comes in how dull the music itself is.

Take as an example the title track. Odd time signatures, Danny Carey using percussion instruments (Like in reflection), Justin Chancellor providing something nice bass, some atmospheric segments around the middle of the song... this is all great, but the thing is that these characteristics can be applied to every single other song in the album. Aenima, for example, had songs like Stink Fist that were serious head banging material, Eulogy which felt like four songs in one, Third Eye which would send you to another world with its Trance-ish vibe.... all those songs have unique characteristics that the rest of the album didn't have. In Fear Inoculum, all songs feel like one. You could've merged all those six songs into one and it would literally feel like one. Not to forget how even the points that are meant to be a climax aren't that impactful. Pneuma's climax which is at the end, is the same verse that you had been hearing throughout the rest of the song, same with 7empest and Descending. Invincible is the only one with a climax unique compared with the rest of the song, but then it just gets ruined by the album's mixing, which is the next point.

Nothing sounds too heavy. One of the things Tool is pretty known for is their capability of banging your head with an incredibly heavy odd-time-signature riff, take as an example Forty Six & Two, Vicarious, The Grudge or Ticks & Leeches. When Fear Inoculum throws you a climax that's meant to punch you towards the sky, it gets softened by the albums mixing: It's way too polished and it removes the raw emotion of the track and album itself. Finally, the four interludes of the album are a colossal waste of time. Boring, uninteresting, un memorable, and annoying like Chocolate Chip Trip. Doing a full listen of this album is almost impossible because of these tracks.

Overall: It's good, but more of the same, and overly dull. I still find enjoyment in it but honestly? It's Tool's worst album.

 Fear Inoculum by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.73 | 257 ratings

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Fear Inoculum
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by dougmcauliffe

5 stars When this album came out I watched a vocal group of Tool fans tear it to shreds and endlessly crap on it. Was it really a big disappointment? A stinker perhaps? Or was it just that it could never live up to the hype and expectations in the heads of Tool fans after over a decade wait? All of that is irrelevant to me, general consensus is determined by the first people to put their opinions out there. That or reviewers on the internet with influence (Anthony Fantano gave this album a 4/10). When this album came out nothing by this band ever did anything for me, and I really tried. However, this album swept me off my feet and continues to do so today easily cementing itself as my favorite Tool record. I've come around a bit to Aenima and Lateralus, but I don't often sit through those albums front to back. If I want to hear Tool, this is what i'm reaching for an overwhelming majority of the time. This is a cohesive and dense album with nearly every track stretching over 10 minutes taking you through these polyrhythmic mazes of unconventional riffage and incredibly developed drumming. On this album Tool has mastered the art of subtly sleekly building up each song taking you on a journey into the depths of a very dark place. The production is ear candy with these crisp and layered electronics, clear and punchy bass, incredible drum sound and a simply nasty guitar tone. The title track kicks things off with this brooding and menacing introduction that just gets me fired up with these kinda tribal-esque drums and reverberating bass all around you. The vocals hit you in flowing waves while the guitar teases you in the background. The song reaches a satisfying and powerful payoff eventually transitioning into twisting and more striding passage in the second half. For the final minute and a half they start firing on all cylinders with great aggression and intensity ushered in by filthy guitar tones. The second track Pneuma is my favorite on the album, it melts my brain every single time. It opens with this earthy and more free flowing introduction kicking into amazing and complex bass and guitar riffage enhanced by the drum parts accompanying and playing around it. The chorus is just head-bobbing ecstasy. At around the 6:08 mark it kicks into this indescribable passage with steady electronic drumming and penetrating face-melting synths/electronics. Every time I hear those drums fade in I can't help but smile, there's something so psychedelic about this passage as layers upon layers stack and soar around you. This leads back into the main riff, now heavier, faster, and slightly altered concluding on an explosive note. Invincible opens with windy riffage while the other instruments set the stage and play around this lead guitar line. For several minutes this song quietly grows until the band is coming in full power underneath a memorable hook. They break into a thundering instrumental break briefly before kicking back into that chorus which leads right back into another incredible instrumental playout where the drumming is just baffling. Those tasty electronics join back in with these hypnotic vocals mid way through this jam. The song reaches an intense crescendo reprising the intro guitar riff at full force. I found this song to be more of a slowburn and one that really grabbed me after a few listens. Descending is possibly the least conventional song here opening up with a few minutes of these ineffable and subtle instrumentals melting, or properly descending around you. I just don't understand how people can reach this level of musical creativity. It's the point where I struggle to even write about this track because there is just so much going on at all times, the meter is completely off the charts while never sounding forced or out of place. Culling Voices has these more melancholy guitars starting the song off. The vocals join in creating one of the more minimal and intimate feeling moments on the album. While to vocals are delivered with great emotion, the guitar contrasts it with a more off kilter and slightly uncomfortable choice of notes and chords playing beneath it. This meditative section goes on for quite a while actually really taking its time and when the rest of the band comes in, it doesn't immediately explode into a fiery jam like you would expect. Rather they kinda contribute to the already existing somewhat droning feel of the track. At 6:33 things noticeably pick up before reaching that big heavy pay-off you could feel coming. Chocolate Chip Trip is a bizarre somewhat avant garde electronic backed drum solo like nothing else I've ever heard. This unorthodox atonal electronic melody pierces in and remains a constant as Danny Carey goes absolutely ham alongside it. The track eventually sorta fizzles out. 7empest is the closing track and it's really just exciting start to finish. Out of all the songs this one is the most immediately heavy and "straight out the gate swinging." It opens with a short little picked guitar riff with what sounds like an electric harpsichord (my best guess) accompanying it. Soon after it drops into an awesome looming riff with the vocals following thereafter. Of all the songs on the album this one to me sounds the most like some of the material off whats generally considered the classic tool albums with its alternative metal tinge in the vocals. I love the kind of alarming guitar section that starts at 5:38 playing on top of a headbanging rhythm section. This extended solo really develops seamlessly leading into the next section of the song with some harder hitting slightly harsher vocals. The passage straight out of this is glorious with its trash-crash symbol and groovy guitar/bass riff. The finish to this song is great as it eases and settles out of the heaviness combining both a reprise of the opening section with the rhythm section playing another riff from the song on top of it. It took me a bit to pick up on this but it's very creatively done. It's a really fantastic conclusion to this staggering album.

I bow to no one, I love this album. I rarely sit down and listen to albums start to finish that stretch over an hour, but at about 80 minutes, this proves to be an exception to that. I don't know what else to add, it's just creative, massive, rewarding and flat out awesome music. I was not a Tool fan until I heard this album but even with that it proved to be a very challenging undertaking that I still am continuing to wrap my head around with each successive listen. Do not enter this album with any preconceived notions based on some of the stuff you can hear on Rateyourmusic or Tool forums. Give this album time and it will reveal itself.

 10,000 Days by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.87 | 952 ratings

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10,000 Days
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars 5 years after the acclaimed Lateralus, Tool presents 10,000 days, an album that without reaching the compositional or musical levels of the previous album, leaves us excellent songs and that to this day continue to form a fundamental part of their live concerts. Two approaches have been mentioned regarding the origin of the album title, one is that the mother of singer Maynard James Keenan suffered a brain aneurysm that had her prostrate approximately 27 years (almost 10,000 days) before dying in 2003, and the other that has to do with the time it takes Saturn to orbit (a little closer to 11,000 days), and the opportunity that time gives humans to transform and leave behind behaviors that do not allow it to develop to have a fuller life .

As for the musical aspect, we find fundamental songs that are part of the indelible seal of Tool, starting with the powerful Vicarius, a criticism of the insensitivity of society to the mountain of violent and dark news to which the newscasts constantly subject people. An excellent song, followed by the no less powerful Jambi, which shows the influence of the Swedish extreme progressive metal group Messhuggah on Adam Jones' riffs, after previously sharing touring together.

They are followed by Wings for Marie part 1 and 2, composed in gratitude to Keenan's mother, Judith Marie, previously mentioned,. Part 1 is very heartfelt and has excellent musical content, which has an extraordinary moment in its development when both Carey on drums and Jones on guitars make it in seconds that the calm and dense song enters a tumultuous roller coaster for then return to its resting state. In my opinion the second part doesn't add much more to the first, being extensive and monotonous at times.

Then The Pot, excellent song, trademark of the group, where we find an impeccable presentation of bassist Justin Chancellor, with a wide variety of effects that at times can confuse the bass with the sounds of a guitar (wah-wah, delay, among others).

Lipan Conjuring, is one of the usual interludes in Tool, but they don't add points to the album in musical terms, like Intension and Viginti Tres, in my opinion without much relevance and dispensable.

Then we found again a very good song of more than 11 minutes (Rosetta Stoned), and a long introduction (Lost Keys- Blame Hofmann) of almost 4 minutes, dramatic and very well done. It is the apparent journey under the influence of LSD of a patient, who talks in the introduction with his doctor and nurse, and refers to the discoverer of the hallucinogen, Albert Hofmann. ' Right in Two, the last great song on the album, is in the same vein as The Pot and Jambi, and reflects on the good and the bad of the human being and on the unpredictability and volatility of their actions.

In general lines a very good album, perhaps a little step behind the Lateralus. After 10,000 Days, Tool took over 13 very long years for its next and long-awaited Fear Inoculum.

 苙ima by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.08 | 943 ratings

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苙ima
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars The second album by Tool marks the change of Paul D碼mour on bass by the Englishman Just韓 Chancellor, and with it also a more consistent proposal in the band's musical structure. In this second installment, the sound takes on a depth and darkness clearly represented in Keenan's lyrics and Jones' guitar, whose distinctive riffs have been maintained throughout his subsequent discography, and are those that accompany them until his recent Fear Inoculum. .

Tool's unique style is defined from the Aenima, and leads us through diverse topics as deep as controversial (the presence and role of Jesus on earth in Eulogy, the evolution of the primitive human and his next stage in Forty Six & 2, the constantly being at the limit of doing something that should not be done and falling for it in Pu[&*!#], the criticism of the way in which society is structured and the need for a profound change starting with the purification of the soul in Aenema, among others).

In the musical aspect, the album maintains a very high level, where we can clearly highlight Anema, which during the more than 6 minutes long they take us through a slide of emotions from the hand of the masterful Jones and Carey's excellent drums, going from calm to chaotic tempos without ever losing composure. In my opinion it is probably one of the top songs of the group of all time. At a similar level we can highlight Forty Six & 2, where again Jones's guitars, this time combining a clean and distorted sound, and Carey's drums, give us another anthology song. Unmissable within the most representative themes of the band. Stinkfist follows in their footsteps, like a fundamental piece of the album.

Both Pu[&*!#], H, Eulogy, Jimmy and Hooker with a Penis also show us the high level of the group but without detracting from them, I consider that they are a slight step below the previous songs.

Useful idiot, Ions, Cesaro Summability and Message to Harry Manback, beyond some dramatic sounds and the disturbing message on the answering machine, are the additions that Tool usually incorporates in his recordings but that in my opinion do not add much value to the album.

A special consideration for Third Eye, the final song on the album. The spectacular almost 14 minutes of the most progressive song and we could say dark and reflective, become an exploration of the human psyche based on what is considered the third eye.

A fundamental album to understand much of the appeal and why they have a large legion of fans. An album that combines unique music outside the standard and lyrics that accompany it to the height.

 苙ima by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.08 | 943 ratings

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苙ima
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

3 stars When the topic of prog metal gets brought up in a discussion about music at any point, Tool is likely one of the bands that you'll hear being mentioned, with their mix of prog and alternative metal being able to appeal to quite a wide audience in a compelling, intelligent way. That is of course, when they're at their peak. While Aenima is undoubtedly a huge step up from the extremely one note Undertow, I personally still feel as if the band hadn't quite matured at this point to be able to make an album that was truly great. While the compositions became far more complex, refined and explorative, I believe that the album lacks a couple of extremely important things, the biggest being variety. This album mostly conveys a very limited range of emotions such as anger and hatred, without much positivity to go around, something that probably could have worked better if not for the other issue here, a lack of restraint. Most of these songs could probably be cut down by a couple of minutes without much hassle, and the interludes throughout also weaken the overall experience, especially when you take into account the length of this album, overall making it an impressive album in some regards, but one that fails to completely stick the landing.

With all that said, the album opener, Stinkfist is extremely strong, with an incredibly groovy riff that gives the song a really fun energy that carries on throughout the entire song, with the nice, mid-tempo feel being absolutely perfect. The other aspect of the song that really solidifies this being as good as it is is how smoothly, yet effectively the chorus escalates the aggression of the song. Eulogy continues this trend very nicely, starting off with a similar sort of minimalistic intro before the dense instrumentation bursts in. While I may have complained about the limited emotional range here, I cannot deny that when Maynard goes all out, this vitriol is so powerful, as it is here. The sarcasm that can be heard through the heavily distorted vocals of the verses is a prime example of this, even if the chorus may be a bit on the lacklustre side. The best moment of the song is easily the last couple of minutes where Maynard just starts shouting and the sarcasm becomes pure rage backed up by some amazing riffing. Similarly, the song Hooker With A Penis stands out for almost entirely ditching the slower prog sensibilities in favour of creating a hard hitting metal track that is absolutely full of aggression in an entertaining way, especially with how clearly pissed off Maynard is throughout, even compared to most of his other songs.

Usually on this album, when a song is good it's because of one of 2 reasons, either the riff is good, or the chorus is good, which is what makes the eerie, mysterious sounding Forty Six & Two such a beloved song amongst fans, beginning with one of their absolute greatest intros, with a slow, sinister buildup backed up by an incredible riff. The quieter nature of this first couple of minutes is easily one of the best cases of Maynard being more nuanced in his delivery as the band backs him up perfectly, with a much less dense instrumental section creating one of the only truly different sounding songs on the album. The 2 other songs that deserve a lot of praise are the title track and Third Eye. Aenima is an entertaining, fast paced song with a really fun chorus, and while it may not do anything too out there or unique, it definitely is one of the best realised tracks on the album. It's pretty clear why Third Eye is considered such a good track on the album as well, being 12 minutes in length and not wasting a single one, fully embracing their proggy side to create such an expansive track that demonstrates just how great prog jamming can truly be under the right circumstances, all leading up to the greatest moment on the album, where everything stops outside of Maynard screaming 'prying open my third eye' as the drum beat feels as if its thrashing you on the back of the head with a hammer, bringing the album to a close on an incredibly high note.

Of course, as previously mentioned, I don't think that this album is all good by any means. The biggest problem I hear is a combination of issues that ultimately result in a large issue, and that's the mixing combined with the lack of variety that can be found here. Despite some songs being able to make the best out of this, I often found the songs here to sound extremely muddy with a lot of the finer details feeling completely washed out, which when combined with a lot of the songs sounding very similar, leads to an album that I end up forgetting a number of the tracks outside of very specific moments within them. I also feel like they could have cut out a good 20 minutes of this without anything too major being lost, in terms of songs, this especially rings true to both Jimmy and especially Push-it, neither of which managing to leave much of an impression on me at all outside of it being cool that Jimmy's opening riff is a slowed down version of Intermission. The interludes are where the album really becomes less enjoyable than it needed to be, since it hits a point where after H., literally every second track is another pointless interlude, with the only one that's even marginally of value being the aforementioned Intermission, simply because I love the Monty Python and the Holy Grail vibes it gives off.

Overall, while I definitely believe that this is a much better constructed and written album than Undertow, I still don't believe that Aenima is truly where Tool displayed a lot of their potential, with a lot of the incredible stuff being balanced out to a degree by mediocrity and pointlessness. I definitely find this an album of merit, even if a lot of it comes down to some individual moments rather than a case of being consistently great, but I really think that this could have been a much better album if it were only 50 minutes and they cut out the pointless filler. At least Tool stopped having so many interludes after this album, at the very least.

Best tracks: Stinkfist, Forty Six & Two, Aenima, Third Eye, Hooker With a Penis

Weakest tracks: Literally every interlude, Jimmy, Push-it

Verdict: Better than mediocrity doesn't necessarily mean amazing, as Aenima proves. For as great as some of the songs here can be, the album is needlessly long and bears a similar problem to Undertow in terms of being at times painfully one note. Fortunately, despite saying that, I feel like there's a really great 50-minute album hidden in here, and many songs are just straight up incredible to the point where I can forgive it to an extent.

 苙ima by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 1996
4.08 | 943 ratings

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苙ima
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Though I am not really very enamored (or even tolerant) of metal--especially tech/"extreme" metal--there is something profoundly alluring and interesting about Tool music. I think it's the fact that, despite the thick and heavy chords, there is this kind of etheric spaciousness to the music. Maynard James Keegan's singing is usually so diverse and rarely domineering, like he finds the holes and threads in the music into which he weaves his voice/vocals as if they are another instrument. I find it fascinating.

1. "Stinkfist" (5:11) (8.75/10)

2. "Eulogy" (8:29) a fascinating exploration of space, temporality, and dimensionality. (19.5/20)

3. "H." (6:03) awesome intro of heavily distorted power chords! Brilliant tease of potential energy during the singing parts! Amazing construct! (9.5/10)

4. "Useful Idiot" (0:39) LOL! (4.5/5)

5. "Forty Six & 2" (6:03) great Crimsonian weave. (8,75/10)

6. "Message to Harry Manback" (1:53) super creepy! (4.5/5)

7. "Hooker with a Penis" (4:34) too much for me. (8/10)

8. "Intermission" (0:56) ;) (5/5)

9. "Jimmy" (5:24) some cool vocal techniques, otherwise, too much like a heavier NIRVANA song. (8.5/10)

10. "Die Eier Von Satan" (2:17) You got it! (5/5)

11. "Pu[&*!#]" (9:56) by now, the sound and rhythmic patterns of the music are getting a bit tiring. Still, Keenan's unorthodox vocal talents (and subject matter) are mesmerizing. Great final three minutes of bass & guitar. (18/20)

12. "Cesaro Summability" (1:26) (4.5/5)

13. "苙ema" (6:40) almost like a normally structured song--(at least for the first three minutes)! And multiple tracks used by Maynard! (9/10)

14. "(-) Ions" (4:00) explorations in sound recording and the harmonics of sheet metal manipulations and sequence of electrode sound sample. (8.5/10)

15. "Third Eye" (13:47) Heartbeat. Tape of comedian on drugs & music, weather, while drums and searing heavily distorted guitar fly around. When bass kicks in in the low end around 2:15, a song comes together within which Maynard's treated vocal joins in. Amazing amp up with scream! What a journey this fourteen minutes takes me on! What creativity and courage the band shows! And they bring it to a crescendo and finale better than any other song on the album. (29/30)

A-/five star; a minor masterpiece of hard-driving, brutally honest, syncopated and eccentric heavy prog. Better than Lateralus? Not sure. I'll have to listen to them back-to-back to determine that.

 Fear Inoculum by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.73 | 257 ratings

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Fear Inoculum
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by uribreitman

4 stars There are three great pieces hidden in this over-long project: "Pneuma", "Invincible" and their masterpiece - "Descending". All the rest is not good enough. "Pneuma" is far from perfect but has that old Tool magic; it gives you the feeling of birth, that first breath of life, and it's even optimistic. "Invincible" is the ultimate old-warrior epic. Tool recount their tales of glory, admit they're getting old, and still trying to win some battles here and there. Feelings of nostalgia mixed with the same old rage and change-the-world spirit - a very mature track which doesn't sound too long, although it could have been produced with a richer wall of sound. "Invincible" is the album highlight. Much more than just an anti-Trump piece, it's almost a religious call-to- arms epic. The amazing lyrics by Maynard James Keenan get uplifted with Danny Carey's unbelievable drumming abilities. Not only is this a musical speech to be remembered, it's almost an artistic last will and testament. Only a huge band like Tool can deliver such a triumph to its humble fans. All the rest of the material is almost negligible, or at least way too long, plodding, smeared and sometimes even "filler" to my ears. Was it worth the wait between albums? probably no album in history is worth such an arduous wait. I take these three mini-epics to my heart and carry on. If this is their last album, so be it. I highly recommend "Descending" to any young man in America today. Now we must carry on this heavy burden forward, keep on the fight, because the three Tool guys seem a bit wasted.
 Fear Inoculum by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.73 | 257 ratings

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Fear Inoculum
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars New Tool. Enough said. Of course every proghead worth their salt should find themselves gravitating to this. 13 years later Tool return to the sound that have made them one of the most accomplished bands in recent years and Fear Inoculum does not disappoint as its Tool through and through. Some may argue its too much like old Tool but would you have it any other way. Too many bands try to reinvent their sound and end up destroying what they have. Tool sticks to their trademark sound and then takes us into another realm by the end of this 80 minute opus. The traditional sound is virtuoso musicianship by the drumming powerhouse playing of Danny Carey, the bass masterclass of Justin Chancellor, the guitar technical supremus of Adam Jones, and the clean reflective vocals of Maynard James Keenan.

It opens with Fear Inoculum and a droning buzz guitar heralds proceedings, slow and menacing like The Patient, and as brooding as anything from Lateralus so no complaints from me as i still regard that to be their quintessential masterpiece along with Aenima. The tribal rhythms and nasty bass sound permeate the album and are as good as it gets.

Pneuma follows with a showcase of musical excellence including a melting pot of acoustics, heavy bass, off kilter drum patterns careening into time sigs off the metronome from 5/8 to 7/4 and back to 4/4. The grunge guitar and clean vocals are a chemical balance that resonates perfectly. It ignites into a paroxysm of lightning guitar strikes with 3 chord structure and cymbal splashes. Chancellors bass is incredible 7 mins in and its so refreshing to hear a band experimenting with music the way Tool does. A masterpiece of the album for my ears.

Invincible is even longer at almost 13 minutes, opening with a finger picking solo that i would like to hear someone attempt in a guitar store. It builds gradually with some compelling lyrics about a warrior struggling to remain consequential. A reverb bass takes us deeper into the Tooliverse til it breaks into metal axe chops that slice up the atmosphere, joined by kalimba, didgeridoo and gamelan bells. The odd meter at 6 mins is complimented by a dirty guitar sound and the drums get frenetic with double kicks at the 8 minute mark. Spacey psychedelic vocals augment the trippy music and it gets heavier to its conclusion.

Descending has crashing waves intro generating an atmosphere of blissful isolation.The song begins gently with Keenan in a contemplative mood. The guitar polyrhythms are present and then it gets aggressive at 6 mins in, vocally and with amped up guitars, the type of sound on Parabola. This is dramatic, powerful, exceptional Tool.

Culling Voices starts quietly with angelic guitar picking and gentle vocals, singing Psychopathy misleading me over and over again, judge, condemn and banish any and everyone without evidence, only the whispers from within. Bass adds to the haunting ethereal atmosphere, and a guitar riff sounding similar to intro of Sabbaths Paranoid. The guitars are sharpened with a distorted edge and then it breaks down into reflective nuances with Keenan whispering Don't you dare point that at me. I wouldn't dream of it.

Chocolate Chip Trip is a low point of the album that fills like filler. King Crimson have done similar kanoodling with synths and gamelan bells or chimes, and i was not that impressed with that either. However the track is saved by Careys precise percussion which is killer and as a drummer i cannot help but to simply be in awe of his virtuosity.

Ok 7empest. This is the way to close an album with your best work. It is a 15 minute triumph of progalicious tempo switches, extended soloing, and virtuoso musicianship. It takes the album to another level. Its the go to track for anyone who wants to hear the new Tool. There are blazing guitar solos, tribal drum beats, impressive vocals, and dynamic bass lines. It took me back to the experimental brilliance of Lateralus. Jones is in full flight here as he unleashes fury on his guitar with incredible lead breaks and screaming wails that sound like a banshee. The bass pulsates like a rippling wind as the stormy guitars howl and strike into the heart of the beating drums. I am running out of superlatives. The lead guitar on this is phenomenal. The way Jones punishes his guitar at 7 minutes in is mind blowing. This must be rated as one of the greatest Tool tracks, showing that they still can produce masterful performances.

Of the other instrumental bonus tracks they are atmospheric and a bit weird, especially Mockingbeat not bird that is basically bird noises synthesized. They add nothing to the album which is already a decent enough length.

Overall Fear Inoculum is a great return for Tool, an immersive experience designed for headphones, ticking all the Tool boxes so should not disapoint, unless you are after another Lateralus which is possibly not going to happen. In any case the album delivers and is one of the stand out releases for 2019.

 Lateralus by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 2001
4.21 | 1581 ratings

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Lateralus
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by mental_hygiene

5 stars I started reviewing Tool albums in late august. I was pretty productive with it until I hit Lateralus. This is the big one, the one I've been looking forward too. I literally listened to EVERY track on undertow knowing that something good was coming. Aenima was a bit of that prize, it was an album I wasn't expecting to enjoy as much as I did. Then, I hit Lateralus. It might've been that it was on a road trip, but I didn't get it. It's so much more laid back and spacious, very little of the "in your face" values of their last two. Whereas the last 3 Tool releases were confrontational, Lateralus is like that pool of souls from Hercules.

My criticisms from my first listen (that I took note of) was that this was long and possibly boring. So I tried again and again for about 4 listens doing the usual idle things I do while listening to music (minecraft!!). Then, I put this on while working out. This actually helped me hone in on the first half of the album, through the opening of Ticks and Leeches. But, if you're running, the extended ambient sections starting at that point kill the energy when you need it most.

The Grudge is an awesome track, something that I always found engaging. While the palm muted riffs on the guitar manage to chug along at a rather even pulse, the track never speeds up where it doesn't want to. Danny Carey masterfully plays with the guitar line to build energy or take it away when need be. There's a lot of development that happens in its runtime. "Wear the grudge like a crown" becomes a connecting motif with a characteristic rhythm that pulls together every section. Almost everything repeats at some point, but it's never the same. There is also nothing like the scream around 7 minutes in. The Grudge is also a great introduction to the more thematically mature and introspective Tool. 10/10

Eon Blue Apocalypse is an echo filled ambient interlude that builds from tremolo picked guitar and sets the stage for the Patient. Fun fact, I knew this song before Schism because its name was also the name of a preset in some lighting mod I had for Fallout: New Vegas. That aside, I hated the patient when I first heard it. I can't explain or rationalize how I felt from an experience that happened 2 months ago, but it still stuck with me until I started running to Lateralus. Now I recognise it as another fantastically developped song. The vocal delivery between 3 and 4 minutes is a great moment. The first time I really started to appreciate Adam Jones' riffing was exactly the 2nd time I ran to this, and I just had a moment of awe at 5:30. So much comes together at once that it's hard to process. How do you explain the way a great chord change makes you feel? I think that's a fool's errand, just listen to the track. 9/10

Mantra is another cool interlude that reminds me of what being underwater sounds like. Next comes Schism, a track that has a riff that, while cool to play, does not work out of context. I loathed this song for the longest time because all I knew was the riff. If Schism was just the first section of the song, I would probably not like this song at all, but thankfully we exist in the alternate universe where Schism is a whole 6 minute song. But really, the first half is just a pickup to the second (and better) half. Tool is at their best when they use harmony, and especially vocal harmonies. "Cold silence has a tendency to atrophy any sense of compassion between supposed lovers". That's a mouthful of a lyric, but I couldn't think of a better way to phrase it than what happens here. 8/10

After the relative upbeat-ness of Schism (which is a lie) , everything comes down to a crawl with Parabol. This is a quasi-religious meditative song, brought to you by a band that was literally founded as a dick joke. Now that's what I call progressive. What I just wrote does sound pretty sarcastic, I think it does hold true. I mean, we can put it aside when Devin Townsend has done the same thing, so why not for Tool? On the note of "pain is an illusion" we hit Parabola, the best Tool song. This song actually has the greatest Adam Jones solo, it's tasteful and doesn't at all feel technically limited nor showboat-y. I'm trying to put to words something that is grand but not ecstatic or self- celebratory. Please listen to Parabola. 10/10

What I like about Ticks and Leeches is how much energy it throws at you. This is the heaviest vocal performance thus far in Tool's catalog. Juxtaposed with the spiritual introspection of Parabola is Tool's diss to the music industry. I think it makes thematic sense, having all this introspection put against the harshness of reality and egoism. At risk of becoming vain, Ticks and Leeches cools down for the middle section. The guitar vamps while an angry... rant or whisper (it's hard to tell) goes on quietly. It's almost like this song lights a fire and then immediately extinguishes it and sifts through the ashes, and then it remembers why it started that fire and goes right back into it, but with greater command and maturity. 8/10

Lateralus is another highlight of rhythmic prowess and a great sense of how to develop a song. While Danny Carey hits a tribal pattern on the toms, MJK starts chanting about colors. You have me 100%. But I love the chorus, "Overthinking, over analyzing, separates the body from the mind". It's not just a music thing, it's something that actually made me pause and think about the way I go about music. We have our own experiences of music that are very much entrained reactions to physical phenomenon. When you think about it, analyse it, you risk creating that experience as a monolith within your mind, something that you did not perceive or digest in any way. When this happens, you have a (drumroll) schism between your body and mind. Point is: accept your experience, live through your experience, think about your experience, but if you try to block it into every detail so that it makes sense to maybe a computer, you've lost the experience that made it important to you. That was a great lesson that this album gave me, and I really hope this doesn't come across as pretentious nonsense because I felt really moved by this. 10/10

Around this point I was trying to understand the final quarter of this album. You might think that it would be a matter of substances as per usual when trying to "get" stuff that is progressive or psychedelic. I found the opposite was true, just my opinion. It makes it harder to latch onto anything, which may make the droning parts cool, but the active parts (aka the whole other half of this album) breezes right by without a thought. So I exercised again, but this time I lifted weights through Ticks and Leeches, took a break for Lateralus, and ran for the rest.

Disposition is a collage of guitar harmonics and some really soothing buzzing noise. There's a lot sprinkled in here, like an acoustic guitar. It all forms a cohesive and almost ambient drone. After some distinctive percussion comes in, a very pitch shifted guitar signal starts sparkling from above. This fades into Reflection, which continues to be meditative in the same vein. This is a hard song to keep track of, and I think that's the point. It's not ambient, but it does just "happen" in front of you. There's a lot of reverse-reverb chanting and guitar tracks that come and go. By 7 minutes, the song has snuck up on you. Reflection is the most fluid song off of Lateralus. 9/10.

Coming second to last is Triad, a very menacing prog metal instrumental. What I think is really interesting is how cyclic it feels without necessarily being predictable. The first half of it is spent building up to a climax that happens 3 minutes it. This is an exhiliarating finale to the album in that the next track is the cooldown to this, but not in a traditional sense at all. 9/10.

Faaip de Oiad is terrifying. There's something about the way the manic drums and disturbing electronic noises combine with the area 51 call that gives it a sinking feeling. This reminds me of the experiences I had when I was younger watching Aphex Twin music videos like Rubber Johnny and Come to Daddy. Tool took this prank call and essentially turned it into a lynchian nightmare of a finale. 8/10.

I went through many phases of inner conflict, hours of listening, and 2 ?scrapped reviews in the process of trying to "get" Lateralus. I felt really driven by the fact that this is at the top of the post-metal charts. While I've been cynical about Tool, there's no questioning here that they made something worth listening to at least once. I'm glad I kept pushing myself to listen to this because I think that Lateralus is an essential album of 2000s prog.

 Fear Inoculum by TOOL album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.73 | 257 ratings

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Fear Inoculum
Tool Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Hector Enrique

4 stars The fifth album came after a long wait, exasperating for many of whom are fans of this extraordinary group. I cannot deny that I had my doubts if a new album would finally be released. And of course, after so much waiting, and knowing that finally the album was released, the expectations were very high, since the time they had taken, between the compositions and partly for legal issues that it seems they had many in these times , the music would come with different surprises and nuances, as they have accustomed us.

After listening to the album a few times, I find it as a continuation of 10,000 days, with airs in Right in Two, Wings for Mary and Rosetta Stone everywhere. As someone said, nothing new under the sun in the Tool world. That does not mean that it is not an excellent album, whose 6 songs of more than 10 minutes live up to their best compositions.

Fear Inoculum, Pneuma, Invicible, Descending, Culling Voices and 7empest generate feelings of being in front of the best Tools, and we are talking about practically the whole album. I understand that they are probably all within the same cut and that can generate the feeling of repeating the same formula of the success of the previous album without taking too many risks, which we could take as the most debatable point, but in my opinion Jones's guitar remains as scratchy and dramatically dirty and powerful, Carey's battery as always lives up to the demand and Keanan and Chancellor in their best condition.

I particularly enjoy Pneuma, the last section of the song delivered to a Jones riff is the best, and both Descending and Invicible also make us realize that we are facing authentic Tool, and the more than 15 minutes of 7empest with his constant changes of rhythm remind us of the best progressive side of the band, a must. The songs of shorter duration don磘 add much value of the disc and I consider them expendable.

In short, some authentic Tool, which have maintained their successful formula and achieved an excellent record. We hope that another 13 years do not pass to meet again and enjoy their music.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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