Written By Braddon S. Williams
Tool released their debut studio album, the outstanding Undertow, in 1993. This set in motion a career of enigmatic mystery, profound lyrical and artistic content, and just staggering musical accomplishment.
Tool put out music at their own pace (currently it has been 13 years since their last album), rarely do press, never appear in videos, and in the case of lead singer Maynard James Keenan, are even absent from the stage for some live performances. Yet somehow they increase in popularity despite obviously not playing the celebrity game.
Perhaps it is the combination of the unknown and the deliberate nonconformity mixed with the intensity of the music that sets Tool apart.
When Undertow came out, I immediately identified with the progressive elements of the music and with Keenan’s cryptic lyrics. Songs like Sober and Prison Sex were amazing with or without those creepily effective videos, Bottom benefited from the intense spoken word passage from Henry Rollins, and Flood, Swamp Song, Intolerance, and Crawl Away were all winners, too. The final track, Disgustipated, was a tripped out sonic experience (with or without the aid of mind altering substances).
I salute Tool and their overall creativity. They have never played it safe and I doubt they ever will.