Wednesday, January 11, 2012

TOOL (on Tour)

Mystagogues unite! There is no new album on the way, or at least no official word that there is or isn't, but Maynard and the gang have decided that the inter-dimensionally based, but extra-terrestrial, gods of the Golden Ratio and the Jungian Dark Calculus have deemed this the proper time to hit the road, even though Maynard doesn’t like traveling. Seriously though folks, if you’re any type of hard rock/art-metal fan then you really have to see Tool live at least once in your lifetime. The shows I’ve seen have been the equivalent of a good acid trip, acid not needed, and a mind expanding stoner trip, with no marijuana necessary. Tool often requires (or at least encourages) their fans to “Think for Yourself,” and the imagery, music, and non-abrasive (nor invasive) message that they promote during their shows really does inspire that type of thinking. Put aside all of the junk you’ve heard about Adam Jones being into occultism and black magic, and Maynard’s fascination with his dick. The sum of a Tool show (like the band itself) is obviously greater than its parts. Keeping with the band’s interest in mystic math and Pythagorean Theorems, much of Tool’s concert light show is based around the projection of diagrams, symbols, mathematical constructs, Fibonacci sequences, etc. For an example of a Fibonacci sequence in a Tool song check out this classic fan made video from

Often considered the “Radiohead of metal,” Tool has always displayed a healthy interest in berating the evils of organized religion, often sarcastically and violently in their lyrics, while promoting the sort of self-introspection spiritualism and metaphysical outlook that one would find in more esoteric Christianity and Eastern Religions. It’s really a bit of a cliché, and wrong, to state that Tool’s music is mostly Eastern-influenced though. There really are many more direct references, both in the aforementioned sarcastic and violent way lyrically and shockingly reverently, to Occidental religious thought and practice. Consider “10,000 Days,” a song off their album of the same name, about Maynard James Keenan’s mother, Judith Marie. Judith ascents to heaven, and once there Maynard shouts that:

You're the only one who can hold your head up high,

Shake your fists at the gates saying:

"I've come home now!

Fetch me the spirit, the son, and the father.

Tell them their pillar of faith has ascended.

It's time now!

My time now!

Give me my, give me my wings!"

Very obviously, Maynard and the gang are not Christians in any contemporary sense of the word, nor do they promote belonging to, or more accurately being brainwashed by, any religion or authority organization, but the acknowledgement that his mother, who suffered for 10,000 days the debilitating after effects of a stroke, deserves the heaven of her beliefs, is telling of Maynard and the band's belief in some sort of greater spirtual experience or afterlife. Another song that demonstrates an affinity for Western Occidentalism is “The Grudge” from off of Lateralus, hands down their best album (thus far?). The entire song makes use of Greek mythological themes and imagery while urging the listener to “let go” and “transmute these leaden grudges into gold” as “Saturn comes back around” for its first transit of the listeners astrological birth chart. One doesn’t have to have one iota of what I’m talking about here, or what Tool is alluding to in this song, to fully enjoy it as a prime example of Tool’s own unique brand of art-metal, but these kinds of insights and interesting occult/religious/mythological allusions in Maynard’s lyrics, and the band's unique guitar time signatures and beats, are what Tool fans live for the opporunity of discovering in their music (at least this is true of this Tool fan).

The Tool experience though goes beyond the music, even though it is firmly grounded in it. Back before the Facebook boom, “The Collective Unconscious” (be careful when clicking-there is audio involved with this site) was a unique message board/social network that allowed for Tool fans to chat, share insights into the band’s music, discuss other similar bands, and in general share one’s thoughts with other like-minded individuals in the vein of how Facebook does it. If you caught the “Mystagogue” reference at the outset of this article, you know what I’m talking about. It was a really fun site that has been more or less dead since late 2009, sadly. Being a member of “The Tool Army” really meant something once. Now, it seems to have drifted away, from me at least.

Their best album...thus far.

Still though, the band’s music, as much as it has been replayed, and has suffered from a lack of growth (i.e. from a lack of any new material being written or recorded), is what Tool is all about at its heart. Seeing this music brought to life on stage is an experience that no one should miss, even if you only have a passing interest in the band and never made it beyond Neophyte. Man, I miss “The Collective Unconscious!”

For a list of 2012 Winter Tour dates click here.

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