Welcome to Battle Hymns in Drop D. This is the first of hopefully many posts dedicated to all things music. I wanna introduce you all to 3rdI, a man who shares a taste for great fantasy novels and more importantly, awesome music. Being the all around solid dude that he is, 3rdI was kind enough to offer up his musical knowledge for the betterment of Battle Hymns in the form of some posts dedicated to bands we both love. Periodically we will be posting about bands that we think have pushed the boundaries of music. Some of these bands you might be familiar with. Others you probably have never heard of. What is common amongst each band is the quality of the music. We hope you enjoy this new addition to the Hymns. Check back often and keep rocking!
This first post is about the band Tool. In 1992, Tool released their first EP, entitled Opiate. The original line up consisted of Adam Jones (Guitar), Paul D’Amour (Bass), Danny Carey (Drums) and Maynard James Keenan (Vocals). Opiate is a raw, angry album. The compositions are fairly short and straight forward. Keenan’s powerful vocals mixed with Adam Jones crunching riffs, Danny Carey’s precise drumming, and Paul D’Amour’s powerful bass lines combined to produce a sonic thunderstorm that hinted at greater things to come.
The band gained momentum and in 1993 released their first full-length album, Undertow. Undertow shares some similarities with Opiate in that it is also a very raw, powerful album. The compositions however are longer and more mature as the band began to evolve and grow as musicians. The song Sober catapulted the band into commercial success. Sober encapsulates the feel of the album; a powerful, thunderous song that showcases the bands musical talent and complex subject matter. Nothing else on the radio sounded like it. Tool achieved something rare in music, particularly so early in their career, by creating their own signature sound. When I first heard Sober it did not remind me of anything. It sounded new and immediately caught my attention. With that first famous bass line Tool created a sound that would become a cornerstone of modern progressive rock music.
In 1995 the band underwent their only lineup change. Paul D’Amour left the band and was replaced by bassist Justin Chancellor. A year later saw the release of Tool’s second album, Ænima. Ænima is a masterpiece and is one of the most important rock albums ever released. The first single, Stinkfist, is a stunning piece of music. It was also extremely controversial. MTV renamed the song Track 1 and censored some of the lyrical content. Ænima is a complete album in every sense of the word. While the album does not center around one theme it is very much in the tradition of a Pink Floyd or King Crimson style album where every song is absolutely vital to the album. It is a complex, meandering voyage combining heavy riffs and intricate drumming with ambient interludes and sonic exploration. The album ends with 13+ minute mind fuck that is the song Third Eye and is without question one of the bands greatest compositions.
The band became embroiled in long legal fight with their label that lasted over two years. Finally resolved in 1998 the band soon began work on their next album. In 2000, Tool released Salival. The album includes live songs and some fantastic covers including the cover of Led Zeppelin’s epic song , No Quarter.
In 2001 the bands long awaited third full-length album, entitled Lateralus, was released. Tool had once again pushed the boundaries of rock music by creating a truly remarkable work of art. Lateralus is one of the most complex pieces of rock music ever created. It combines complex time signatures, mind-bending polyrhythms, precise control, and artistic vision to create beauty in chaos. It pounds along with breakneck speed only to abruptly stop and wander off into ambient soundscapes. Most of the songs clock in at over 7 minutes. Schism, at 6 minutes 47 seconds, became an instant classic and received heavy play on many radio stations. On this album Danny Carey firmly cemented his place amongst the pantheon of all-time great drummers. His drumming on Lateralus is the finest drumming I have ever had the pleasure of listening to.
True to form it was another 5 years before the next Tool album was released. 10,000 Days, the band’s fourth full-length album, was released in April of 2006. It is the bands most musically complex work to date. The album debuted at number one and the first single, Vicarious, received heavy rotation around the country. 10,000 Days saw the band yet again reach new artistic heights. It features songs like Wings for Marie, (Wings for Marie, Pt1 and 10,000, Wings Pt2), Lost Keys/Rosetta Stoned, and Jambi which contain fascinating time changes, complex polyrhythms and intricate chord progressions. Again most of the songs on the album are well over 7 minutes long with Wings for Marie clocking in at 17 minutes 24 seconds. The album title 10,000 Days is a reference to Maynard’s mother, Judith Marie, who suffered an aneurysm which left her paralyzed for the last 27 years (10,000 Days) of her life. The Song Wings for Marie is an intensely personal tribute to Maynard’s mother. It is a remarkably complex piece of music that resonates deeply with anyone who has ever lost a loved one.
Tool are currently working on their fifth album and have stated they hope to have the album out by the end of the year. I speak for the entire Tool community when I say that we cannot wait. Tool is the very best band that many of your friends know nothing about. Millions and Millions of records sold worldwide with very little radio/video support when compared to other popular rock bands. Tool has pushed the envelope of what is possible and has influenced many current bands. After 20 years they are still going strong. Spiral Out.