After years of waiting, this week we found out that finally, at long last, progressive gods Tool will be adding all of their material to streaming services. This comes on top of the band’s first album in 13 years, “Fear Inoculum,” releasing on August 30. So, to celebrate all of that, today I share with you the Top 10 Tool songs. A similar list was done years ago, and I’ve reworked some of these entries, but either way I’m looking forward to jamming these ten essential tracks in the very near future. Enjoy!
10. JAMBI: 10,000 DAYS
This is one of the song’s from “10,000 Days” that instantly stuck out. I had purchased a ticket to the 2006 Coachella Festival, out in California. Tool was the headliner of the final day. About 6 days before, this album leaked. I knew I couldn’t wait to hear the songs live. For 6 days prior I consumed this album. While not as excellent as Lateralus, it still had plenty of what every Tool fan wants. The song names on this album at first glance don’t make a lot of sense. But as with many things involving this band, you can’t ever be sure if they’re fucking with you or not. Why exactly was this song named after the genie from Pee Wee’s playhouse? I have no idea. But the song is as heavy as it is melodic. While the earlier albums are still very good compared to most other albums, the introduction of Justin Chancellor on the previous album really helped to bring their sound and experimentation to the next level. The bass is really crunchy here, and he’s an excellent player overall. No disrespect to the former boss player, but Chancellor was the missing link that was needed. With the lyrics you can also tell Keenan’s choices had become even more cryptic, but also more meaningful. This album he discusses everything from the death of someone extremely close to him to being tripped out on drugs.
9 OPIATE: OPIATE
Many old school fans still consider this one of their best, and best known songs. The menacing instrumental opening is brief, but Keenan’s voice and choice of lyrics immediately stand out. The band may have gotten very meta in their recent albums, but this closing song still celebrates just how different this band was, even from the early days. It’s a song that feels like a warning. At first glance it seems to deal with struggling to find your place, and eventually putting your faith in something outside of yourself. What it actually is though, is a play on words of how not to get sucked in. The character featured in the song, if you want to call him that, is struggling with issues he can not yet solve on his own. Musically it’s world different from what came next, more immediate and to the point, but for many this is where it all began.
8. LOST KEYS/ ROSETTA STONED(BLAME HOFFMAN): 10,000 DAYS
Now this song has probably my favorite set of lyrics that Kennan has ever written, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Let me just say quickly, that while most believe, and I guess rightfully so, that this song is about a hippie on DMT who is hallucinating horrible things, I personally like to believe that not only is this song about a man who has seen unbelievable things, but also that the meaning of what he’s trying to tell everyone is of vast importance. Secondly, the conspiracy nut in me believes this song is loosely meant to be the aftermath of the final track off of Lateralus “Faaip De Oiad.” That song see’s a man sprinting across the country from the forces he worked for at Area 51. It’s eternally creepy. I like to believe that “Rosetta Stoned” is what happens after the man simply can’t make it another inch. Stumbling, murmuring nonsense he seeks help in the only place he thinks might be able to help him, a hospital. He may be dying, but the listener can’t be sure. This is what is great about the band. Tool recognize the importance of using the art of others and drawing your own conclusions. Now, like I said, While the DMT drug story holds up, and much can be explained away because of that, for me it’s just more fun to imagine the limitless potential of the gift these Aliens have bestowed upon this high school dropout. In that respect it's also a very sad, depressing song. Towards the end of the song though, Kerman’s voice erupts over the ambient Egyptian style grooves with the line “Overwhelmed as one would be placed in my position, such a heavy burden now to be the one. Born to bear and read to all the details of our ending, write it for the whole wide world to see. But I forget my pen, Shit the bed again, typical.” It’s so beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time that it moves you in a way most heavier bands aren’t capable of.
This for me is the emotional climax of the song. A man, given the gift to save the world from darkness, and bring the news of epic proportions to the eyes and ears of the world, but he’s unable to. He just can’t seem to escape his own mind. Perhaps the immense responsibility of the job he’s been enlisted for is just too great for him, and thus, the world changing secret will be kept quietly inside the fragile brain of this entrusted man.
7. FORTY-SIX & TWO: ÆNIMA
There are plenty of songs throughout this record that have the capacity to pull in the listener. This one however has become a fan favorite over the year, and when you listen to it, especially with headphones, it takes you on a ride so heavy and thought provoking that it's hard to resist. The guitar work by jones has this whirling, chaotic element to it. The drums hit swiftly and loudly, creating an almost tidal wave when the energy picks up. The lyrics are excellent too, with MJK howling throughout, but the real prize ultimately is the instrumentation. They’ve performed this virtually every time i’ve seen them live, and even if you aren’t a fan of the album version, seeing it live makes its that much more enjoyable and cathartic. One of the best off of this ground breaking record, and it lands at number seven on the Top Ten countdown.
6. SCHISM: LATERALUS
Now, more often than not, singles are not a truly fair representation of a band. They are meant to draw in people who otherwise would not go out and buy an album. As with everything, Tool also does this differently. It’s a really awesome song, and the video is both creepy and fascinating to watch. While making this album, the band was at a breaking point. It’s been documented that they just weren’t seeing eye to eye. Maynard Keenan went and wrote the lyrics for this song about this tension within the camp, and while I don’t know for sure if it was a turning point, anyone who has ever been through a difficult situation can understand the tension, or the “Schism” within the band. You see, a band isn’t just fun. Creating anything is difficult. Creating things with other creative beings is very difficult. Four people, four brains working differently, and four opinions that everyone else has to take into account. I imagine that can get messy. Keenan screaming at the end “ I know the pieces fit,” sounds negative, but it’s not. It’s a man trying to figure out why things that once worked before simply aren’t this time around. But in the end it works because making the best album of your career isn’t supposed to be easy going
5. EON BLUE APOCALYPSE/ THE PATIENT: LATERALUS
This song, and subsequent album is where Tool took on a much deeper, knowing sense of purpose. This song creeps, and builds upon itself. It’s an eye opening song, one where they transcend the stagnant waters of the modern rock radio they’ve been wrongly lumped into. This band doesn’t belong on those stations. I’m of the opinion that they don’t belong on any station. Even when I hear this track now I still remember the first time it entered my life. It’s a track that brings all these emotions and concepts of growing and trusting, and it’s a moment of clarity for the band. This song is like witnessing someone reach their true and best potential. The lyrics, the guitar, everything just works. The journey this song takes us on is a beautiful one, and once again, Keenan’s lyrics at the end of the song, not to mention the melody is his vocals and the arrangement of the instrumentation bring the track to a more spiritual, otherworldly place. For this song, words, simply aren’t enough, and you can feel it throughout.
4. PUSHIT: ÆNIMA
This was one of those first tracks that properly made me comprehend the journey of long songs. While Tool doesn’t even have the longest songs in general ( Sunn O))), Godspeed You Black Emperor, Motion Sickness of Time Travel come to mind), their songs truly are journeys of interstellar proportions. For people unfamiliar with this band (I’m assuming those exist), these aren’t nearly just long songs. The band has said many times how they meticulously go about searching every rabbit hole, and exploring the boundaries before they decide that’s where this road is taking them. Many bands rush to record, and you can tell because the end product suffers. Tool simply refuse to do this. As one of the lengthier, but equally stand out songs of their entire career, Pushitt serves as not only an excellent leap forward into more trippy landscapes, but also as a clear indicator as to where the band was heading next. In my opinion, the journey of this song is the tipping point for brilliance. From where I’m standing you can clearly see that not only were they pleased with the road this took them on, but that they could dive even deeper with subsequent releases.
3. STINKFIST: ÆNIMA
For many, this album and lead track was the big break that got them into the band. I had heard the previous records of course, but when this came out, it lit up my imagination and showed me tons of new sounds I had never knew possible before. This track, the one that begins the record, is as drudge filled and intense as anything else you hear on the remainder of Ænima, but it’s also just a phenomenal way to begin this landmark album. The lyrics are dark and twisted, and while I imagine horrible things happening in the shadows, I can’t turn away to shield myself from the ugliness of the track. It’s quite simply an intense ride that sets us on an off road, difficult course. Seeing this performed live is even more spectacular. The energy Keenan expels makes you melt into tranquility, and the raw emotion of the instrumentation makes you want to move your body. Some heavy bands are capable of this, but Tool is one of the ones who have perfected the art.
2. THIRD EYE: ÆNIMA
“Think for yourself, question authority,” might as well be the motto of the band. While this song hasn’t been played a lot at the shows I’ve attended, I’ve heard that phrase quite a few times. The opening of the “Salival” version, provided by Tim Leary, basically sets the stage for the most epic, mind melting pieces in their catalog. This song has more loops and turns than an episode of “LOST.” It also happens to have a persistence that doesn’t quit for the entire 14:05 minutes of the song. Seeing this song live, and especially as the show opener is just insane. Most bands don’t have the nerve to open a two hour show with the longest song they plan to play that night, but Tool do it without missing a beat. Adam Jones’ guitars, to me at least, have always reminded me a little bit of something you’d hear in an Egyptian science fiction movie. Speaking on the topic of mixing, and making sure that every part is integral is something no one except maybe Radiohead does better than Tool. They understand the lyrics are the not the overwhelming plot point of the song. Everything you hear is meant to induce emotions. Sure the lyric helps, but all parts are equally valuable. With more than five minutes left, the song takes yet another turn. It goes from ominous foreshadowing to the welcoming of a love thought lost perhaps. Then another turn down a spiraling rabbit hole. Imploring us to open our eyes may or may not have something to do with the opening dialogue on the track. Humans aren’t meant to be conditioned by rules. We are too great of a people. Life without boundaries is the most ultimate gift anyone can achieve, yet at times it’s those very rules of society that help us to stay safe. Then another, even uglier turn, this time with the intense drums of Carey while Keenan proclaims “ Prying open my third eye,” as the song comes to a final, full circle resting place.
1. LATERALUS: LATERALUS
This is easily the best Tool song ever made, and a perfect representation of the album. It has every awesome aspect of the album in one perfect, thought out space of time. The lyrics describe the opening of a world to a baby, or perhaps, a rebirth of an older soul. This is where the “ Saturn Return” comes into place again. But also, it’s described as the opening of a LSD trip, where bright colors slowly make themselves known. Now, we talked about the importance of Justin Chancellor earlier, but this is the song where he easily shines the most. Now, one of the most interesting things about this song is the time signatures. I’m no musician, but I think most hardcore music fans can recognize the brilliance. The weirdest thing about this song however, is how the signatures, and the lyrics were both thought of separately and without mutual knowledge from the two key participants. In an interview Keenan goes on to explain while he was writing the theme of spiral’s turning in on themselves stuck out and brought a clear focus not only to the song, but the band’s feelings at the time. Here’s where it gets really intriguing though. The original name of the song was 9-8-7, for the weird time signatures, but then the band realized that 987 was the 16th number in the Fibonacci sequence, which also shares interests with the “ Golden Spiral.” I hope that doesn’t confuse you. In other words, there are lyrical and musical reasons why this is the most important, and strongest Tool Song. The positivity of the song is worth noting. It’s imploring us to live every day to the fullest, and maybe, to always try to expand your knowledge, one way or another.
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Among today’s film auteurs, Fincher stands above nearly everyone else. In fact I can’t think of a director not named Nolan who has a better eye for creating a full encompassing world through the lens. Today we’re gonna be discussing his best moments, and how these films have stood the rest of time, even if they aren’t yet considered old school classics.
5. GONE GIRL, 2014
Like many, my first exposure to this excruciating world came from the Flynn book of the same name. The book is amazing, if not also infuriating. What Fincher does is bring the tense atmosphere of the book to a startling vision of a couple completely ruined in more ways than one. Ben Affleck as the husband is able to be likeable, at first, but over the course of the film you see different shades of a character. In the end though, Rosamund Pike steals the movie, and as you unravel the mystery, you realize that yes, Affleck as Nick isn’t a world class husband in any way, but his wife isn’t the glorious woman he thought she was. By the end of the movie you feel nauseous from watching all the terrible things that occur to the characters. You don’t end up feeling amazing. It’s a difficult film to watch, and the carnage depicted feels more real than it should. It’s strange. You don’t feel particularly bad for any of the characters, but what Nick goes through, no one deserves, even if he was a shitty husband. The moral is that even if you go through tremendous trauma, sometimes the end is just the beginning of a snake trap you can’t escape.
4. SE7EN, 1995
Speaking of snake traps, Se7en is another movie that seems to be rolling to a satisfactory climax, until bam, some shit goes down in the middle of nowhere and it’s at that moment you realize pain is eternal. You follow Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman through the ropes of various rings as they try to discover the identity of serial killer John Doe, but as the mystery reveals itself, this film becomes something else entirely. Legend has it spacey only accepted the commanding role on the condition that his name not appear in the opening credits, thinking it woul make the reveal of himself as the killer more shocking. It worked, and for most of the movie he serves as the demon lurking in the darkness, circling the city and Detectives Mills and Somerset. The scenes are brilliantly plotted out, and the terror, and rushed adrenaline of some sections forced you to watch. It’s a gorgeously dark film. The sets, the overall narrative and the ultimate reveal of the villain are perfectly executed( like the lawyer), but it’s those final moments when you realize that the villain won the war before the final battle, and all that’s left is to see what results from the fallout of that crucial nail biting final scene. He didn’t know.
3. FIGHT CLUB, 1999
Maybe the best initial viewing of a movie I’ve ever had in my life. When this came it my high school buddy Miles drug me to see it proclaiming it as the best movie ever. It’s not, but I definitely thought it was for a considerable period of time. I won’t delve too far into the exact plot if the movie, but it’s very much in the spirit of the novel by Palahniuk. It expertly captures the feelings of a lost generation, unsure of the next move. The feel of it is dense and without empathy, but it’s relatable. When Tyler and Jack are talking about what they should've done with their lives you feel that misguided optimism so many of our generation feel. We all weren’t supposed to be famous and Nobel and brilliant. It’s brutal in its portrayal of beauty and poetic in its portrayal of rebellion, and it just works. The acting by the big three of Pitt, Norton and Carter carries the film as much as the message does. We aren’t special, and we aren’t all meant for wondrous things. Sometimes though doing the most destructive things can set us free, and that’s what I take away from the movie. It’s aged incredibly well, and in some ways it’s serves as a warning call to the world were living in now. Would Tyler Durden be checking his Facebook all day while posting pics of kids that only his family cares about for likes and hearts? Fuck no he wouldn’t. We’re doomed as a society, and still Fight Club reminds us that the “ things we own end up owning us.”
2. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, 2011
There are two camps for this novel turned film series. One is the Swedish versions of the Millennium trilogy, while the other is represented. By Fincher's attempt to see it through more American eyes. For me this is the best version. It’s expertly directed as usual, and the performances by Mara, Craig and essentially the entire cast is a master class in adaptations. The time is set early one, with Fincher's coldest, and best qualities burning themselves to the film. It’s gorgeous throughout, and the plot is top notch. It was easily the best movie I saw the year of its release, and on multiple viewings you pick up more and more. It’s a long film, but it never feels tired or lost in its vision. From the opening moments where we see Christopher Plummer opening up another sad reminder, until the chaotic conclusion and the solving of the crime at hand, you’re on the edge of your seat. It’s brutally captivating in a way most films aren't Rooney’s performance as Lisbeth is the stuff of legends. She’s viscous yet smart in regards to how she views the world, but you’d probably be the same if you went through what she has. Sadly the other books never got the Finchers treatment, which is a shame because both of those could’ve been incredible films. It’s cold, distant, and deceiving from start to finish. An excellent film, that lands at number two on this list. Truly a must watch if you’re a fan of the series.
1. ZODIAC, 2007
Goddamn is this a great movie. There’s a reason it’s often hailed as not only Fincher's best, but also one of the best films of the Aughts. Everyone who either grew up during that era, or happens to a be serial killer buff(probably not the best word to be honest) is aware of the Zodiac killer and how she shattered the safety of the Californian north during the 70’s. The movie opens up with a murder, but the change in narrative between the committal of the crimes and how investigators far and wide try to dissect is masterfully done. Fincher takes long cuts during the horrific moments, forcing the viewer to stay focused, even if what is being shown on screen isn’t something you want to see, or think about. The cast surrounding the film is top notch as well. Gyllenhall as the eventual last soldier still trying to figure it out was an excellent choice, but having Downey Jr. as the intrepid drunk reporter makes them a one two bunch. Rounded out by police officer Mark Ruffalo and plenty of other great but less recognizable actors and what you get is another genius project from one of the best directors alive. Like I said it’s a slow burn of a film, but plenty of scenes are unnerving in their execution, specifically the cellar scene towards the films climax. That one segment of the film is somehow scarier than the grisly murders you see throughout the film. It’s just a perfectly fine film, and for that reason it makes the number one spot on the Top David Fincher films.
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Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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