Over its 16-year history, this prog-metal warhorse has released albums sporadically, according to its own creative timetable. It has willfully strayed from its perceived genre to tour with the likes of trip-hop hero Tricky and avant-garde pioneers King Crimson. It makes no concessions to radio, and doesn’t even think in terms of singles. It shuns the notion of celebrity, obscuring band
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Current | Choice
Tool with Isis
Tue, Sep 12
1 AT&T Center
members’ faces at concerts, and appearing only in the most distorted, unrecognizable form in videos. Above all, Tool creates an abrasive, percussive din while exploring the most disturbing, warped elements of human nature.
Admiring a band’s commitment to its vision is one thing, but deriving enjoyment from that commitment is another. And that’s where Tool’s music inevitably falls short. For all the dexterity of its musicianship, the band’s songs generally meander forlornly, and singer Maynard James Keenan, much like Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor, seems bent on celebrating psycho-sexual ugliness for the sheer misanthropic rush it provides him.
Keenan took an unconventional path to rock stardom, spending three years in the U.S. Army before studying art at the Kendall School of Design in Michigan, and finally stumbling into a series of Los Angeles bands. With Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello serving as musical matchmaker, Keenan hooked up with guitarist Adam Jones (an old schoolmate of Morello’s) drummer Danny Carey, and original bassist Paul D’Amour (eventually replaced by Justin Chancellor).
Keenan’s strange, wildly possessed performance style is the band’s chief attraction, but even he’s overshadowed by the array of video projections that tower above the group at Tool shows. This band has always been about sensory saturation, and it’s more than willing to remain faceless while bombarding your nervous system.