Progressive Rock

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“Tool is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a big dick. It’s a wrench. … we are … your tool; use us as a catalyst in your process of finding out whatever it is you need to find out, or whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.” -MJK (1994)

Some may have the burning question… What genre is Tool? Well… It’s clear they are progressive. Whether they are rock, metal, or even art rock, is up for debate. To be even more confusing, none of their albums share the same style of music. They have a clear progression from their first EP “Opiate, 1992” to their current release “Fear Inoculum, 2019”. They have evolved from a heavy, angry band full of hate to a spiritual, technical band full of hope.

One of the factors that makes Tool so difficult to define is the band’s existence in a continual trans-migratory state of musical progress, perhaps best captured by the changing time signatures on each song. Tool also embraces the contradictions that might fracture other groups. The music can be both thought-provoking and thrashing or combine the mathematical precision of the Fibonacci Sequence with the spiritual numerology of Eastern religions.


Although we recommend listening to the albums in their entirety, the playlist above gives a good example of the wide-range of sounds from Tool hand picked from their various albums.

“I just hope that our fans are people who are inspired by music, and just use our music as a background or inspiration for whatever it is they do.” – MJK

The band consists of an eclectic group of individuals that wanted to create something new. Tool met and formed in Los Angeles in the 1980’s. Lead singer Maynard James Keenan was pursuing visual arts in LA when he met guitarist Adam Jones through a mutual connection. Jones was a special effects artist and sculptor on films such as Jurassic Park, Terminator 2, and the Ghost Buster’s franchise.

After listening to Keenan’s vocal recordings, Adam joined with him to start a band. When looking for additional members, it turned out that drummer Danny Carey was living right above Keenan’s apartment. Legendary Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello introduced Jones to Carey, and bassist Paul D’Amour was introduced through another connection. It was only after their first studio album release “Undertow, 1993” that D’Amour wished to pursue guitar instead of bass and left the band. After interviewing several potential members, the band picked up Justin Chancellor from the band Peach.

This array of different artistic and musical backgrounds has led to both Tool’s unique sound — Carey’s use of the Tabla Drum in his drum kit, the continued use of interludes in songs — and the vividly realized performances that continue to draw members of the “Tool Army” across the country in droves for live shows.


Photo Credits

Wikimedia Commons

Getty Images

Screengrab via YouTube user OverIoadTV

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