Tool is a band co-founded by vocalist Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Paul D’Amour and Danny Carey in the late 1980s. Tool’s music combines prog metal, thrash, industrial, psychedelic, and art-rock. Justin Chancellor replaced D’Amour in 1995.
The early releases dealt with anger by people against the establishment. Tool eventually concentrated on finding enlightenment and self-actualization instead of fixating on the outer world. Here are the 10 best tool songs representing the melodic and lyrical pattern together with their Youtube links.
“Sober” is the first single in the Tool’s Undertow album of 1993. The song demonstrated the powerful dynamics of the band when it was singing the debut album. Keenan sings in a strong but emotionally nimble voice when handling a lyric that mainly focuses on resetting the spiritual awakening and addiction.
“Sober” was around since 1986 but in a different and faster version under the title “Burn About Out.” It could be why Tool got it exceptionally well, especially Keenan, who previously was in a band that had this song in its demo cassette.
“Lateralus” is the title track for Lateralus, a 2001 album. The album upped the art-rock approach by applying the Fibonacci sequence. Sequence is a math formula where each number is equal to the sum of two preceding numbers. The formula relates to Phi, a golden ratio that describes spirals in nature.
Keenan mentions the spirals in the lyrics. They are represented by changing from 9/8 to 8/8 and 7/8. “Lateralus” is lovely because the complex formulas do not overshadow it. The music supports a line about perseverance towards influence.
“Third Eye” is in Ænima album of 1996. Tool got the inspiration to sing from comedian Bill Hicks comment that “watching TV is like black spray paint to the third eye.”
The lyrics are about the sixth chakra of the human body’s spiritual power. This spiritual power is also called the Third Eye. Vocal performance and the music reflect attempts and frustrations of ‘prying open′ somebody’s third eye.
“Parabola” is the second single in the album Lateralus of 2001. It is one of Tool’s upbeat, celebratory moments. The song has a similar singing style to a form of Islamic devotional music called Qawwali.
It puts forward an idea that our bodies are a temporary vessel and “pain is an illusion.” Parabola continues themes of spiritual enlightenment and practice of Buddhism Noble Eightfold Path regarding self-purification, self-discipline, and end of suffering.
“10,000 Days” got its name from the nearly 10,000 days (27 years) that Keenan′s mother was in a wheelchair after suffering a paralyzing stroke. The song expresses admiration of her faith with sweeping rhythmic momentum.
Keenan wanted it to be her comforter. Keenan admits that his spiritual pursuits led him away from the organized religion and regrets being emotionally vulnerable.
“Prison Sex” is the second single in Tool’s full-length debut and the first for Jones to be a sole video director. “Prison Sex” tackles sexual abuse.
Tool band lays out a viewpoint on how an abused child gets damaged and becomes an abusive adult. Keenan said that the song is about “recognizing and identifying the cycle of abuse within you.”
“Intolerance” is a song in the 1993 album Undertow. It derives a recurring line “lie, cheat and steal” from the cadet honor code of West Point Military Academy. Keenan picked the line while attending the school.
The premise of “Intolerance” is that people who are silent when others commit crimes and indoctrinate the world are bad as those criminals.
It suggests people should not tolerate apathy. “Intolerance” has alt-metal fury similar to that in Opiate. However, the production packs a continuous wallop, and the lyrics have more depth.
“Schism” is a commentary about religion splintering into wrangling tribes or attempts to resurrect sputtering romance. The lyrics to this Grammy-winning song practically apply to the restoration of friendship and partnership in the band.
A decision by Keenan to work with A Perfect Circle had caused a rift in Tool. Tool released A DVD single after three years with a music video featuring humanoids with noticeable similarity to engineers in Prometheus. Guitarist Adam Jones was directing the video.
“Rosetta Stoned” is a song in the album 10,000 Days of 2006. The lyrics warn that if people are not careful about mind-alerting chemicals, they are more likely to soil themselves instead of achieving higher consciousness.
“Rosetta Stoned” refers to an unresponsive patient in an earlier Tool song that referenced the father of LSD, Albert Hofmann. The patient in a hallucination encountered aliens, reached nirvana but forgot his discovery.
“Opiate” is a title track for Opiate EP of 1992. It co-opted a line by Karl Marx terming religion as an “opiate of the masses.” Vocalist Keenan takes a swipe at the “guidance” of organized religion and the strict rule that destroys personality to help to sustain the establishment.
He told a crowd that “your enemy is ignorance” when introducing the song at the 2017 Governor’s ball. Tool has won Best Metal Performance and Top Rock Album on different occasions. The latest awards were Best Metal Performance for 7empest in 2019 and Top Rock Album in 2020 for Fear Inoculum.