New Album in 2012?

Only time will tell.

Tool is notorious for waiting several years between each album release. The shortest wait was probably between Undertow and Ænima with just under 3 years between each album. After that it was 5 years until Lateralus was released, then another 4 years for 10,000 Days.

Of course, in between the Tool projects Maynard Keenan also created Puscifier. The newest album “Conditions of My Parole” was just released last week. I’ve included a YouTube vid of one of the new songs if you’re interested. This may hold over some Tool fans until the new album does come out, if it does.


A Perfect Circle, another one of Maynard’s projects has also released albums between the Tool studio albums.

In a cryptic (and typical) newsletter on the bands official newsletter site they may have announced a new album for May 2012. I say may have because the newsletters are famous for messing with fans and being hard to decipher.

The newsletter also talks about the Rapture and Judgment Day, Taco Bell, and interplanetary travel.

Only time will tell if this is true. We can only hope. While I understand a group as phenomenal as Tool needs plenty of time to work on their music, as a fan asking me to wait 6 long years is a bit much. The various discussion boards across the web have been ablaze about speculation since the announcement was made in May 2011 of the possible upcoming album.

In the meantime I’ll just have to continue to enjoy shuffling between the other studio albums and waiting on pins and needles to see if this actually comes to fruition.

True Test of Versatile Music

Tool’s music has always spoken to me. The lyrics are always remarkable, the videos are haunting and the actual musical compositions are beyond astounding.  Any artist or group who can produce music with such raw, gritty emotion is good in my book. That’s one of the things I’ve always admired about Tool; the ability to create music that is just as emotive as the lyrics are.

I love going on YouTube and looking for music that is outside the box a little. A few months ago I discovered bluegrass tributes to some of the best rock songs throughout the last few decades. This blew my mind! Not only was this idea something I wish I’d thought of, it was a neat way to show that truly great music can transcend all niche’s and genre’s.

That led me to some amazing symphonic arrangements of unexpected rock songs. That’s when I found this. I never doubted that Tool would sound amazing when played well on other instruments, but the emotive qualities I have always loved about them still came through. This version elicits just as much feeling as the album version.  That raw, resolute passion, that despondency, the deep well that Tool is so great at capturing is still present.

This just proves to me that Tool is amazing at what they do. Beyond the lyrics and evocative videos the music is translated just as easily to other instruments and niche’s, and still powerful enough to arouse that same core gut reaction.


Tool's "Ænema" video

Dipthongs and gritty surrealism

When I was an angry, impressionable young thing, I would get Tool's "Ænema" stuck in my head for days at a time. It's ridiculously earwormy for a prog metal track, not to mention it echoed plenty of my frustrations with the state of modern capitalism (at least as far as my teenage understanding of it went). The song might be partially responsible for my continued preoccupation with the apocalypse, as well as my longstanding cynical conviction that the end of the world is the only way anyone's going to be able to fix America. Tool's preferred apocalyptic prediction is another great flood; Maynard chants "learn to swim" at the climax of Ænema, as though dog paddling would save us from the torrents. 

Like most of Tool's videos, Ænema features a gorgeously surreal atmosphere and some impressive stop motion animation. It would seem an artistic frustration with Los Angeles drives filmmakers and musicians to create thematically unified art; at points during the video, I'm reminded of David Lynch's disturbingly surreal feature film Mulholland Drive. Maybe it's all the blue lighting and weird little shriveled dudes being tortured by men in suits. Enjoy this angry nightmare of a video after the jump. 


Where is the New Album?

Many fans are continually wondering about the latest Tool album—particularly when it will be released. It’s not finished yet, and it’s not really being discussed with the public—but it’s definitely in the works. Most know that since 2008, the various members have been taking a hiatus off and on, some writing, some working on other projects—from making wine to producing comic books.

Several pieces have been written over the years, but the album itself is not finished just yet. The band members really wanted to take a break from each other as well, without officially breaking up and with every intention of staying together and continuing to work—which is a much healthier situation than most bans get into, when you think about it. It’s a much more grown-up situation than, say, getting made and leaving over a girl or money or whatever breaks up bands these days.

Right now Tool is working harder at producing the album, and they’ve had a few shows since the 2008 break, but fans are really hoping that they’ll be fully performing again soon—as well as that their new album will stay on target and be released sometime this year.

The Brothers Quay: Progenitors of Tool's Aesthetic

Adam Jones borrowed heavily from the Brothers' short films

Much of Tool's widespread success comes from the intra-sensory unity of their aesthetic. As a band, they've made great music, but their album art, concert projections, and music videos have been integral to their ongoing popularity. Guitarist Adam Jones does essential work not only as a musician but as the art director of the band. He created most of Tool's disturbing and iconic music videos that helped launch them into the mainstream. 

The pitch-dark stop motion videos were certainly a large part of what drew me to the band. The video for the 1993 single "Sober" blew me away the first time I saw it. Nearly 20 years after its release, the "Sober" video remains remarkably popular, having racked up over ten million views on YouTube. Its eerie, atmospheric stop motion animation set it apart from other band-centered videos at the time. 

The animation style contributes as much to the video's tone as its content. You get the sensation of watching inanimate objects coming to life, moving of their own accord. After all, you're looking at real objects lit by real light. No other filmmaking tool, not even CGI, can match the tangibility of stop motion. It's a technique I associate with certain films from my childhood, which makes its use in "Sober" all the more disconcerting. 

But Adam Jones wasn't the first to realize that stop motion was an inherently disturbing method of animation that could be employed to great effect. He drew heavily from the work of the Brothers Quay for the aesthetic of the Tool videos. 
Stephen and Timothy Quay, identical twin brothers from Pennsylvania, have been making animated films together since 1979. Their most famous short, Street of Crocodiles, was released in 1986. Much of the Brothers' work features distressed, distorted human figures assembled from old doll parts and other found objects. A haunting tone permeates their filmography.

Jones's borrowing of the Brothers' style for his own video is one of many examples where the replica becomes more famous than the original. With "Sober," he brought an existing short film aesthetic into mainstream culture. I don't believe Jones ever publicly acknowledged the influence of the Brothers Quay on his own work, which is unfortunate, especially given that the twins were making music videos themselves around the same time. As far as I know, the Brothers never took issue with the imitative videos, although Kurt Cobain personally stated that Tool should have been sued for them.

While I do wish more credit were given where due, the "Sober" and "Schism" videos are excellent in their own right and a perfect complement to Tool's music. They've aged better than most videos produced during the early '90s. Watching them now is a great way to revisit some of Tool's best songs. 

Shadows of Obsession

Shadows of Obsession, An erotic novel that cautions us that sometimes one touch, one taste of undulated ecstasy, or one chance encounter, is all it takes to become the object of someone's affection, or the desire to become someone's obsessional affliction

  An erotic psychological thriller that sets the heart racing, and the pulse pounding

  An intimate romance that indulges your wildest and illicit fantasies


White Pigs on Dope

There’s something to be said for the first few Corrosion of Conformity releases. And really, early Metallica wasn’t to awfully either. That doesn’t mean, it needs to be endlessly revisited, but you know. About the time as both of those acts were working in weird combinations of punk influenced metal and hardcore, there were scores of other crews wrangling the same base instincts, but rarely culminating in the same sort of success. That being said White Pigs have their moments even as the band’s available recordings are mixed and matched from various parts of its convoluted career.

Beginning in 1980, the Hartford based act combined gruff vocals and basic punk tunes with a bit of over the top guitar work, included for self aggrandizement as much as anything else. The troupe disbanded within two years, leaving no recordings behind. It wasn’t until the following year that the band reconvened, but only included the original bassist who picked up some singer named Brian Ripthroat (whoa.) The group’s first single included these folks. But the follow-up counted a new guitarist. There, apparently, wasn’t enough shredding. More personnel shifts ensued and by the end of ’84, White Pigs sported none of its original members even as this latter line-up found the most space on wax and even a few well distributed compilations. Of course, being the mid ‘80s and the band not favoring the spandex version of metal there wasn’t a tremendous future for ‘em. By 1990, everything was history and the band’s collected works – recordings spanning its career and endless line up changes – had been issued.

Songs of Sin remains the band’s singular statement of purpose. It’s pretty well flawed, but counts as the most lengthy release in White Pigs catalog. There’s a six minute song called “Body Parts.” It’s hard to tell if that’s cool or utterly ridiculous. But either way, the track gets pretty close to thrash territory while the band’s singer drones on about eternity. Funny, that. Sitting alongside more punk related fair – “Live for the Fire” – the song serves to properly display White Pigs evolution over time. Whether or not any of the line ups here are going to be enormously engaging depends on listener’s ability to assimilate taste to aggressive music’s various voicings. Regardless of one’s aural proclivities, there aren’t too many people who are going to be capable of resisting the charms of a reimagined “Musnter’s Theme.” White Pigs get ridiculous.