Tool's sophisticated art-metal approach (some regard them as prog-metal) is marked by unrelenting aggression and focused intensity. The band's use of serpentine, syncopated rhythms, and tight staccato guitar riffs topped by singer Maynard James Keenan's passionate-but-controlled vocal style separates Tool from the slash-and-burn overkill approach of so many of their heavy rock contemporaries. The band first came to public attention in the waning days of the grunge boom, but have long outlasted that transient era with their dark, brooding vision.
Track: 9: Flood Media Type: CD Artist: TOOL Title: UNDERTOW Street Release Date: 09/17/1996 Domestic Genre: HEAVY METAL
Arguably their finest album, this follow-up to Opiate showcases Tool at their best, assisted by clean, crisp production, without the muddiness of Aenima. Edgy guitar riffs are complemented by spitting, heavy bass, especially on "Sober" and "Crawl Away". Lyrically, Tool are at their vitriolic best, targeting religious hypocrisy ("Intolerance," "Sober"; always a popular theme), the loss of innocence and its consequences ("Prison Sex"), and deliberate ignorance ("Swamp Song"). Henry Rollins makes a guest appearance on "Bottom," which, along with "4 Degrees," deals with questions of identity. Undertow is also Tool's most musically adventurous album, lacking the occasionally numbing sameness of Aenima, and with considerably more sophistication than their previous work. Very highly recommended. --Genevieve Williams
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