Tools for Success
Let no man say that Maynard James Keenan is a one-trick pony. Once again, the enigmatic TOOL frontman serves up some decidedly un-metal (but still kinda metal) trip-hop laced with his particular brand of dark and unsettling storytelling with “C” Is For (Please Insert Sophomoric Genitalia Reference HERE). As interesting as the music is, it’s the lyrics that shine brightest here.
Opener “Polar Bear” uses the Arctic predator’s natural camouflage as a metaphor for wanting to disappear from the world, and the haunting shuffle of the backing track lends an air of icy isolation. “The Mission” features a wonderful guest turn from actress Milla Jovovich. A Tom Waits-meets-Gorillaz adventure, it’s also the only track with Maynard’s trademark roar.
“Momma Sed” and “Vagina Mine,” recorded at Club Nokia, come from Puscifer’s debut, “V” Is For Vagina. Much like the music of Nine Inch Nails, these songs benefit greatly from being performed live, and for those of you looking for new TOOL music, this cut of “Vagina Mine” is the closest you’ll get. “Potions” follows a broken-hearted man who turns to drugs to forget a lost love. The dripping synth-bass leads us along nicely into ambient chorus breaks, featuring a melancholy acoustic guitar.
The album closes with “The Humbling River.” Using a minimalist ensemble with scratchy strings and a serious “Lord Of The Rings/O Brother, Where Art Thou?” vibe, we hear from a great conqueror who has won every battle. However, for all his might, he cannot cross “the river.” As he calls to the heavens for answers, an angel tells him “the hands of the many must join as one, and together we’ll cross the river”.
You can take the man out of TOOL, but you can’t take TOOL out of the man. But even if you’re not a TOOL fan, this album is just damn good.