Blair has posted the March 2016 Tool Newsletter, and this month it recounts the life and death of a Pepsi cooler in the Loft. The status of the new album does get a bit of a mention though:

After a short deliberation it was unanimously agreed by the band members – as a tribute to its many years of commendable service – to continue with the day’s session. Afterwards, there was some discussion about getting it repaired, or perhaps even a full restoration. However, until any technicians are called or any refurbishing gets under way, it is uncertain how the machine’s absence will affect any future Tool tunes? Personally, I don’t believe that it will change much, especially at this stage of the writing/arranging process, in which, I believe, there are only a couple of ‘shorter’ songs left to complete(?), along with a segue or two or three. (Of course, we need to keep in mind any changes that might be needed to accommodate the vocals, etc., once all of the arrangements are finished.) Even so, I still don’t think the departed Pepsi machine will change in any significant way any new material created by the band. But if it does, someone might want to start looking for cooling unit parts…

Regardless of the status of songwriting, I can’t see Tool recording anything until after the wine harvest, but it is somewhat promising to hear that a good deal of the songwriting is complete. The real question is how much of that includes Maynard’s vocals, or will there need to be a further writing session to get that done?

A vintage Pepsi Cooler which may or may not be the same as the one in the Loft...