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Top 10 Tool Tracks

My Tool Top 10: #1 Aenema

Many of you have already worked out what the number one in my Tool Top 10 is by using your powers of deduction. The same powers that you use to pull the mystery clues from each of Blair’s newsletters.

Number one is of course Aenema. To be honest the top 3 tracks on my list (Third Eye, Lateralus and Aenema) are pretty much interchangeable.

There’s a number of reasons I like Aenema enough to proclaim it number one. Firstly, the lyrics are the perfect blend of metaphor and straight up anger. And they are delivered in the best possible way. Sure, Maynard hits some higher notes in other songs, and the screams maybe aren’t the best, but as far as nailing the theme and emotion of the song, Maynard nails it here.

Musically, Danny shines on this track as well. While the first half of the song is pretty standard Tool fare, the brutal second half shows off some of the more unique moments Danny is able to bring to the band. Justin and Adam both make solid contributions to the track as well, albeit in a more subtle way than Maynard & Danny.

Lastly, Aenema also has the best Tool video. I can never get enough of that little guy being thrown around the box.

My Tool Top 10: #2 Lateralus

What’s the best part about Tool‘s Lateralus? What makes it the number two in my Tool Top 10? That catchy riffs with Adam and Justin intertwining? Maynard’s Fibonacci inspired (deliberate or otherwise) lyrics? Danny’s polyrythmic drumming? The cathartic last minute of the song? The laser show during the live set?

All of those things appeal to me, but my favorite parts of Lateralus are both guitar solos, and they are both in my opinion Adam’s finest hour. The first solo midway through the song is a catchy clean solo which hits all the right notes for me. Combined with Maynard’s great bridge moments later, it’s a mid track highlight.

The second solo is much less structured, yet just as good. I wouldn’t say the entire solo is improvised, but it is very chaotic and never sounds the same from show to show. Perhaps that’s how it’s meant to be – a contrast between the structured first half of the song, and the more chaotic second half. The song endorses the message of embracing the random after all. Or perhaps I’m just over analysing…

My Tool Top 10: #3 Third Eye

I’ve been a little busy of late, so my Tool Top 10 has been on the backburner, however now that things are settling down, it’s time to work towards the top 3! I don’t think my top 3 will come as a surprise to many of you, though perhaps the order may. Anyway, number three is fittingly Third Eye.

There were plenty of eye opening moments for me on Aenima. As a rock and metal fan who’s musical experience didn’t range much past Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Faith No More and Guns n’ Roses, Third Eye was a song that revealed a world of progressive music that previously I hadn’t heard. It’s a long winding track that shows a range of musical dynamics, and one that after first listen left me thinking “what the fuck is this?”. Aenima was for me an album that took a while to grow on me, and once I’d embraced this song, I had embraced the album, and at the same time understood what Tool were about.

Musically it’s a strong one – Danny and Adam both stretch their legs in the final stanza of the song, and Maynard’s vocals are some of his finest. It’s a great live track as well, you need only listen to Salival to hear Tool play it at their peak.

My Tool Top 10: #4 The Grudge

Lateralus has almost the perfect opening track. The Grudge is one that features great work from all four members of the band, and is most commonly the track I recommend to new fans to listen to in order to see what Tool really sound like.

When I heard it I felt like Justin was truly a member of the band for the first time. The bass work in the track is excellent, and it was clear to me that Justin was now out of the shadow of Paul’s work on Aenima. There’s some memorable lyrics from Maynard as well, not to mention the 30 second scream at the end.

Danny owns the track at the end though – the last 30 seconds feature some of my favorite drumming on any song by any band, and one of the fills in particular is out of this world.

My Tool Top 10: #5 Stinkfist

Stinkfist is the second Tool song I ever heard (or at least remember) and was the first to really drag me in. I’d heard Sober on the radio before, but hearing Stinkfist played on afternoon on Triple J by Adam Spencer seemed to do it for me. The mix of the distorted and clean vocals are what sticks in my mind, and the next day I was down at the record store purchasing Aenima. The rest is history!

Really though, Stinkfist is a pretty straight forward song. It doesn’t feature much in the way of progression or weird time signatures, it’s just a solid rock song with the Tool twist.

It’s a great live staple as well. The combination of the catchy vocals, the late song extension as well as Adam’s video make it a fan favorite, and certainly a highlight of the set for me.

My Tool Top 10: #6 Pushit

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of Aenima, Pushit is a powerful piece of love gone wrong, and is a popular one with many Tool fans. In fact I imagine quite a few would argue that #6 isn’t high enough! Not to mention the fact that I didn’t choose the Salival version (I do indeed prefer the original).

Musically the song shows almost all of the colours of Tool. It has both some of their heaviest work, and their lightest work in the same track. As is the case with most of Aenima, Maynard’s singing is sublime, especially as we reach the climax of the song.

And the ending. Who could forget that. There is no Tool song that closes as well as Pushit does. The combination of some of Danny’s finest with Maynard bleeding his heart out is an hallmark moment in their catalog.

My Top 10 Tool Songs: #7 Eulogy

Eulogy is a show case for Maynard’s talents. The singing pushes the boundaries of his vocal cords. I’m yet to hear a good live bootleg where Maynard really nails this – those high notes are just too high to hit consistently. And the lyrics are extremely quotable. Where you look at them as a reference to Bill Hicks, L Ron Hubbard or someone else, it’s easy for many of us to associate with them, and I’m sure for most of us hard to not sing along with!

Musically the track features a drawn out intro, as well as some tasty riffs which complement the catch vocals nicely. A worthy entrant to my top 10 list…

My Top 10 Tool Songs: #8 Hooker With A Penis

Most of you who know me well know that I like heavy music, so it would possibly come as no surprise to many to see Hooker With A Penis entering my Tool Top 10 list. It features Adam’s guitar cranked to 11, and Maynard’s rage level cranked just as high.

Lyrically it’s not one that is open for a great deal of interpretation – Maynard’s rant about artisitic integrity is as clear as mud, and rings true for the band 17 years later. The attitude of “the band is always right” is one that resonates with me, and while many may argue that the band should be more fan friendly, you can’t say that they haven’t lived up to the content of the lyrics.

Danny’s drumming is also a highlight of this track for me. As Aenema was the first Tool album I purchased, this was the first track that really highlights for me his poise behind the kit. Some of my musician friends had pointed out the sublime drum roll at the bginning of Sober, but this track really reinforced his skill to me personally. The manic “Buy, buy, send more money” parts at the end really hit me.

My Top 10 Tool Songs: #9 Jambi

I really liked 10,000 Days. While the album seemed to disappoint some, personally I wasn’t. I don’t think it’s quite as solid as Lateralus and Aenema are, but it’s a great album and a worth inclusion in Tool‘s discography. When I first started putting my list together I had three entries from the album, and there quite easily could have been four.

Though Right In Two, Rosetta Stoned and Wings For Marie/10,000 Days did miss out, Jambi made the cut. When the band spoke about writing for the album, they often dropped Swedish metal band Meshuggah as an influence, and while the rest of the album didn’t really show that influence too much, Jambi certainly did to my ears. The chugging riffs and the polyrythmic drumming pretty much summed up my expectations for this album.

While vocally it’s not a challenging track for Maynard, lyrically I found it to be quite interesting. Deep in symbology, and seemingly pointing to his experiences as a father, they seemed to ring true with me.

And of course then there is the guitar solo. Taking advantage of a Heil Talk Box, Adam created one of his most unique solo proving that while he may not be a technical master of the guitar, he certainly is no slouch when it comes to adding texture and colour to his work.

My Top 10 Tool Songs: #10 Flood

Things are quiet up in the Loft, perhaps a little too quiet. While we all await some news regarding a new album, I thought I’d take some time to indulge myself and publish my personal Tool top 10. You may agree, you may disagree, that is both expected and welcomed. Feel free to discuss my selections are reasoning, as well as add your own.

If anyone feels like having a bit of fun, then feel free to predict my top 10 in the comments below. Should anyone nail it, I’ll send them a little something from my collection. Just to help you out a little, here’s the first one (as well as a significant hint as to what else I may or may not pick later). Entries close at the same time I post #9, which will be on Friday afternoon Aussie time.

When I first started to create my top 10 Tool tracks, the first thing I did what look at the track listing for each album, and then wrote down my “essential” tracks from each album. This got me to 15 tracks, several of them from Undertow. However while whittling down to create a top 10, I ended up disregarding everything else from the album except for Flood.

Flood to me is an interesting track, more than anything else on Undertow is shows to me at least, the direction Tool will take on it’s next three albums. The track is half instrumental, and to my ears just a little more progressive than the hard rock styles of the rest of the album.

The track also highlights Paul’s work on the bass. The bass sound on Undertow is still one of my favorites, and this track accentuates it beautifully.

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