Maynard James Keenan has returned with the band that made him big. Following the success of his side project, A Perfect Circle, Keenan and Tool are back in action, touring in support of this year's angst-ridden release, Lateralus.
Of course Tool's releasing a record filled with dark, brooding themes is hardly a shock. The band hasn't strayed far from the sound that generated such a buzz with the 1992 EP, Opiate. Cuts like the title track gave everyone a sign of the gloom and doom to come, and the live cuts, "Cold and Ugly" and "Jerk-Off," assured fans that the band didn't need a studio to rock.
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Tool followed Opiate with 1993's Undertow, and the kids ate it up, due in no small part to the disturbing videos for "Sober" and "Prison Sex," which featured some creepy stop-motion animation. Three years later the band's Aenima was one of the biggest albums of the year. But alas for poor Tool, it ran into a problem that seems to have reared its ugly head with alarming consistency ever since the birth of rock: legal problems with its record label. It was for this reason that Tool took five years to release its newest album and also why Keenan lent his talent to A Perfect Circle, which was truly guitarist Billy Howerdel's baby.
But now the band that gave art rock an overdose of heavy metal has resurfaced, and folks are saying the tour is an impressive sight. Those who have seen the show report that, in keeping with the freakish image for which the group is famous, nude contortionists perform on-stage while the band rocks. Picture a couple of butt-naked people tossing their legs over their shoulders while Keenan wails, "Why can we not be sober?" and you'll see where this is going. If that ain't art metal, we don't know what is.