Metal band show in Columbus remembered but still visceral

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Tool has released just one EP and five full albums in the 30 years since their recorded debut in 1992. The one the band just shot, 2019’s “Fear Inoculum,” took 13 years to complete. For a metal band, even progressive, it’s not exactly knocking them out.

Then again, Tool has never been described comfortably so narrowly. Add “psychedelic”, “art rock”, “post-metal” and “alternative” and you get a little closer.

Hearing the band live, say in a crowded national arena on Sunday nights, Tool is an immersive experience: multidisciplinary, both shocking and pleasantly numbing, empowering and earth-shaking visceral.

This writer couldn’t help but remember witnessing Pink Floyd at Kent State in 1973, only enhanced and made contemporary.

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Tool’s Sunday night show left only shreds of evidence that Pink Floyd, King Crimson – another band often mentioned as an influence – or anyone else had a big impact on their sound and feel. incomparable production.

The power behind the musicians

If there’s a blueprint for sound and arrangements, it includes the constantly choppy guitar work of guitarist Adam Jones, so low on the frets that it often joins Justin Chancellor’s throbbing bass lines. Drummer Danny Carey sounds like two drummers, not only in complexity but also in elemental power. Meanwhile, like a lyrical warrior lurking in dark side scenes, singer Maynard James Keenan fights with his knees bent while delivering short, sharp speeches about the mind/body dilemma, self-realization and existential fear.

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This, in songs that mostly lasted almost 10 minutes. In just over two hours of operation, not counting a 12-minute intermission, the band played only 13 “tracks”. Most of them started out relatively quiet and simple, with Jones building up drama at the low end of his guitar, later intensifying like a locomotive rolling down a hill. Although Jones rarely played what might be called a solo and rarely left that low range, the complexity and passion of his playing was at times overwhelming.

Seven songs from the latest album encapsulate Tool’s mature songwriting design, while older tracks, dating back to 1992’s hit ‘Opiate’, brought raw power to the setlist.

Avoiding the spotlight

Tool’s musicians are not the type to show off, especially in concert. Jones and Chancellor stand on the periphery of the front stage, particularly Jones reluctant at the rare spot that presented itself, while Keenan delivered his volleys of two small, dark stages from the rear wings, deeply focused on the lyrics that he wrote.

A string veil was wrapped around the entire front of the stage, not only sheltering the musicians but, unfortunately, also dulling the essential visual effect of the videos playing behind the musicians on a giant screen the size of a full stage.

In the past, the short films that were projected behind were essential in the presentation. Most are directed by Jones and previous tours have featured a combination of grotesque and revolting imagery mixed with pastoral and lyricism. Jones is obsessed with stereovision, unformed humanoid figures, intricate patterns, and corpses.

Sunday night movies seemed not only toned down but also less daring. The entire production, in fact, has been recalled. A memorable show in the Value City Arena a few years ago featured a pair of naked contortionists hanging from a rope anchored in the center of the venue, climbing up and down all night long. Although the music cut like a knife on Sunday night, the overall experience suffered.

The Acid Helps opened the show with a crushing set of hard rock.

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