Why Is Tool So Hard to Love? Is That the Point?

We're honestly asking. Any answers to the questions below would be extremely helpful.

The band Tool has returned for the first time in 13 years, and we don't know what that means.

Popdust didn't think the band's reunion was a big deal, considering how the band handled the extremely pretentious promotional process for Fear Inoculum. But it seemingly worked. Tool fans from all corners of the earth rushed to binge the 80-minute spectacle, and as the reviews started to pour in, the majority of them were positive.

We were left with a lot of questions. Tool is undoubtedly the greatest metal band of all time and have repeatedly challenged and changed the way human beings enjoy music. With that said, this listicle comes from a genuine place. We want to enjoy Tool. We really do. But as one can imagine, the task feels insurmountable for us normies. Below are a few questions we would really like answered before diving into the Tool sensation.

Why are Tools songs so long?

TOOL - 7empest (Audio)

Why is "7empest" 15 minutes long? 10 of those minutes are just electric guitar. Their riffs have the same strange tempo, the same BPM, for 10 minutes. Is that the appeal? What is being said in those extra 10 minutes that can't be said in 3 or 4? If "7empest" was a short story, any good editor would insist on cuts. Why are people labeling the track as a masterpiece? What is this "journey" that the track supposedly takes everyone on? Am I supposed to be sober when I listen to this? Do Tool fans still love this stuff when you take away their Ketamine? Why does no one seem to mind that "Invincible" sounds just like "7empest"? What is the difference between the two besides the latter having 5 extra minutes of noise?

Why can't I tell their songs apart?

Chocolate Chip Trip

Is it cool that their songs aren't the slightest bit catchy? Is it cool for everything to sound like one long introduction and have no hooks? Am I supposed to not have any sense of where I am or what I'm listening to as each track progresses? How do I differentiate the tracks from each other? Where am I?

Why are Tool fans so strange?

Why are Tool fans mostly comprised of heterosexual white people, and why do they all fetishize a group of 50 year old rockers? Why have Tool fans loved being toyed with for the last 13 years? Why did they tolerate the abuse and hatred of Maynerd James Keenan? Are Tool fans in an abusive relationship? Are they okay?

Can one "casually" listen to Tool?

Tool - Lateralus (Highest Quality HD)

Or is that weird? Do Tool fans wake up, hop in their car, and think to themselves, "You know what would be a great way to start my day? A 10 minute metal song that lyrically and sequentially aligns with the numerical code of Fibonacci's work."

Why does Fear Inoculum sound the same if you play it backwards and forwards?

Is the band commentating on our gluttonous behavior as consumers? Is it meant to show how a capitalist society creates an inability to differentiate between whether the goods and information we receive are genuine or recycled? Is it meant to soundtrack the collective loop of human suffering? Or is it pure creative liberty in its truest form, demonstrating that everything comes back full circle and that we all live and die and that nothing is actually new?

What Does "Fear Inoculum" mean?

TOOL - Fear Inoculum (Audio)

Does the album title refer to a literal injection of fear, or does it refer to the concept of aging? That at some point all of us will succumb to our own form of "fear innoculum" because we all fear dying and leaving the realm of our own understanding and subconscious? Is the whole album a commentary on the human experience? Is the human experience an existential lie we tell ourselves to keep us from succumbing to our own primordial impulses?

Do we even exist at all?

TOOL - Pneuma (Audio)

Or are we all trapped in our own perceptions of reality? How do we know our existence is even real? How do we know we're not just comatose beings, floating in an oculus rift of our own perceived realities? Do we have the ability to escape our fleshy bodies and experience true enlightenment and revelation, or are our bodies a cage we are trapped in and which prevent us from reaching nirvana? Does true enlightenment come only in death? Does Fear Inoculum refer to the idea that we may never be truly enlightened or spiritually awoken until we die, and that our fear of dying is exactly what keeps us trapped in the cycle of human suffering? Am I a Tool fan? Is my inability to understand the meaning of Tool mean I'm a Tool fan? Does Tool want me to understand them? Do I even understand myself? Does Tool's music unlock the secrets of the universe?

Music Lists

12 Black Indie Musicians to Support on Bandcamp Today

Bandcamp is waiving revenue shares today, and you should support POC artists.

Today is another Bandcamp Friday, meaning until midnight tonight, the platform will be waiving revenue shares and letting artists take 100 percent of profits.

Now more than ever, as Black Lives Matter protests occur around the world, it's extremely important to lift marginalized voices. The music industry has repeatedly erased Black voices throughout history, despite the fact that most mainstream genres were invented by Black people.

Keep Reading Show less

Why Tool Is Out of Date: No One Cares About Enigmatic Musicians

The band has been teasing a new album for 13 years, and now it seems that it will finally be released on August 30th. But do people even care anymore?


People are obsessed with enigmas, especially enigmatic musicians.

When The Weeknd released his critically acclaimed mixtape House of Balloons, his haunting voice, eerie production, and ambiguous lyrics were further studied and discussed because of his anonymity. He refused to reveal his identity and didn't make public appearances until he was already a certified underground icon. This kind of air of mystique has historically aided in generating buzz around a band or artist.

For Maynard James Keenan and the other members of Tool, the mystique surrounding everything, from their recording process to their lyrics, have raised them to an almost quasi-religious status among fans. In The Weeknd's case, it was revealed that the singer historically struggled with crippling shyness and anxiety. He wasn't anonymous by choice; the idea of fame reportedly scared the shit out of him. In contrast, for Keenan and the boys, they've purposefully kept their fans at arm's length. The quintet has been teasing a new album for 13 years, giving Tool fans the longest-lasting blue balls in the history of rock and roll.

Keenan has purposefully dodged questions surrounding a new Tool release, many times expressing frustration at journalists for even inquiring. In an interview with The Phoenix New Times in 2015, Keenan attacked his fan base and refused to discuss anything Tool-related. The interview came at the tail end of a two-year-long miscommunication. "The record will be out later this year," said Drummer Danny Carey in 2013 after admitting a near-fatal scooter accident temporarily derailed recording. Later that year, Keenan dismissed this notion, saying there were "no actual songs" even created yet. In 2014, Carey once again said a new Tool album would surface in "early 2014." Keenan once again denied these claims: "I can't write until I hear the sounds...and I haven't heard the sounds." The back and forth continued every year, all the way into 2018. "I'm saying definitely," Carey told Loudwire of a new Tool album. "We'll probably have it done in the first half [of the year] if things go as planned." He later told Kerrang! that the record was actually still a "work in progress." In March 2018, the band formally announced that they had actually just "entered the studio" to begin the "recording process."

Last week, guitarist Adam Jones took to Instagram to announce that the wait was finally over. While the caption spoke of his "excitement," fans were quick to point out how miserable Jones looked in the announcement photo. The new album is called Fear Inoculum and will supposedly be released on August 30th. Keenan followed up the band's announcement with an awkward statement of his own. "Our obsession with, and dream of, a world where BetaMax and Laser Disc rule has ended," he wrote. "Time for us to move on. But never fear. There's a brand new thing we think you're really gonna dig. It's called Digital Downloads and Streaming. Get ready for the future, folks!"

Tool has always had a perplexing resistance to mainstream conformity, and once upon a time, their enigmatic behavior no doubt contributed to their edgy and cool image. But to make such odd and dated statements about streaming music indicates a frontman out of touch with reality. Streaming is no longer the hip new wave of the "future" but the general norm, and if the band's sudden flux of online activity has proven anything, it's that that they know the general public has lost interest in the drama and mystery that encompassed "Tools 5th record."

Keenan's statement was, in its own way, a white flag, because they know if they were to release Fear Inoculum just like past Tool records, it would only appeal to the same fanatics Keenan once called "insufferable retards." The lethargic back and forth over the last 13 years became tiresome for many and painted Tool as hollow and self-obsessed. "Tool's entire marketing platform is steeped in a mystique that tool fans buy into any time you hear Maynard sort of express himself…" wrote a Tool fan on Reddit. Keenan, after A Perfect Circle's flaccid return, is forced to turn towards the band he hates most in order to regain mainstream relevance. At some point, the chicken has to come home to roost, but is it too late for Keenan and the boys?