Britain's Kerrang! magazine (web site) was granted an exclusive listening session to the just-completed, as yet-untitled fourth TOOL album, which is due out May, and has revealed that anyone expecting the Californian quartet to have gone soft with age willl be sorely disappointed. True to form, TOOL's upcoming opus is a 77-minute, 11-song prog-metal odyssey, packed with plenty of eight minute-plus twisted riff-a-thons, odd-tempo polyrhythms and the band's trademark, eerie interludes. It's also arguably their heaviest, most punishing material since their 1993 breakthrough album "Undertow", according to Kerrang!
"We've all been listening to a lot of MESHUGGAH," admitted guitarist Adam Jones. "I see a lot of them in us and us in them, and they really have a very experimental prog side to them. I don't think it was like, 'Okay, right here were going to play like MESHUGGAH,' but more, 'Oh my God, that's come out a MESHUGGAH moment.'"
"We have the most retarded President we've ever had, and we're frustrated and that's the reason it's a little heavier this time," drummer Danny Carey told Kerrang! "That level of frustration back like when we first got the band together: we were products of that fucking Reagan thing, we were pissed off and bummed out, we had that angst, and now it's coming forth again: like it or not, we're products of our environment. We're pissed off again."
No stranger to weaving social and political frustrations into his tortuously articulate lyrics, singer Maynard James Keenan who released the politically-motivated covers album, "eMOTIVe" with A PERFECT CIRCLE in 2004, has chosen another approach this time around.
"I think for me, and this is just personally, the last few years have really been crushing," Keenan told Kerrang! "For me, as an artist, I needed to see on some level if speaking my mind would actually inspire people — you see the sky falling and you feel like you've got to say something. I think of prior TOOL albums 'AEnema' and 'Lateralus', lyrically, I had this idea of trying to share things and push some kind of higher purpose — enlightenment, this global consciousness thing — and everything that's going on nowadays has kind of left me a little disappointed, a little bummed.
"So I think on this album I've talked more about my personal stuff, things that I needed to get off my chest," he added. "It's a little cynical and it's almost like coming from a sad place. There's some hope in it, but it's more back to rock and roll basics, just expressing some very big sadness that's from the gut."
"This is our blues record, were singing the blues!" joked Carey.
"The difference is before, we had that young spunk and we thought we could actually say something and help people realise these things" continued Keenan. "But now, the anger is more of a frustrated anger, and me sitting back and going, 'Okay, I'm going to shut up now, I'm going to stop ranting and trying to be chicken little telling you that the sky is falling, I'm going to just let you guys get hit in the head.'"