Benjamin Kuettel

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Last Active 10-25-21 11:56 pm
Joined 08-27-12

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10.04.21 Every Tool Song Ranked 12.15.20 Top 20 of 2020
10.28.20 3000 Album Ratings 12.23.19 50 Best Albums of the Decade Ranked
12.14.19 Ben's 25 Favorite Albums of 2019 Ranked 01.15.19 50th Anniversary of King Crimson
12.20.18 Top 25 Records of 2018 12.19.17 Talons' 2017 Favorites
09.13.17 Top 100 albums since - 2000 - Ratings f 08.26.17 Talons' 5 Year Sputversary
03.30.17 Concerts I've Attended 12.08.16 Talons' 2016 Favorites
02.08.16 Snow day jams11.07.15 Talons Turns 21 Years Old
05.22.15 Recent CD Purchases/Last.fm Scrobble/Co05.08.15 Mad Men (spoilers)
01.05.15 10,000 Comments10.30.14 Halloween
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Every Tool Song Ranked

No one talks about this band, so I thought I’d make a list and give them some attention XD but in all seriousness, I felt an urge to rank their songs after jamming Fear Inoculum for the umpteenth time the other day, and finally feeling like I can objectively view it and rank with their previous albums. They’re obviously one of my favorite bands who I’ve been listening to for over half of my life now. Their albums from best to worst for me are Lateralus, Aenima, 10,000 Days, Fear Inoculum, Undertow, Salival, and Opiate. I didn’t bother to rank the short interludes because it’s kind of pointless, and this took long enough to write as is. Drop your own favorite songs in the comment section if you want.

The Gaping Lotus Experience: The hidden track at the end of Opiate is basically a joke song with humorous lyrics. Barely eligible for this list tbh. All their interludes would be ranked below this, though Harry Manback is also humorous.

Disgustipated: Also barely eligible for this list, though the skit at the beginning and tribute to Bill Hicks is nice. The sounds of them shooting a piano with a shotgun is also fun to imagine them doing. The last eight minutes of crickets chirping and random recordings are pretty much useless. Basically the real songs in the ranking begin after this.

H**ker with a P***s: A thrashy, pissed off track with lyrics defying a fan who apparently made the odd claim that the band "sold out," which I assume referred to Undertow, as this is only their second full-length album. No idea what the song title means. Some like this track a lot, and it's perfectly fine for what it is. Hardly a display of the band's songwriting talents though.
Fear Inoculum

Chocolate Chip Trip: The most I can say about this is that I've never heard anything like it. Pretty much a waste of a Danny Carey solo, but thankfully Merkaba exists.

Sweat: An okay hard rock song that sees the band at their most straightforward.

Maynard's D*ck: The band's best joke song that's actually pleasant to listen to. Was probably a fun recording session.

Part of Me: Don’t feel too strongly about this one, totally acceptable early Tool. One of their shortest and to the point. Very proto-Undertow.

Hush: I believe this is their most well-known pre-Undertow song, lyrically a spirited middle finger to Tipper Gore and censorship.

Bottom: My least favorite off Undertow, but it does have its strengths. There’s some nice guitar work in the second half, but overall one of their weakest.

Jerk-Off: A highly energetic track with one of Maynard's most ferocious vocal performances, this is one of the better tracks off the Opiate EP.

Swamp Song: This one also has some nice instrumental sections, but nothing particularly special and I’m not crazy about the chorus.

Opiate: Opiate shows a more evolved side of the band that wouldn’t sound out of place on Undertow or even Aenima. There are some nice bass harmonics as well that foreshadows how integral that instrument would be to their overall sound going forward. The best pre-Undertow song, though Cold and Ugly is slightly higher for me due to nostalgia with having covered it live.

Crawl Away: I used to really like this song, but the songs afterwards in the track listing are just better. But there’s still a lot to enjoy here, especially the fantastic and driving second half.

Prison S**: One of the most popular early songs despite the bleakness, having more of an alt. rock sound. There’s plenty of variety and riffage going on to make it great, but there’s still even better just on Undertow.

Cold and Ugly: Rock solid early Tool song. I love the whole instrumental section in the middle, being likely the most complex bass line I’ve played in front of others at a concert setting. Learning this song alone took my playing to another level, and it’s just a blast to play.

Merkaba: This is mainly notable for being a fantastic drum solo from Danny Carey, and not a whole lot else. The whole Salival live album has gems like this throughout, including an amazing live version of Pushit. Perhaps a precursor to Chocolate Chip Trip from Fear Inoculum.

Intolerance: The opener of Undertow comes right out of the gate with an excellent balance of heaviness and technical playing from all the instrumentalists. An almost too long build-up leads to a tasty guitar groove that’s an album highlight. Easily one of the band’s best shorter tracks.

4°: One of the more progressive songs on the album, this showcases their compositional abilities early on with a longer run time and a rare guitar solo from Adam that sounds more traditionally “rock” than a lot of the later ones.

Flood: Like Bottom, this has a too long build-up but the second half is a glorious pay off of proto-Aenima guitar work and fantastic vocals from Maynard.

No Quarter: A truly daring Led Zeppelin cover that largely alters the original for a hypnotizing result and classic Tool jamming. It practically sounds like a different song really.

Sober: One of the most popular Tool songs is also a highlight of their early career, with a fantastic chorus driven by Maynard's emotive performance. This goes to show that Tool are just as adept at mainstream sounding songs as they are progressive epics.

Undertow: The best track on the album, I had a blast learning this on guitar and playing with my friend on drums when we were younger. This is really Adam Jones’s show, with riffing and playing notes all over the neck. Time signature changes also give it a real push-and-pull effect, which makes sense given the title.

You Lied: Another cover that they really turn into their own, sounding truly like psychedelic metal. This is essentially an excuse to transform an existing piece of music into something that sounds uniquely like Tool, and foreshadows their later excursions into longer and more complex pieces.

Triad: The first track of their best album on the list. Triad is a highly enjoyable heavy rock instrumental that jams its way through the run time and acts as a nice coda to what came before. The more up tempo, straightforward nature almost makes it sound like a throwback to their early work.
Fear Inoculum

Culling Voices: The worst “real” song on Fear Inoculum isn’t bad at all, with a nice long, calm build-up lasting six minutes which leads to a not so remarkable second half of heavy metal that I can’t help but feel could have been a bit more special.
10,000 Days

Right in Two: Very fun to play on guitar and bass, especially with those harmonics. This track tackles the evolution of man and is highly adventurous from a songwriting standpoint. The best parts are the intro and extended tabla solo in the middle. Maynard says monkey too much though.
Fear Inoculum

Fear Inoculum: This was a big deal, being their first new song in 13 years. However, I feel that as strong as it is, essentially acts as a reintroduction of their sound with multiple sections almost reaching self-plagiarism levels of familiarity. I was happier with the following three songs in the track list that sounded a bit more fresh.

Intermission/Jimmy: A haunting song, with Maynard sounding odd and using some highly impressive vocal techniques throughout. This is really his show, and Justin Chancellor’s.
10,000 Days

Intension: A highly underrated and gorgeous song that leads into Right in Two. I just love the ethereal guitar and bass lines that create a stunning atmosphere throughout, and the glitchy drums is a very nice touch.

Ticks & Leeches: This one is a real trip. While famous for Danny Carey’s time in the spotlight with his fantastic playing and Maynard’s passionate and full on metal vocal performance, needing weeks to recover his voice after the recording session apparently, it also boasts a very long, quiet build-up that makes the climax even more impactful when it happens. Pretty much the last time in their career we’d hear this kind of heaviness from the band, as they go more artsy and meditative in the future.

The Patient: A perfectly good Lateralus track with particularly strong guitar leads from Adam Jones. It doesn’t have quite the same power as the album highlights, but lives up to them nonetheless.

Eulogy: A more straightforward heavy song on Aenima, but the long, quirky intro is an album highlight. The last minute especially has some brain melting guitar work from Adam Jones, and Maynard sounds great throughout.
Fear Inoculum

Pneuma: One of their proggiest tracks to date, this one unfolds patiently but rewards with stunning bass leads and a beautiful, lengthy instrumental section with what sounds like tabla drumming and a droney guitar solo.

Ænema: Hilarious lyrics about California sinking into the ocean and a scorching condemnation of the shallowness and self-centered Los Angeles culture. The chorus is a classic Tool moment, and Adam Jones is once again the centerpiece with killer playing up and down the neck.
10,000 Days

Jambi: Mind-bending bass effects are the centerpiece in this song about what seems like a pilgrim’s fateful encounter with a genie in a distant land. Despite some of the dreamy sections, there’s also a noticeable Meshuggah influence in the main guitar riff, with that mix lending a very unique flavor to the whole song.

Stinkfist: One of the highlights of Aenima, this introduced the world to the beginning of Tool’s greatness, condensing so much of their strengths into a relatively short run time. The bridge section is truly wonderful and transcendent.
10,000 Days

Vicarious: Another one of their most progressive songs, this kicks off the centerpiece on guitar work that 10,000 Days was for the band. They were always incredible, but Adam and Justin get even more technical here and intertwine their melodies for an enchanting intro. The whole song proceeds like vintage Tool, but in a new way somehow. Amazing music video as well.
Fear Inoculum

Invincible: It may seem strange to score this so high, but it’s just such a classic sounding Tool song in a new album that really spoke to me. The last few minutes also ties the whole thing together, being a band highlight. The lyrics are empowering and could be interpreted in many different ways.

Pushit: This place in the ranking is an average with the live version, which would be in the top 10. The studio version would be around 20th for me. Both versions are an absolutely transcendent piece of art, with all elements of their sound coalescing into a beautiful climax that’s truly hypnotic.
10,000 Days

The Pot: This brings back that old school Tool rebellion, with defensive lyrics and a strong instrumental groove and low key technical drumming by Carey, making it sound effortless. The bass though is truly the lead here, anchoring the whole song and being a blast to play as well.
Fear Inoculum

Descending: One of the only songs on the new one that lives up to the greatest Tool has to offer, Descending is a behemoth of a track that goes through so many different moods and energies it’s stunning. The band’s best qualities are on display here.

H.: Perhaps the most surprising placement, I’ve always loved this underrated song from Aenima. The last third is the band at their most emotive up to this point, with an ascending feeling that reminds me of A Perfect Circle. Another short track where they pack every minute with greatness and sonic variety.
10,000 Days

Lost Keys/Rosetta Stoned: We have entered the top 10! Naysayers might dismiss Rosetta Stoned as a joke song given the rapid-fire first verse of Maynard emulating an alien abductee on LSD, but at the minute and thirty second mark this begins a descent into a full on jam session of progressive metal goodness and amazing guitar work. The instrumentalists seemingly push themselves to the limit, and it should not come as a surprise that it’s even more impressive when you try to play it yourself and realize just how technical it really is.

Parabol/Parabola: A classic, with one of the greatest transitions from an intro to the amazing main riff of any rock band (meaning Parabol into Parabola). Parabola is one of the greatest Tool songs for numerous reasons, with one of the most recognizable progressive metal guitar lines and out-of-body spiritual transcendence as the lyrical theme. The guitars are truly adventurous here, being Adam Jones’s show to blow away listeners.

The Grudge: The perfect marriage of early Tool with the evolution of their sound in Lateralus, The Grudge is a real face melter. It opens the album by laying out the greatness that will be in store with an incredible composition, perfect guitar and bass interplay, psychedelic effects, and a mind-blowing vocal performance by Maynard.
Fear Inoculum

7empest: I can’t think of more of a treat that Fear Inoculum had in store than a 15+ minute progressive metal odyssey of endless guitar riffing and incredible instrumental virtuosity. There are enough ideas packed into this monster for a dozen songs, but they somehow weaved them all together for a veritable cornucopia of Tool indulgence that couldn’t have turned out better. The intro and outro channel Discipline by King Crimson and classic Tool polyrhythms as well. I can’t get enough of 7empest, and it was a well-deserved Grammy win.

Schism: Mainstream Tool doesn’t get better than this. It’s not easy to write a perfect song, but Tool did it several times including with Schism. I can’t believe how technical this is with the time signature changes while sounding as assessable as it does. Danny shines with his otherworldly drumming skills, and Maynard delivers cryptic lyrics and impassioned singing while the guitar and bass sound like they’re in the astral plane. It may sound silly, but I don’t know how else to describe it. The bridge section in particular is blissful perfection. The pieces truly fit on this one.

Forty Six & 2: A powerhouse track that proves you don’t need drugs to get high. This is a good candidate for their best bass line, which is saying quite a lot. This has a special place in my heart and just remember how inspired I felt listening to it and feeling the power of the music going through me at a young age. A journey for the soul.

Third Eye: I always felt like this didn’t get as much love as it should. Adam Jones’s guitar tone is out of this world, and his solo at the end is one of the best sections of music Tool ever wrote. This epic has so many amazing qualities, and foreshadowed the ambition of the following album and how they would evolve further.

Lateralus: This is often called the greatest Tool song, and I can’t disagree. In a lot of ways, it is their flagship song. Progressive, emotive, amazingly written, I can’t quite believe this and the next two were written by humans and not aliens or higher beings. The guitar intro is nothing short of iconic, and the whole thing feels like a spiritual journey. Ride the spiral.
10,000 Days

Wings for Marie: I’m still affected by the emotional resonance of Wings for Marie. I’m not entirely sure what the point of part 1 is, and this placement is mainly for 10,000 Days (part 2). The subject matter is heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful, with Maynard sounding vulnerable but in a state of peace and acceptance by the end with coming to terms with his mother’s death. It’s a truly powerful composition with ethereal, moody guitar and bass lines setting the mood, before eventually transitioning into gorgeous art rock where everyone gets to shine respectively and deliver some of their best work of the band’s career. As I’ve said about many of their songs, this is ridiculously fun to play on bass. All the band’s best qualities are on display here, being a watershed moment for them in my opinion.

Disposition/Reflection: At times, I would say this is my all-time favorite song. It’s truly magical to me, with an enveloping atmosphere and unlike anything else I’ve heard in my life. I don’t think words can really do it justice though. Reflection is a singular experience for each listener, and when listened to at the right time is a religious experience. I really felt like I left my body for a moment at times, no exaggeration. Reflection is nothing short of a masterpiece, and it’s one of the reasons why I love music and embodies how much this art form can make a person feel and touch their soul. I know it’s easy to dismiss them for how popular they’ve become and how obnoxious their fans can be with praising them to no end, but I think this band has an incredible gift and they’re without a doubt one of the most important aspects of my musical life.
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