WHO ARE THEY? The artsy, psychedelic prog-metal band from L.A. whose music is almost as complex as iconoclastic frontman Maynard James Keenan — though perhaps less complicated than his relationships with fame, his bandmates and Tool’s massive legion of insanely dedicated fans.
WHAT IS THIS? The band’s seventh studio album and their long-overdue followup to 2006’s 10,000 Days — aka the very thing those rabid fans have been impatiently awaiting for nearly 5,000 days.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? A Tool lover’s dream come true. Which is to say: A sprawling 80-minute voyage divided into seven epic tracks (plus three experimental soundscapes in the deluxe version), all fashioned from serpentine grooves and prime-number time signatures, beefy drums and searing guitars, shape-shifting arrangements and mind-expanding textures — all topped with Keenan’s creepy croon and articulate, ambiguous lyrics.
WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? Are You Fucking Happy Now?
HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? On repeat: It will surely take multiple spins before these cuts — which average 11 minutes in length — even begin to disclose their secrets. Although one seems fairly obvious: The number seven appears to be a recurring theme musically, lyrically and conceptually.
WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Monumental, powerful, labyrinthine, fascinating, deliberate, engrossing, immersive, exotic, umbral, uncompromising.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? It might very well change every time you listen to the album, but the pulverizing centrepiece Descending and the grinding closer 7empest are early standouts for me.
WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘That was certainly worth the wait.’
HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? If you’re a fan, pretty much constantly. If you’re not, well, you’re probably not listening to Tool anyway.
IF THIS ALBUM WERE A MOVIE, WHAT KIND OF MOVIE WOULD IT BE? An experimental documentary consisting of slow-motion pans and time-lapse footage showcasing the vast mysteries of the Earth and the universe.
SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? You’ve had 13 years to save your pennies.