Music

Evolution Calling: Tool – "Die Eier Von Satan" and "Pushit"

Tool prepares for Ænima's final act with a nine-minute epic--and a cookie recipe.


Tool

Ænima

Label: Volcano
US release date: 1996-10-01
Amazon
iTunes

A month after Ænima's release, another notable metal album hit record stores. That LP, Antichrist Superstar came with considerable more fanfare since its lead singer was enjoying being the target of protests from conservative leaders. During its Antichrist Superstar heyday, Marilyn Manson relished the title of "band most likely to piss off Congress" by mocking religious institutions, incorporating fascist imagery in its clothing, and live shows, and gleefully stoking obscene rumors about what goes on during its live shows (the rumor of the group refusing to play a note more until a concert crowd sacrificed a puppy remains a personal favorite).

Tool wasn't nearly as over-the-top as Marilyn Manson, but that didn't mean that the band didn't capitalize on a few mainstream misconceptions. To call the band's early-'90s videos at least partially disturbed would be a noncontroversial statement. Ditto the band's liner notes (see the PETA-enraging fork-and-pig artwork on Undertow).

If such a band were to include a song that included a menacing tune sung in German with rallying crowd noise in the background, you may be inclined to cite this track as yet another example of how far we've sunk morally as a culture. Unless, of course, you did your homework and took into account that sometimes said band enjoys ridiculing peoples' knee-jerk reactions to render judgment. If said song was actually not a call to violence (despite the foreboding, lurching industrial beat), but instead was an egg-free cookie recipe, that would actually be pretty amusing.


Thematically, Ænima is one of the more concise concept albums in rock. The album began with a remarkable string of powerful, yet insanely catchy songs. Most of the tracks dealt with the concept of change and evolution. However, even the most avid Tool fan has to admit the middle portion of Ænima takes a few odd left turns. Instead of the lean verse/chorus/verse arrangements of "Forty Six & 2" and "Eulogy", listeners get disjointed answering machine messages and cookie recipes over the screams of a Germanic rally. So, by the time "Pushit" comes in, you get the feeling that Tool is beginning to lay the foundations for the album's final act as it veers back into more traditional song structures.

"Pushit" reunites Tool with its love for the slow, winding eight minute-plus epic. The song also returns to the recurring theme of abuse. And like some of the best songwriting, the lyrics are concrete while leaving the song wide open to interpretation ("I'm alive when you're touching me / Alive when you're shoving me down / But I'd trade it all / For just a little bit of / Peace of mind"). One listen to "Pushit" reveals a brutal relationship between a child and his or her abusive parents. Another listen may reveal a poisonous, codependent relationship that offers no escape for either party. Like most of Ænima, it leaves the listener to put the pieces together.

The chorus "But you're pushing me" fits nicely with the overall music of "Pushit". Divided into three segments, the song sways from Adam Jones' vicious guitar riffs to a brooding middle section, propelled by Justin Chancellor's bass. Each section is so sharply plotted that even at nine minutes, "Pushit" manages to sound free of flab.

Bill Hicks routinely joked that he was losing people when he went off on one of his tangents in his acts, and he had to "reel" people back into the fold. After a few songs that tested listener's ability to go down the path Tool lays out on Ænima, "Pushit" is the song that brings listeners back into the album and readies them for the ferocious title track.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Film

Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.

Music

Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Music

Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.

Music

'Sell You Everything' Brings to Light Buzzcocks '1991 Demo LP' That Passed Under-the-Radar

Cherry Red Records' new box-set issued in memory of Pete Shelley gathers together the entire post-reunion output of the legendary Buzzcocks. Across the next week, PopMatters explores the set album-by-album. First up is The 1991 Demo LP.

Music

10 Key Tracks From the British Synthpop Boom of 1980

It's 40 years since the first explosion of electronic songs revitalized the UK charts with futuristic subject matter, DIY aesthetics, and occasionally pompous lyrics. To celebrate, here's a chronological list of those Moog-infused tracks of 1980 that had the biggest impact.

Reading Pandemics

Poe, Pandemic, and Underlying Conditions

To read Edgar Allan Poe in the time of pandemic, we need to appreciate a very different aspect of his perspective—not that of a mimetic artist but of the political economist.

Books

'Yours, Jean' Is a Perfect Mixture of Tragedy, Repressed Desire, and Poor Impulse Control

Lee Martin's Yours, Jean is a perfectly balanced and heartbreaking mix of true crime narrative and literary fiction.

Music

The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.