There's also their overuse of what seems to be the same key for their riffs over and over again--D minor, I think? "Drop D," is that what they call it? Prindle hated them and complained about their riffs in the intro on his page and I think that's the kind of thing he's talking about.
This problem got even worse when they came back with 10,000 Days in 2006, where I basically didn't like any of the album at all due to the relentless now-boring darkness of their sound.
It wasn't until years later that I bothered to hear Undertow, the one where the CD at Wal-Mart was a gigantic barcode (I guess that's a funnier gag than Janes Addiction putting the First Amendment on their own censored cover) and the best songs were...."Sober" and "Prison Sex" which I had heard years before and which are only the best because I could recognize their melodies, I hated that album too.
I think I listened to the 1992 debut EP, Opiate, maybe once, which had anti-religion snarling so juvenile-sounding that Roll The Bones looks like Aleister Crowley by comparison. Even a lot of their fans hate that one.
>Is there something wrong with me that I felt like they kind of seemed like they were missing some dorky Jordan Rudess keyboards?
*Robin Williams "blind gay man" voice* OH GOOD LORD CHRIST NOOOOOO.
Look, if there's a thread between them and their one-time tour-mates King Crimson it hearkens to the 1973-74 Crimson period with the heavy rock, Tool wanted to do drawn out sublime dark heavy stuff like "Larks' Tongues In Aspic, Part 2" themselves for sure. Tool weren't interested in dungeons & dragons or new age philosophy so yes 1973-74 Crimson would be the ideal link for them. I honestly don't think it's a stretch, although obviously classic Crimson is better than classic Tool.
Tool also aimed for a bit of sublime power with their weird mythology, which amounted to strange stuff in their liner notes, weird occult references in their lyrics, and the weird link tracks on their albums. Some of this stuff was actually well done and humorous--I LOL these years later at them telling people "Mantra" was a slowed down recording of a cat being squeezed--and some of it actually was creepy too, like try listening to "Faaip De Oaid" out in the middle of nowhere in the dark. But both the humorous tracks could suck ("Message To Harry Manback") as could the creepy ones ("ions"), so it's an either-or thing with them too. Then there's the lyrics--obviously I can't find profundity in the lengthy stuff people have written about "Forty-Six & 2" over the years, but they do work well because the song works well musically. See, I can't entirely write off the band as something you "grow out of," although obviously they're going to work their dark magic on you better when you're a pissed off 19 year old atheist college student. This is mostly Maynard James Keenan whom receives the most ire from the band's critics, and the fact that he did all those goofy side projects didn't help (remember Mike D sneering at Puscifer?) On a related note, Derrick Stuart hated them.
The band's best songs, which I all love to this day, remain: "The Grudge," "Parabol"/"Parabola," "Reflection," "Hooker With A Penis," "Forty-Six & 2," "Aenema," "Stinkfist," and the riff to "jimmy" coming out of "Intermission," another sublime moment. So I'll end on a note of saying something nice.
Wait, almost forgot--they're trying, badly, to complete a new album, Rolling Stone had an article about that last I checked. But I didn't read it.