Maynard James Keenan no longer has the voice he once did

Tool are increasingly perfect in their irregularity

Tool return to Italy five years after their last appearance and they do so with the complicated task of saving this limping edition of Firenze Rocks. It was the Visarno Arena festival that hosted Maynard James Keenan and his associates in 2019, on that evening whose memory is certainly still vivid in anyone who had the privilege of taking part in it. It was the year of the release of Fear Inoculum, the fifth studio album that was coveted by fans all over the world for so long that it made that tour a sort of shamanic ritual, as powerful as it was liberating.

It is therefore repeated, five years later. And it is useless – but also impossible – to hide it: Tool are the real reason why this edition of Firenze Rocks took place anyway, despite the many difficulties. But if there are musicians with shoulders so broad that they ignore any premise or context, well, it's Tool. The same ones who managed to keep the world of music in check by promising the release of the successor to “10,000 Days” for almost thirteen years, without this in any way dampening the hype for the album that effectively put a seal on it over the decade and accompanied the world towards a new chapter. In a frightening divinatory exercise that in hindsight detaches one's jaw, Justin Chancellor presented the work by explaining that Fear Inoculum means “vaccinate yourself from the things that scare you”, with a panegyric on the salvific role of music as an antidote against the fear that annihilates thought .

Today Tool appear on stage with the awareness that Fear Inoculum has had enough time to act under the skin, to settle and leave an indelible mark. After the perfect introduction offered by “Jambi”, it is the turn of the title track of the latest album and the reception speaks clearly: there are no second-class songs or albums when you are the band that makes the proverbial championship apart. There will be no shortage of those who will complain about the absence of Schism, The Plot, Ænima or Lateralus, also and above all because in the fan base you are fishing blindly among the most pedantic and demanding music lovers on the planet, but that's how it is.

This time, however, it would be really unfair to complain about the live performance. The sounds are excellent and this alone makes the date of June 15th a small happy island in a summer marked by controversy over the quality of the live shows offered in our country. From the volumes that were too low, to the outrageous mixes, everything suggested that this could be yet another concert from which one would leave with red-hot fingers, ready to type yet another vitriolic comment on the smartphone keyboard. But no: Tool can be heard loud and clear. In support there are the alienating visuals created by Adam Jones, a fundamental and indispensable part of the experience.

Keenan's silhouette is as always all we can see of the frontman. Except for a few flashes that illuminate him fleetingly, revealing the iconic makeup, for the rest of the show he remains in the shadows, moving in an animalistic and primordial way. Moreover, in the meantime, between the production of his wine and the tours with Puscifer and A Perfect Circle, he also managed to become a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. The question isn't so much “how does he do it all?”, but rather “how does he do everything so damn well?”. It even seems that his continuous improvements in martial arts have made his movements on stage even more magnetic and fluid. His is a maniacal mission to perfect perfection and unregulate irregularity, in a virtuous circle in which Adam Jones, Justin Chancellor and Danny Carey also take part, each author of a sensational performance.

They are aliens who came from a remote planet, governed by laws totally different from those we know. This is why they manage to be oxymorically perfect and irregular at the same time. This is why they are incomparable. They are here to show us at their discretion, with their times and their methods, a glimpse of that dark and fascinating world that leaves us disoriented but in the grip of an ecstasy that is difficult to describe and impossible to replicate.


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