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While browsing through the CD collection of a Columbia House addicted friend I came upon this CD and was immediately intrigued. The reasons for this are twofold, first of all Tool is my favorite band. Secondly, I enjoy instrumentals. Therefore, I borrowed this CD and listened to it soon after getting home.

My enthusiasm was never completely satisfied. The artists took some of Tool’s most popular songs and redid them using only violins, violas, cellos, and contrabasses. While it was an intriguing new take on old favorites, it just didn’t work in the end. My expectation at the time was for a haunting retelling, the violins carry the songs imitating the rise and fall of Keenan’s voice. The true test of a moody instrumental interpretation is how it sounds when you’re in bed listening to it. In that last hour of the night just before you fall asleep. The songs should be relaxing but still carry you somewhere. The music should monopolize your thoughts but without being disruptive, facilitating going to sleep. This CD certainly shows the talent of these musicians and the untraditional use of their respective instruments, however they didn’t do justice to the original material.

The overall sound can be easily classified in one word: midi. This CD’s pitch and sound is more reminiscent with the midis made popular in mid-1990s website design, over that of a movie soundtrack. It’s odd, but the actual setting of the volume doesn’t matter. The instruments are just too highly pitched, and there’s not enough sound in the lower range. Not necessarily bass, but simply more cello perhaps. This has the effect of many bad live shows, where one instrument can drown out the rest. Whether it’s a band muffling the singer, or the drums drowning out the bass guitar, the effect is the same.

Admittedly, there is certainly the possibility that my expectations were groundless. This was my first exposure to a string tribute, as a result I’m hesitant to dissuade possible buyers. My suggestion is to hear a few tracks to see if this is what you’re looking for. My expectation of a string record is something that lingers with you well after the CD has stopped playing. The chords should resonate, if the song should happen to stop midway through it would take a few moments before you realize it, because you’ve been entranced by the music. I’m not an artist, nor a music aficionado, simply a typical buyer. I can appreciate female piano players, as well as rock artists with songs comprised of lyrical gibberish. At times all I’m looking for is a catchy beat or melody. This record shows the amazing scope of what a talented violinist can do, but it doesn’t add up. Music is difficult to explain in words, listen to the CD if it intrigues you and make your own judgment. My interpretation of string music is personified best by Requiem for a Dream’s soundtrack. Even without the movie the soundtrack can stand on its own – methodical, distinctly paced, evocative. My experience is limited but it’s specific and demanding. Logically this CD makes sense, but in practice it falls short. If your tastes are similar to mine then my suggestion is to not make the plunge unless you’re the most devoted Tool fan.

Violin: Eric Gorfain, Reggie Clews, Roland Hartwell, Pam Jacobson
Viola: Piotr Jandula, Tom Tally
Cello: Richard Dodd, Steve Velez
Contrabass Fred Charlton
Produced by: Jim McMillen, Eric Gorfain
A 2001 Vitamin Record release.

Track List

  1. Sober
  2. Intolerance
  3. The Grudge
  4. The Patient
  5. Opiate
  6. Hush
  7. Schism
  8. Ticks and Leeches
  9. Aenema
  10. Pushit

I'm naive as to the intricacies of music, especially string instruments. Please message me with any errors whether technical or grammatical. Comments and criticisms are appreciated as well.

There is an entire series of string tributes to bands out there, such as: Radiohead, Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson, System of a Down, and The Cure. As you can imagine, some of these seem like much better ideas than the others.

I think Third Eye Open and the follow-up album Metamorphic: The String Quartet Tribute to Tool, Vol.2 are both gorgeous pieces of work.

The violins carry Maynard's melody in pure lilting tones. In places two violins play simultaneously, adding extra depth to Maynard's original delivery.

Simultaneously, the violas and basses simplify and smooth out the intricacies of Danny Carey and Adam Jones' rhythm section, replacing Tool's cerebral metal sound with a deep, dark background.

I find either of these albums is best to listen to while driving alone on a cool dark night with the windows down and the volume up. There is something about the tension and motion of the all-string sound that really gets the old sympathetic nervous system going.

Metamorphic: The String Quartet Tribute to Tool, Vol.2

  1. Stinkifist 05:12
  2. Sweat 03:34
  3. Prison Sex 04:47
  4. Undertow 05:05
  5. Eulogy (Acoustic) 08:28
  6. Jimmy 05:28
  7. Lateralus 08:06
  8. Disposition 03:38
  9. Parabol 03:09
  10. Eulogy (Remix) 08:32
  11. Rampant (Original Composition) 04:44

2003, Vitamin Records.

The second album is distinctly different from the first: Metamorphic delves into the use of distortion, associating the violin more directly with Maynard's voice and using machines to make it sound tiny and far away, the same as Tool did in Stinkfist and Eulogy, among others. It also includes an original composition, a somewhat balls-y and unexpected move from a band that just released a two-volume set of other peoples' music. They pull it off, though: the song remains true to the Tool-on-violins sound, and actually comes out heavier than most of Tool's stuff does.

I highly recommend either of this to all fans of good metal and/or classical.

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