September 22, 2023

New Fury Media

Music. Gaming. Nostalgia. Culture.

This Day In Music History: April 6th, 1993 – Tool emerge with alternative metal debut album, ‘Undertow’

Tool’s debut full-length Undertow arrived at quite the interesting time in music. Grunge had almost reached its peak popularity, with the likes of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden becoming worldwide stars. Pop-punk was just about to enter the mainstream, with albums from Green Day on the horizon. Hip-hop was starting to explode, hair metal was basically dead in the water, and there was room for many exciting bands to garner a name for themselves.

Enter Los Angeles’s Tool. They arrived at a time where diverse yet like-minded bands like Helmet, Rage Against The Machine, Faith No More, and many more gained popularity, and while these bands didn’t share every musical connection at the time, there’s no doubt that one shared connection was their willingness to experiment and try new ideas. For Tool, it was unorthodox song structures, an emphasis on technical musicianship, and aggression (as well as progression) ensured there would be a wave of imitators to come.

Featuring an appearance by Henry Rollins with a spoken word section on “Bottom”, the album kickstarted the career of one of music’s most enigmatic bands. In particular, the memorably distinct sound Tool forged here is often considered their heaviest record, and for good reason. Led by major singles “Sober” and the uncomfortable subject matter of “Prison Sex”, the menacing yet progressive album eventually went Triple Platinum in the USA. The band’s subsequent four albums have all reached the top two of the Billboard 200, with Lateralus, 10,000 Days, and Fear Inoculum reaching #1. What’s more is that unlike Helmet and most other bands of the alternative metal explosion, Tool accomplished this with lengthier songs that would routinely reach past the five-minute mark. Talk about forging your own identity.

New Fury Media