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Tool: Salival (2000) – DVD Review

Tool: Salival DVD cover art


Directed by Ken Andrews, Adam Jones & Fred Stuhr


  • Five videos: “Hush,” “Sober,” “Prison Sex,” “Stinkfist,” “Ænema”
  • Bonus CD with eight tracks

Released by: Volcano
Region: 1
Rating: NR, but don’t let your kids pop it in
Anamorphic: N/A; videos appear in their original 1.33:1 format.

Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Own it.

Many, many moons ago, when I was in a band, Tool’s Opiate EP was one of the CDs I would use as a vocal warm-up on my way to gigs. People would ask me if I listened to Tool, due apparently to lead singer/vocal god Maynard’s influence on my particular stylings. That would always fill me with a sense of pride. When their next album, Undertow, came out, they had this disturbing little video for their single, “Sober,” which fascinated me. Featuring a deformed stop-motion puppet being tormented in a what appeared to be a blasted-out shell of a dead house, it was something I could watch over and over again, always finding some little bizarre nuance I had missed before.

Then, they released another video from Undertow, this one for the song “Prison Sex.” I saw it one time played on television and, honestly, that one time was enough to last me for a long while. Using mostly only symbolism, imagery, and more stop motion, the band had created one of the most disturbing pieces of film I had ever laid eyes upon. It took forever for a compilation of the band’s video work to hit shelves–and that was just enough time for me to recover.

The collection contains five videos in all, the first two I mentioned from Undertow, two additional videos from the Ænima album (“Stinkfist” and “Ænema”), and then one “hidden” video from Opiate, “Hush”. I must admit that when compared to the visual spectacle of the other four, “Hush” is a bit of a letdown. But then again, compared to their later video work, four naked guys with “Parental Advisory” signs over their unmentionables–well, there is no comparison.

Tool: Salival DVD

What’s really fascinating is watching the evolution of the video style. The first two videos are dealing primarily with stop-motion puppetry, whereas “Stinkfist” uses people and full sets in addition to more whacked-out puppetry. Filled with bizarre looking people who seem to have been dipped in a strange powdery paint, it’s an assault on one’s sanity. Of the four main videos, “Ænema” is probably the most technically challenging when you think about it, involving live action, stop-motion along with uses of water and light effects. However, it’s also the least disturbing of the four–and apart from rooms filling with water, it really seems to have nothing to do with the song it’s visualizing (which concerns the Big One hitting San Andreas and the inevitable results). Perhaps if the imagery had been more captivating, I wouldn’t have had time to think on this.

Packaged with the DVD is a CD containing eight tracks (and one bonus “hidden” track), mostly of live songs. First up is “Third Eye,” the magnum opus of Ænima, complete this time with Tim Leary audio samples instead of the Bill Hicks ones used on the original album. It’s, surprisingly, used as an opening song on tour as well–which belies its huge running time, though the entire thing is worthwhile. “Part of Me” comes next, and although it’s personally my least favorite song from Opiate, it’s played here live and with more ferocity than I remember it–it gets better with age, I guess. What follows is a reworking of Ænima‘s “Pushit,” starting off much slower and more introspectively and finally finishing with bonecrunching familiarity. It’s a nice new interp.

Stinkfist by Tool

Also of note on the CD are the covers of Peach’s “You Lied” and a studio version of Led Zeppelin‘s “No Quarter,” a regular Tool cover song. If the disc has a weak point, it’s “LAMC,” a parody of the L.A. Municipal Court’s touchtone automated answering service. It might be amusing, but it goes on for some time, and accompanied by a monotonous pounding rhythm–it gets old quickly.

Tool fans have been waiting for a video anthology of their work for six years–the good news is that for the most part it was worth the wait. Don’t get me wrong, a commentary track with the band talking about exactly how they went about creating some of their grisly effects would have been nice. Even a behind-the-scenes featurette would have been cool, since no featurette regarding Tool would be the usual boring fare we normally get with films. But still–the videos are there, and still impressive given multiple viewings. Tool fans should buy immediately, although those who aren’t quite so enamored with their musical stylings should probably just borrow somebody else’s.

Prison Sex by Tool

Many thanks to The Tool Page and their massive FAQ for helping me idiot check the review.

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