Was TOOLs debut 1993 album UNDERTOW underrated? Some say it was the tipping point for a new era of Metal

Did TOOL help to kill off Grunge?

AC SPEED  SENIOR EDITOR
Posted 02.08.2019 09:03
Updated 02.08.2019 10:13

TOOL Album

UNDERTOW

1993

As TOOL announce the release of their first album in 13 years, FEAR INOCULUM, they also launch their entire back catalogue onto popular streaming services as of today, August 2nd, 2019. It’s been 26 years since their debut record, UNDERTOW, which landed top 20 chart positions in the UK and the USA. Many say it was a tipping point and a major contributing factor to the downfall of Grunge. But was it underrated or way too hyped?

1994 is considered to be the ultimate death of the iconic Seattle Grunge era that immortalized the likes of Sound Garden, MudHoney, Screaming Trees, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Melvins, TAD, and Stone Temple Pilots. The stars of the day were none other than Nirvana. Deserved or not, this trio are seen as the poster boys for Grunge which is why many recount 1994 as the day the music died. We don’t really need to state why, do we?

Whilst the death of Kurt Cobain is now symbolic with the demise of Grunge, if you take a closer look you can see that it was due to come to an abrupt end, as do all genres over the decades. With its roots deeply buried in the 1980s, Grunge had seen its 15 minutes of fame in the commercial spotlight, and it was time for a new breed of musicians to rock the boat.

Bands like Korn, Slipknot, and Rage Against The Machine formed in the early to mid-90s who would later contribute to the rise of political rock and Nu-Metal. However, there was another storm brewing in Los Angeles, California. A technical storm fueled by creativity and progression.

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When TOOL released their debut record, UNDERTOW, it somehow managed to completely challenge the sound of the day, raging directly towards the ethos of Grunge whilst still being incredibly relatable to a commercial audience. It seems that Grunge may have only succeeded in temporarily suppressing people’s hunger for Metal and Thrash that dominated the 80s but just didn’t have the legs to hold it together when a new resurgence of Progressive Metal showed up.

UNDERTOW was different, it was raw, it was fresh, but more importantly, it was a very honest sound. Grunge had become heavily overproduced, somewhat saturated and had been given the Hollywood glitz treatment. TOOL offered the avid music listener a gateway to another dimension. TOOL were in the right place at the right time. Had they released their debut record a few years later, or a few years earlier it would have gone largely unnoticed for sure.

Can they take control again with their new record FEAR INOCULUM this August?

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