Wovenhand and Tool kneel before entirely different altars. The former evangelizes on behalf of Living God Ministries, while the latter prefers the darker arts, possessing the pagan magic that defined post-Altamont psychedelia. At the Cedar Park Center on Thursday, both brought Biblical wrath on par with Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Essentially the solo project of 16 Horsepower’s David Eugene Edwards, Wovenhand issued a 30-minute sermon that leaned heavily on the trio’s latest hex dispenser, The Threshingfloor. Like Big Brother transmitted through a CB radio, Edwards sounded more possessed than Paul James, shaking his whole body as if overcome with the spirit as he pounded out ominous and tribal incantations of Americana on banjo and electric guitar. It was a tent revival in a sold-out stadium setting.
“Be still and know there is a God,” he testified at one point. “Be still and know he is good.” Amen.
Without an album to support or new material to test out, Tool delivered the closest thing possible to a greatest hits collection. Not that the band actually writes “hits.” Despite notching a handful of improbable radio singles, Tool is a rare beast, a band that has achieved mainstream success on its own terms with incredibly dense, bleak, and visceral narratives that are almost conceptual to a fault.
Tool opened with “Third Eye,” a 15-minute purgatorial sojourn comparable to Pink Floyd skipping straight to “Echoes” on Meddle, and the bar never dropped from there. The near-two hour spectacle boiled the group’s four mercurial elements down to their bare essence: the exacting, suspenseful guitar fissures of Adam Jones; Justin Chancellor’s downward spiraling bass lines; Maynard James Keenan’s evolutionary posturing and cryptic vocals, emerging from within the core of the group’s sound; and drummer Danny Carey, who somehow manages to play both with and around his bandmates. The effect was equal parts industrial menace and psychedelic revelation, hypnotic yet awakening.
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