With COG Back, Who Needs A New Tool Album Anyway?

Photography by Britt Andrews @brittandrewsphotography: Sydney's Metro Theatre 17/7/16
Review: The Billboard, Melbourne 15/7/16

After a five-year absence, Sydney progsters COG return with a slew of sold-out shows across the country, and a live show that puts their genre’s heavyweights to shame. I hit the Melbourne leg of their tour to dissect the comeback.

It’s about two-and-a-half songs in to COG’s superb set when the penny drops: they’re called “COG” because it’s like—and they like—Tool. Lucius Borich claims he “found the word Cog In the dictionary and like[d] the way it stood out”. However, in light of the evidence, that seems about as convincing as Danny Carey claiming he wanted his band’s music to be a “tool” to aid therapeutic crying, and not because it’s a simile for “penis”.

Tool’s influence on the Bondi three-piece has always been apparent. Along with the obvious sonic similarities, there’s the fact that both of COG’s albums to date have been produced by Sylvia Massy, who also worked with Tool on their first two releases, but in the live setting the similarities take on a whole new life and meaning.

Visually, the comparison is striking. The stage set-up is centred around Borich’s impressive, gong-adorned, drum kit; bearded-bassist Luke Gower fills in for Justin Chancellor on house right while, over on the left, his brother Flynn plays the role(s) of Adam Jones and Maynard James Keenan, all rolled into one. Yet, it’s the music that matters most, and it’s in the music that COG stake their strongest claim to the mighty Californians’ crown.

Like Tool, COG aren’t afraid to shy away from their earlier material. The band open tonight’s show with a deep cut from 2005’s The New Normal, and continue to use their debut’s harder-hitting track to offset the more-contemplative material from 2008’s Sharing Space, as well as delving into even earlier material, when paying tribute to Australia’s indigenous community with “Moshiach”.


Weather it was these older cuts; the band’s latter, more-commercially successful material, or even an unexpected cover of ‘Open Up’ by obscure, ‘90s, UK, dance crew Leftfield, the sold-out crowd responded with overwhelming enthusiasm—be it through singing along with each and every word, or being carried away by the band’s infectious rhythms.

It’s always been somewhat baffling that a band as complex and esoteric as Tool could break through the mainstream, to the point where they’re headlining festivals and living in eccentric, multi-million-dollar mansions. Tool have always seemed like an anomaly, a once in a lifetime event. However, with the return of COG, we might just see a replication of this seemingly unique occurrence.

COG are back, and we’re lucky to have them.

About Joshua Bulleid

Joshua Bulleid lives in Melbourne and enjoys reading books with spaceships and robots in them. He also likes death metal.

View all posts by Joshua Bulleid

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