This Isn’t a German Fight Song

For the past thirty years, the band American-band Tool has been delighting fans with their eclectic mix of heavy metal, progressive rock, and other styles that defy traditional description. But for those of us outside of their sphere of influence, it’s fair to say Tool is mostly known as a metal band. The quartet has won four Grammys — three for “Best Metal Performance” and one for the cover art for one of their albums. They’ve released five studio albums, and the most recent three hit #1 on the Billboard 200, usually cited as the definitive ranking of music in the United States. If you’re into their type of music, they’re one of the best.

For outsiders, though, some of Tool’s music can feel aggressive and even threatening. For example, in 1996, the band released an album titled Ænima, to acclaim — it debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 and was later named by Rolling Stone magazine as the 18th best metal album of all time. But some of the inclusions on the album were controversial. For example, there’s a two-minute musical interlude/mini-song titled “Die Eier von Satan,” or “The Balls of Satan.” You can listen to it here, but unless you speak German, you won’t understand the song. Tool — being an American band — probably didn’t care, though, because their core members don’t speak German, either. The spoken-word lyrics are from Marko Fox, a German-speaking friend of theirs from another band. And Tool probably didn’t care if you understood the words, either — they were going for a certain effect. Wikipedia’s editors summarize the song thusly: “[Fox] is backed by a sound that resembles a hydraulic press, and crowd cheering and applause that increase in volume as the lyrics are read with increasing ferocity. These combined effects make the song sound like a militant German rant or Nazi rally.”

And as a general rule — one that probably shouldn’t need spelling out: songs that are evocative of Nazi rallies probably aren’t a good thing.

But Die Eier von Satan isn’t as bad as you think. Here are the lyrics (via here) and if you are a German speaker, you’ll immediately understand why.

Eine halbe Tasse Staubzucker
Einen Viertel Teelöffel Salz
Eine Messerspitze türkisches Haschisch
Ein halbes Pfund Butter
Ein’n Teelöffel Vanillenzucker
Ein halbes Pfund Mehl
Einhundertfünfzig Gramm gemahlene Nüsse
Ein wenig extra Staubzucker
Und keine Eier

In eine Schüssel geben
Butter einrühren, gemahlene Nüsse zugeben und den Teig verkneten

Augenballgroße Stücke vom Teig formen
Im Staubzucker wälzen und sagt die Zauberwörter
Simsalbimbamba Saladu Saladim

Auf einen gefettetes Backblech legen und bei zweihundert Grad für fünfzehn Minuten backen und keine Eier

Bei zweihundert Grad, fünfzehn Minuten backen
Und keine Eier

For those of us who don’t speak German, here’s how Google translates the above.

Half a cup of icing sugar
A quarter of a teaspoon of salt
A pinch of Turkish hashish
Half a pound of butter
A teaspoon of vanilla sugar
Half a pound of flour
One hundred and fifty grams of ground nuts
A little extra icing sugar
And no eggs

Put in a bowl
Stir in butter, add ground nuts and knead the dough

Shape the dough into pieces the size of an eye ball
Roll in powdered sugar and say the magic words Simsalbimbamba Saladu Saladim

Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at two hundred degrees for fifteen minutes

and no eggs

It’s a recipe for ball-shaped brownies. Hash brownies, sure, but still, it’s a recipe for brownies. An egg-less one, although that’s probably a joke-within-a-joke, as the word “Balls” in the title of the song could also be translated to mean “Eggs.” 

While there are some rumors that the song’s hidden message is itself a hidden message about nefarious things, most Tool fans agree that, in the words of one such fan on reddit, “it’s just a recipe,” and there’s nothing Nazi about it. As for the recipe itself, it’s probably best skipping this one; they look like this and per another fan on reddit, the end result “were basically little tasteless balls” and probably needed the eggs after all.

Bonus fact: Tool also has a nerdy side to their musical Easter eggs. The title track from their third studio album, Lateralus, has some hidden math in it. If you listen to the lyrics of the song (they start about 1m 37 seconds in, which you can find here), they’re spoken in a recognizable pattern. The lead vocalist says “black” and then “then,” followed by “white are,” and “all I see.” After that comes “in my infancy” and finally (for our purposes) “red and yellow then came to be.” If you count the syllables from each word or group of words, you’ll find that “black” and “then” each have one syllable, “white are” has two, “all I see” has three, “in my infancy” is five, and “red and yellow when came to be” has eight. 1-1-2-3-5-8 … that’s the start of the Fibonacci sequence. The song continues to run up and down segments of the sequence throughout the lyrics. 

From the Archives: Swedish Lemon Angels: Another recipe you shouldn’t make.