Review Summary: Tool's first classic. A very dark and introspective album that will require your time. Be patient though and you will be rewarded with one of the most enjoyable and powerful albums out there.Tool:
Maynard James Keenan –Vocalist
Adam Jones – Guitar
Justin Chancellor – Bass
Danny Carey - Drums
How do you begin to describe a band like Tool? They’ve got this secluded hobbit of a lead vocalist who uses fake breast implants to disguise himself at concerts. Then they have their giant drummer Danny Carey who seems more interested in the Occult at times rather than their own music. And what genre do you classify them under? I’ve heard everything from psychedelic, to progressive rock, to heavy metal. I’ve just settled with psychedelic math metal. (I saw it somewhere and thought it was cool.) But I think we can all agree that Tool is Tool and that they do things their own way. Even back since “the first EP” in 92’, they’ve pushed the envelope with their all nude music video and unheard of amount of aggression. In 94’ Undertow
made its way into the music scene. It revolutionized the way music videos were looked at due to the strict amount claymation and dark images used. It managed to stretch the band’s potential even farther then before, and their ideas even deeper into the abyss. Then Ænima
is the band’s first “full” album, and boy is it a ride. From beginning to end there are no real filler songs. That’s not to say there aren’t filler tracks, but in terms of the actual songs, you won’t be disappointed. Most of you probably know the ability of these guys. They’re all way of ahead of their time (yes, even Adam Jones), and this is the first album that truly showcases their skill. Whether it’s the electronic polyrhythmic percussion on Eulogy
, the speed picking on H.
, or the heavenly vocals on Pu***
, these guys know how to get it done musically. What amazes me is the balance of the band. No one member ever seems to be pushing the other aside. Yeah we hear a drum solo on Forty Six and Two
. Yes at times it seems like Maynard sings too well to be in a metal band. But it works. Somehow they make it work. And trust me, that’s not always the easiest task with such talent. Just ask Dream Theater. Everyone always seems to be on the same page as well. And it’s not just the music, it’s the mood. Every song creates the perfect atmosphere to fit the song. Jimmy
contains some haunting vocals that actually make the song feel like one big flashback. The album track Ænima
creates this strange and dark apocalyptic feel to the song. And wouldn’t you know it the song is about the end of the world. Well that and a lot more. And then there’s Third Eye
. It just feels like one big trip down LSD lane. (Without the side effects of course.) The mood is varied throughout the album. Sometimes it will take the shape of an enigmatic whisper like in H.
Other times its harsh and aggressive sarcasm like in Ænima
. It’s always enjoyable to listen to though.
So I know what your thinking if you’ve never seen this album before. “Hooker with a Penis
?! What kind of sick thoughts go through this band’s head?” Well maybe not, but I know that that particular track can catch many people’s eyes. Fortunately they’re not that sick. Like most good bands, Tool likes to speak through metaphors (sometimes R rated). In fact they use them a lot. In this particular song it’s basically talking of society’s capitalistic system (the hooker) which has the power (or penis) to screw people over by selling out. I guess apparently Maynard was accused by a fan for selling out after the release of Undertow
. On a side note this is partly why Maynard used his costumes. He feels that people shouldn’t judge him off one particular album or song so he doesn’t give them the “face” to associate him with. But not all Tool’s lyrics are as easy to comprehend. In fact many still confuse me. But that’s alright because you don’t have to understand word for word what the band is saying. It’s what YOU personally get out of the music. This also means you don’t have to agree with everything the band says. In fact I’ve had trouble listening to this album at times. As a Christian, it has been hard to listen to many of the songs. Tool has long been against most organized religion and they display that in most songs. Eulogy
for example contains the lyrics “Come down, Get off your ***ing cross, we need the ***ing space to nail the next fool martyr.
" Now I don’t have to accept that literally, but I think it’s good to get a different perspective on a matter and stay open minded. Well I hope this wasn’t too philosophical for everyone, but I felt it was necessary to explain my position on the issue because I know that Tool’s disturbing lyrics and persona turn many people away. And I hope this isn’t the case! The album has an uncanny ability to strike something deep inside you without totally brainwashing you. But I should warn you that the lyrics and music is very dark on this album as with most of Tool’s music. I don’t have time to go in depth with the entire album’s symbolism. You will have to do that yourself. But overall the album’s lyrics are brilliant throughout. It really enhances the music and urges you to listen to it again. The lyrics are very clever at times. Here is an example from the album track of some of the amusing cleverness. “Some say a comet will fall from the sky, followed by meteor showers and tidal waves, followed by fault lines that cannot sit still, followed by millions of dumbfounded dip****s.
Of course you have to hear it to get the whole experience.
So try as I might, it’s hard to find anything I don’t like in this album. I guess the filler tracks take away from the album a bit. But it’s filler. It’s not like the music is flawed. Tool should just wise up and use the ten minutes of filler to make another song (which they didn’t do on 10,000 days
.) The strength of the songs far outweighs the useless filler. If I had to find something wrong with the album, I would say that the interlude in Pu***
is just a little long, even by Tool standards. Honestly this album has had more impact on me than any other piece of music I have ever listened to. It’s been used for inspiration and ideas, as well as something to fall back on under stress. For most people though it’s just heavy music with a brain. But remember this is Tool. It is not easily digestible. It will take a quite a few listens to sink in. Give it time though. You will be rewarded with one of the most powerful albums you have ever heard.