Tool
Lateralus


5.0
classic

Review

by Eternalnow USER (7 Reviews)
August 27th, 2009 | 23 replies | 6,054 views


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: ‘Lateralus’, the third LP from American rock band Tool is a great rock album; rather, it’s their magnum opus, a masterwork that stands as one of the greatest rock albums ever made.

3 of 4 thought this review was well written

Tool is:

• Maynard James Keenan - vocals
• Adam Jones - guitar, art direction
• Justin Chancellor - bass
• Danny Carey - drums

It seems that every great rock album deconstructs our conceptions about rock music; tearing apart the assumptions and cozy familiars like so much wet paper and piecing it back together in ways never seen before. It almost feels like a requirement. ‘Lateralus’, the third LP from American rock band Tool is a great rock album; rather, it’s their magnum opus, a masterwork that stands as one of the greatest rock albums ever made. Like all masterworks it has its detractors; tongue lashing critics who bite with words, and ignorant pop rock lame brains who can’t sit through any song lasting over 5 minutes. But how can you blame them? Clocking in at almost 79 minutes, chock full of esoteric concepts, self-help adages and unconventional song structures it is no wonder the layman (or woman) will merely shrug their shoulders and move on to a much shorter, more basic album (Sum 41 anyone?). ‘Lateralus’ is immense, epic, lengthy, deeply emotional, cryptic, complex, and full of so much esoteric mumbo jumbo that it deserves all the hate thrown at it; it also happens to be my favorite album.

I’ll be honest; Tool really went overboard with this one. It’s a record that will only be fully embraced by hardcore fans, while the casuals or the occasional listener who dug ‘3 Libras’ on the radio will be turned off, lost in a whirlwind of “huh?” while they try to piece together what mathematical concepts and alchemy have to do with rock music. That is the beauty of it all; it’s so over the top and preachy that it works. ‘Lateralus’ is one of the greatest rock albums ever crafted; it’s the second coming of Christ, only better and 1000 times more interesting.

From the mechanical whir that signals the beginning of ‘The Grudge’ its quite evident that this is no mere retread of ‘Aenima’, and once the tribal rhythms and trance-like guitar riffs invade your ears you’ll realize that musically, this is another plane all together. The bass and drums are mixed way into the front, allowing the hypnotic rhythm section full command of the audio spectrum; a technique largely unconventional in rock music, but for Tool it works all too well. The guitar takes somewhat of a back seat, but when it explodes its pummeling; not in its technicality or its brutality but in its sheer epic emotional presence. Then there are the vocals, buried deep into the mix but ever present and powerful; just another instrument amongst the others, playing its role. Complex time signatures, mutating passages and true progressive song structures are met with impeccable song writing, an avant-garde attitude and a hint of pop sensibility, wrapped up in a warm blanket of slick production.

While ‘Lateralus’ is no concept album by any means, there is certainly a unifying theme present through each track. From the art of letting go (The Grudge), the path of healing (The Patient), the death of the ego (Reflection), living in the now (Parabol, Parabola), the desire to dive headfirst into the unknown (Lateralus) to the act of recapitulating a broken relationship (Schism), there seems to be an underlying connection of a very personal journey toward enlightenment.

Tool is at the top of their form here; Danny Carey’s octopus-like drumming is intense, massive and literally all over the place in ways most drummers wish they could be. His primal, tribal drumming is the stuff of legend, and including it in a rock album is pure genius. Adam Jones’ creative, mutating and emotional guitar work is drenched in pedal effects and expertly played, changing from silently contemplative to head nodding groovy with a professionals precision. The complex and commanding bass lines of Justin Chancellor act as lead more than they do support, and their technical work is astounding. Maynard, with his cryptic lyrics and esoteric concepts can croon, scream, shout and sing with the best of them; his voice that of an angel, a devil, a demon and a stripped down human. Of course it would all be for naught if the production wasn’t up to snuff, but thankfully mastermind David Bottrill served as producer, engineer and mixer, and the album is all the better for it. Each instrument is clearly audible, each sound effect, ambient noise, snare hit, tom fill, high hat pattern, each vocal styling can be heard with an awesome clarity.

Listening to this album is no small feat by any means. From the 8 minute opus of ‘The Grudge’ to the 11 minute journey of the title track, to the album ending trilogy of ‘Disposition’, ‘Reflection’ and ‘Triad’, a whole sit through is a very emotional and long experience; a slow burner of an album that will take many listens before it finally reveals itself to you. Like any rock masterpiece worth its salt ‘Lateralus’ dismantles our view of the world of rock and builds up a new outlook; one that fuses primal rhythms with American aesthetics, new age concepts with pop sensibilities. In a barrage of complex time signatures galore, worldly instruments, effects drenched guitars and the hallucinogenic imagery of spiritual artist Alex Gray, Tool have given us one heck of an album; one that takes time to digest.

Regardless of whether or not you find 'Lateralus' interesting, it will most certainly go down in history as an important piece of art, a landmark achievement for a band way ahead of its class; sadly a feat that this band will most likely never achieve again.

Highly recommended



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user ratings (4934)
Chart.
4.5
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Zip
August 27th 2009



5312 Comments


Didn't need another 5 review...

Boognish
August 27th 2009



1003 Comments


Newsflash: there are better bands than Tool. And including 'tribal drumming' on a rock album doesn't make them genius. I'm not criticizing your writing but really what's the point of another Tool fanboy reviewing this band.

HenchmanOfSanta
August 27th 2009



1852 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Or another review at all really. Still pos-worthy though.

Also, how is there a 0.5 rating of this album without a review? I thought that was the only way to rate something that low.

Zip
August 27th 2009



5312 Comments


This has no 1.5 votes. I'm tempted to rate just to fill in the gap.

Titan50
August 27th 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it's hyperboleking, he doesn't count

LepreCon
August 27th 2009



3591 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not 5 worthy but not a bad review

shindip
August 27th 2009



3536 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

good review, albeit uneccesary

Ibanezium
August 27th 2009



36 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

An amazing album, but a horrible review imo. Instead of feeling "enlightened" and part of some musical elite, just accept that people have different taste. Just because you enjoy polyrhytmic music, it doesn't make other listeners "casual".

Sometimes it's just embarrassing to be a Toolfan.

renegadestrings
August 27th 2009



1435 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"it’s the second coming of Christ, only better and 1000 times more interesting. "
i thought that was pretty funny, and yeah even though this album is a little overrated, i'll never forget when it REALLY clicked with me. its music like this that makes me wish i experimented with hallucinogens. good review

fromtheinside
August 27th 2009



17714 Comments


good review, albeit uneccesary

oh no you changed your pic already... after i was finally feeling like i understood it. lul

Digging: Fallujah - The Flesh Prevails

Zip
August 27th 2009



5312 Comments


The site is actually blocking me from rating a 1.5! I just want to be the only one to have done it...

yas666eer
August 27th 2009



270 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

decent review. everyone should add there opinion if they feel like, so i do not understand why all the complaining is about.

KILL
August 27th 2009



70573 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5


Didn't need another 5 review...

kinda did

Digging: Gal Costa - Gal Costa

illmitch
August 27th 2009



5429 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Instead of feeling "enlightened" and part of some musical elite, just accept that people have different taste. Just because you enjoy polyrhytmic music, it doesn't make other listeners "casual".


you just might go down as one of the coolest tool fans i've ever seen online

magicjack
August 27th 2009



4 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is almost better than aenima...almost.

Eternalnow
August 28th 2009



13 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"An amazing album, but a horrible review imo. Instead of feeling "enlightened" and part of some musical elite, just accept that people have different taste. Just because you enjoy polyrhytmic music, it doesn't make other listeners "casual".

Sometimes it's just embarrassing to be a Toolfan. "

LOL

Get offended much? I'm no Tool fan, son.

Lunarfall
August 28th 2009



3179 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Sometimes it's just embarrassing to be a Toolfan.
you really should be for liking such a mediocre album

pretty decent review otherwise, its definitely gonna be overshadowed by other 5 star reviews though.

Piglet
August 28th 2009



4651 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

agree with review 100%

taylormemer
August 28th 2009



4913 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Yeah, but it's really contrived.

soundless
August 28th 2009



171 Comments


i thought maynard played the art direction?



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