Review Summary: Incredibly powerful, better if you listen to "The Holy Gift"
There's been so many reviews on this album, but I'm going to take it in a different direction. I bet nobody will read this review anyway.
This album is absolute gold on it's own the way it was released, but once it's listened to in a different order, it becomes a concept album.
Tool has been known to take long breaks in between albums. In between Aenima and this album it was speculated that the 5 year wait between albums was a result of Maynard's dedication to his side project, A Perfect Circle, with his good friend and excellent guitarist Billy Howerdel. I disagree with this theory. Although Mer de Noms was an incredible album, Danny Carey and Maynard wanted to give the audience something they'll remember for the rest of their lives.
They delivered. Please, look up the theory behind the rearrangement of the tracks before crucifying me. It's all based off of the title track. The rearrangement makes this album even more interesting, and it actually makes it a concept album. I think it can be a bad breakup going down, a friendship, or even a person "spiralling" down into addiction.
The "spiral" concept is very important here... The way this setup is constructed, the person is spiraling in from whatever on the first end of the album. The last track before the outward spiral is lateralus, which encourages the listener to "spiral out". I think this album is honestly about overcoming addiction, since the middle track, which I'd call "the bottom" is the most chaotic track on the album. Then as you spiral outward you get more "hopeful" tracks.
Also, why would tool, in their liner notes and back cover of the album, note that there's a hidden track? (fiaap de oiad)
Here's the track order for the first half:
4.) Ticks & Leeches
5.) Mantra dubbed into Lateralus
6.) Fiaap de Oiad
The second half starts of with the end of the chaotic "Fiaap de Oiad" fitting into the beginning of "The Grudge" perfectly. The Grudge grinds out, and if you listen to the lyrics you realize that it's about someone bettering themselves (look up saturn ascending). The end of the grudge rolls right into triad, and it's a perfect transition. I think this represents the withdrawal someone goes through, either from drugs or a relationship.
From the end of Triad it rolls right into Reflection, which is out of the order for everyone familiar with the album, but it flows very well. In Reflection, it's just as the name suggests, our protagonist is "reflecting" on his past and wants to make himself better. Eon Blue also fits in nicely with the beginning of this track.
Reflection rolls right into The Patient, which tells us the story about the protagonist still struggling, but not as much. "Be patient" I think that's a sign that things will get better. This song to me is about not going insane while you're waiting for things to get better.
Then the blend right into "Disposition" is one of the most fantastic things I've ever heard in music. It's so calm. I picture myself looking onto a lake while listening to this. It's so appropriate that it's the last song. It's basically telling the protagonist that they've come a long way and just "watch the weather change". By the weather I think tool means yourself as a person.
Second half of the album:
1.) The Grudge
3.) Eon Blue/ Reflection
4.) The Patient
Thanks, and if anyone actually listens, enjoy!