Tool
Undertow


4.0
excellent

Review

by DoctorClaptrap USER (6 Reviews)
January 12th, 2013 | 19 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An album that focuses on atmosphere and subtlety.

Tool
Undertow

Particularly passionate music fans sometimes have tendencies to do their best to categorize bands and albums as thoroughly as they can, organizing everything and everyone into neat little labels and sub genres that they can point to when asked about the style of a band. Some bands however, give people extraordinary trouble in assigning a convenient label. These bands usually spawn heated genre debates in forums and comment sections on YouTube. Tool is definitely one of those bands. I've heard countless different descriptions applied, from alternative metal to progressive rock and even industrial. One thing is certain, they only confuse people more with every release.

These deceptive qualities apply to their debut album, Undertow, a record that took me quite awhile to understand. Hearing for the first time, I simply regarded it as a great rock album and didn't go much deeper than that. Upon further listening, my perception became more muddled. Other textures I hadn't noticed before started to creep into my awareness. This is evident in the opening track, Intolerance. It starts off with some barely audible ambient noise that sounds like a scuba diver running out of air. The song then starts with a syncopated Drop D riff and vocalist Maynard James Keenan's slightly deranged vocals (being sure to point out that we all lie, cheat, and steal). If you're listening to this song for the first song, you'll probably be paying attention to the riffs and vocals, but listen to it again and listen to it closely. Listen to all of the subtle sounds in the background, especially during the breakdown. Being aware of these gives a whole new and extremely dark atmosphere to a previously rather upbeat hard rock song.

Another particularly ingenious moment is in Sober, arguably the most well known song on the album and one of the band's best known pieces overall. Near the end, all of the instruments drop out one by one until it's almost dead silent with the exception of Keenan's whispered vocals, before swelling back into full loudness before you have time to realize it and continuing into the last chorus. It's a great use of dynamic range and it really creeps you out.

It's moments like these that give the album it's unique feel, one of a band that is striving to paint a picture in sound and raise emotions in the listener rather than just moshing the hell out of you for an hour, which is something I really respect. Never fear however, there are still plenty of heavy moments on the album. In fact, the heaviness of Undertow is what separates it from Tool's later releases. The songs are much more riff based and carry a more definite hard rock/heavy metal style, but like I said above, it's not the focus.

This album is definitely not for everyone. Some may find it boring, but if you're willing to listen to it carefully, I think you'll be able to appreciate the extreme care put into how everything plays out.

Recommended Tracks:
Intolerance
Prison Sex
Sober
Bottom
Undertow (title track)



Recent reviews by this author
Mastodon RemissionGhost B.C. Infestissumam
Metallica LoadSlipknot Iowa
Megadeth Killing Is My Business...
user ratings (3103)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
DoctorClaptrap
January 12th 2013


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Okay, I just realized some stupid typos, and the edit review button isn't working on my computer for some reason so sorry about some of the stupid mistakes here and there.

RevenantBlue
January 12th 2013


136 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review for a good album. My advice is simply to be more objective, next time; take yourself out
of the review and focus on the album's qualities rather than your reactions to those qualities. To be
fair, most of the review is like that, but it would read better if it was uniformly impartial.

Again, though; good review. I like "Undertow" less than the two albums that follow, but this is worthy
stuff.

oltnabrick
January 12th 2013


31266 Comments


IM GOING TO NEG U 4 THAT.














jk. ill ignore

Digging: Akys - Sugelti Juodakmiai

conesmoke
January 12th 2013


5274 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Love this album. Danny rules here.

KjSwantko
January 12th 2013


9446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah this album is badass. It has some weak spots but Intolerance and Sober are among the best that Tool has ever done.

Minus.
January 12th 2013


2680 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. pos'd

pissbore
January 12th 2013


9934 Comments


album rules

Chortles
January 12th 2013


18048 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

sweet album cool review pos maybe

Digging: Tortoise - TNT

demigod!
January 12th 2013


44944 Comments


still havent heard this despite owning it for over a year and a half lol

Digging: Polvo - Today's Active Lifestyles

oltnabrick
January 12th 2013


31266 Comments


its ok. if you like Tool youll like it

ChopSuey
January 12th 2013


2392 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Too is Cool......the rest drool.

breakingthefragile
January 12th 2013


2962 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Tool cool 4 school.

YoYoMancuso
January 12th 2013


11187 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sweet review, got this on vinyl. Intolerance has some really cool off-time stuff going on in it, I think the opening riff is a bar of 13/16 and then a bar of 4/4.

pissbore
January 12th 2013


9934 Comments


bottom rules hard

Gwyn.
January 13th 2013


15230 Comments


Pretty good review.

Also OP, Borderlands ftw

ComeBiteTheApple100
January 13th 2013


98 Comments


Such an overrated band... Albums ok, probably 3.5, bottom and prison sex kick major ass

conesmoke
January 16th 2013


5274 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

probs a bit overrated, mainly due to those fanboys who refuse to accept that there is a lot more music out there that is equally awesome if not more so than tool.

conesmoke
January 17th 2013


5274 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

A consequence of accessibility.

Gwyn.
January 17th 2013


15230 Comments


Then that's not really being overrated since only fanboys say stuff like that, and it's a normal thing for them to do so

There are way too goddamn many, though



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy