Review Summary: "How can this mean anything to me if I really don't feel a thing at all?"
Static buzzing increasingly gets louder as time goes on. An insane German man starts to recite a recipe for hash cookies. A baby's wail turns into bird chirps that resonate on and on. Is this the soundtrack for armageddon? Or is this the coming of a new age?
The culprits responsible for this oncoming progression were no other than four of metal's up-and-rising superstars, Maynard James Keenan, Danny Carey, Adam Jones and Justin Chancellor, and if there was ever another album that has connected with me as much, it hasn't showed up yet. Aenima
contains such brash, unadulterated energy that just propels it above so many other progressive metal albums. The sheer amount of emotion put into these songs is monumental, and it's an emotion that I haven't found in any other album. The age-old question of which is the better of Tool's classic pair of albums is a pretty easy decision for me to make; Lateralus
may have better production and may be more "progressive", but Aenima
is just so full of unfiltered aggression and passion that Lateralus
can never have.
is more than just a magnificent record; it holds a special place in my heart for being the album that completely did a 360 on my music taste. It helped me get out of my 90s alternative phase and the whole Green Day-Linkin Park-Muse complex, and opened my eyes out to a whole new bunch of groups I had never even heard of before. If I were to rewind the clock two years and tell myself I'd be listening to Dream Theater and Isis, I would go ballistic. Aenima
is just a very personal album for me; I listened the *** out of this during phases of anger, frustration, and even to pump me up. Without this album, I wouldn't be half the person I am today.
Part of what makes the album so great are the excellent riffs provided by Adam Jones and Justin Chancellor. From the soaring guitar work towards the end of "Eulogy" to the megalithic riffs in "Third Eye", Jones and Chancellor never fail to impress. This was Chancellor's first album with the band, and he pulled out some amazing basslines that were a complete step up from Paul d'Amour's. And let's not forget Danny Carey; his drumming on this album is absolutely phenomenal
. On all of the album's tracks, his drum work is prevalent and perfectly complements Maynard's vocals. His best moment on the album is pounding the *** out of the drums during the conclusion of "Third Eye" as Maynard roars his famous cry of "PRYING OPEN MY THIRD EYE!" It's moments like these that show off the talents of Tool's members, letting all of them have their own time in the spotlight.
Of course, many of Tool's best songs are on this album, whether it be the evolution-pondering "Forty Six & 2" or the Bill Hicks tribute "Aenema". The latter is probably Tool's best song; Carey's vicious drumming and Jones' soaring guitar riff perfectly meshes with Maynard's ferocious roars of "Learn to swim", and the bridge where he croons for Mother to "flush it all away" is perfected only through his excellent vocal delivery. Meanwhile, the nearly nine-minute long "Eulogy" is probably one of the most "progressive" songs on the album, and one of the best songs Tool has ever done. It starts out with some soft drumming by Carey before Chancellor kicks in with one of the most addictive riffs he's ever written, and as soon as Maynard comes in with his distorted vocals, the song changes into a vehement anthem for martyrs everywhere. The best moment of the track is towards the end of the song when Maynard cries "You must be crucified for our sins and our lies" while Jones plays his best solo on the album.
And of course, I can't talk about Aenima
without talking about its fillers. Many see them as annoying and a waste of space, but without the fillers, the album would just be prog metal over and over again, with nothing to stop the flow. The fillers let the album cool down before the next song starts. The hilarious voicemail that is "Message to Harry Manback" provides the transition between the philosophical "Forty Six & 2" and the brash and profane "Hooker With a Penis". Even the intermission lets the album switch gears from vile anger to reflecting on past memories, something that would be missed had it not have been there. The more useless ones, "Useful Idiot" and "(-) Ions", are rather bland and meaningless, but their sole purpose is to bridge the gap between two songs, and they get the job done, although rather messily.
is an album for the ages. It was Tool's breakthrough, and propelled them not only to fame, but cemented their status as progressive metal giants. This album not only changed my life, but has also made it's mark in music as one of the best albums of all time. Danny Carey's drum work on this album is monumental, and so is Adam Jones' addictive riffs. With each repeated listen, Aenima
never gets old; rather, it implants a new feeling every time it plays. At times it's dark and blunt, and at other times it opens up my mind to think about the album's lyrical complexity. Time may go on, but Aenima
will always remain a classic to me.