Review Summary: Let go.
In many conversations that involve Tool, pretension always seems to be brought up one way or another. Sometimes this accusation is true due to the fact that they end three of their albums with static and other types of noise or that they take over five years to come out with a new album. Unfortunately, the people that get wrapped up in the pretense aspect often overlook the sheer amount of talent that this band possesses. From Maynard's powerful vocals to the band's unique sound that bands often appear to duplicate, this is one of the most influential modern progressive metal bands for a reason and Lateralus
shows it the most. So what makes this record standout over everything else in their discography? Maturity.
The amount of maturity seen on Lateralus
one almost never sees in a third studio album. Five years back the band released Aenima
which was raw and centered on anger and frustration. It's safe to say Maynard wasn't a very happy man at the time. This time around almost all of the lyrical content is focused on zen, letting go, and moving on. With the exception of "Ticks and Leeches" which is actually quite humorous, everything song is staggeringly mature. Songs like "The Grudge" and 'Schism' really convey a powerful sense of determination to move past an overall falling out with someone or something for that matter. Maynard delivers every note and every scream with overwhelming amounts of passion and sometimes beauty that never cease to amaze and impress. The listener can really feel the sincerity in Maynard's voice in "Parabola" as he delivers "Celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing." Not only is there sincerity in Maynard's voice, there is also hard hitting intensity. He gives a fittingly intense screamed performance in "Ticks and Leeches" about people expecting too much of him. Granted his lyrics are not the best in this song, everything around the board still delivers. It is also worth mentioning that he gives an aggressive thirty second scream that is sure to stun in "The Grudge."
However, right from the start, the most striking part of Lateralus
is in its musicianship. Justin Chancellor and Adam Jones work hand in hand like yin and yang on bass guitar and electric guitar. Adam's guitar riffs could be characterized as simple to some, but once the textures of the guitar and bass guitar mash together beautifully that aspect is easily overlooked. Justin is perhaps is one of the two biggest aspects that standout on this album. The bass makes the guitar riffs work and it is one of the key components to the albums overall sound. Justin stands out so much that he can be even be confused with Adam at some points in the album and a firm example of this would be the introduction to "Schism." His performance is amazing and there is not a single full length piece of music on Lateralus
where Justin doesn't standout as much as Adam.
The other key component to pulling off the album's overall sound is the behemoth known as Danny Carey. The polyrhythms that this man pulls off on Lateralus
are nothing short of astounding and it really shows how he is one of the greatest drummers of our time. He has so much finesse and stamina that he is sometimes incomprehensible like in "Ticks and Leeches" and "The Grudge." He delivers an incredibly compelling and eventful rhythm throughout the song, but once every texture explodes in the final minutes he unleashes a rhythm that even the most skillful drummers have trouble keeping up with. As for "Ticks and Leeches?" Trust me, his performance is best heard for yourself. Not only does have deliver in intensity, he really adds to many of the atmospheric elements of this record. Especially in what is one of the greatest three song streaks in the history of modern progressive music.
"Disposition" starts out this over twenty minutes song very beautifully with gentle riffs, Carey's tribal drum beats, and Maynard softly whispering to us "Watch the weather change." It is a soothing calm before the storm because after all of this heavy music, we need a little break to soak it all in and simply sit back and relax. However, the soothing nature of the song ends when "Reflection" begins. "Reflection" is essentially repetition done in the best way possible. The song keeps building upon the same bass riff over Danny's atmospheric drumming and Maynard's passionate performance about zen. It is a stunning masterpiece that is the cornerstone of this album. Aside from the disappointing extra two minutes of silence in "Triad" and two minutes of static that close Lateralus
, the album truly ends with a disturbing instrumental full of riffs that characterize rage, brooding drumming and chilling sound effects. It's safe to say that "Triad" should have been the closing track and not "Faaip de Oiad."
For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of hearing this yet, you are missing out. Lateralus
changed my musical taste for the better and it is one of the most eventual progressive metal albums out there. Like I said before, the band as a whole can get a tad pretentious at times. However, should be overshadowed by simply how much the band brings to the table on this album alone. Just throw this on and let go because this is a prime example of catharsis in music.