Tool
Undertow


4.5
superb

Review

by Nick Mongiardo CONTRIBUTOR (105 Reviews)
December 27th, 2014 | 61 replies


Release Date: 1993 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Showcasing their charismatic musicianship in a rawer, more accessible light, Undertow highlights some of Tool's best work.

It’s safe to say that Tool has become a bit of a household name when it comes to progressive metal. Much like Pink Floyd for progressive rock and Godspeed You! Black Emperor for post rock, Tool’s towering influence over progressive metal and alternative metal certainly proves to be undeniably justified due to their incredible musicianship and overall unique sound. However, every band like this has to start somewhere and Undertow happens to be where this behemoth of a band jump started their career. They grew to adapt a technically complex and philosophical style over time. However, they kicked things off with an incredibly raw sound that leans more towards an alternative metal direction with their major debut. Though certainly more immature than their succeeding albums, everything about it just works. Whether it be Maynard’s underdeveloped yet passionate delivery, Danny Carey’s impressive drumming performance or the charismatic chemistry between the guitar and bass, Undertow serves as the poster child for albums to listen to when you've been stabbed in the back with its angry and frustrated mood.

Take “Sober” for example with its overly self-loathing lyrics, intense atmosphere and Carey’s In the Court of the Crimson King esque sound. Showcasing some of Tool’s best work here, this song shows how well Tool can deliver a truly angry performance while still having substance at the same time. It’s the style they’ll soon go on to perfect on their seminal sophomore album Aenima. It should also be mentioned how Justin Chancellor didn't participate until their second record too and Paul D'Amour’s similar approach to the bass as a regular guitar paved the way for Justin Chancellor and it shows on this track. “Crawl Away” showcases similar tendencies, but in a more direct manner with Maynard exclaiming “If I could I’d stick that knife in” at the end of the chorus. Carey also gives the listener a taste of his towering influence to come with a mind blowing drum roll near the end of the song highlighting a thoroughly impressive performance.

Spectacular musicianship aside, the heart and soul of this album lays in its riffs and Maynard’s passionate delivery. Adam Jones truly shines throughout the entirety of Undertow and “Prison Sex” is a shining example of his talent. With the help of everyone else giving it their all, Jones drives the song with his groovy and memorable guitar work. In addition to his exemplary work here, Maynard belts out every lyric with an in your face kind of style that proves to be nothing short of underdeveloped. He was younger here with lyrics that doesn't exactly strive to be philosophical or spiritual like their latter albums, but they somehow manage to get the job done. “Swamp Song” serves as the prime example for these qualities with it boasting a fantastic performance from him. His delivery isn't technically as great as his latter performances on Lateralus, but his notably rawer work here pays off so well with the mood of the album and it shouldn't be any other way.

Though notably more direct in style as a whole with its more alternative metal leanings, Undertow easily highlights some of Tool’s best work here. It even gives the listener a taste of what’s to come with the immense progressive metal vibe of “Flood.” Tool shows off their incredibly charismatic musicianship here in a bit of a raw, more accessible light and this album happened to pave the way for the well-deserved success that is inevitably to come. Angry and frustrated from top to bottom, Undertow certainly shouldn't be passed up in their discography. The entire vibe and atmosphere on the album will rock the listener’s world and could definitely be called some of Tool’s best work.



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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 27th 2014


13358 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Closing out the year with a Tool review sweet. Since it's a bit slow now why not?? This album fucking slays.



As usual any critiques are welcome guys.

RoundOnEndHiInMiddle
December 27th 2014


547 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The summary says "Tool'a", should be "Tool's"

Digging: Bob Marley and The Wailers - Natty Dread

FlyheadMetal
December 27th 2014


745 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I haven't read the review yet but TOOOOL!

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 27th 2014


13358 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Ahh shit sorry corrected. This one is pretty underrated imo

RoundOnEndHiInMiddle
December 27th 2014


547 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review though, dude. Have a mindpos

NeroCorleone80
December 27th 2014


31209 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. Easily worst Tool for me but still a great album.

TheSonomaDude
December 27th 2014


1515 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Wait, you're the guy who wrote that excellent Lateralus review! I must read this.

Digging: maudlin of the Well - Bath

TheSpaceMan
December 27th 2014


3233 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

sweet more tool



"In addition to his exemplary work here, Maynard belts out every lyric with an in your face kind of style that proves to be nothing short of underdeveloped. "



were you trying to say his singing is underdeveloped here? cause like I'd probably agree with that but this sentence and the one after it read like you wanted to say he WAS developed

TheSpaceMan
December 27th 2014


3233 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and why the fuck do i have this as a 3 lol

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 27th 2014


13358 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yea I meant here haha and yea bump that rating bro ;)



Thanks guys. Worst Tool is easily 10,000 Days for me though.

cryptside
Contributing Reviewer
December 27th 2014


2304 Comments


"They grow to adapt to a technical, complex and philosophical style overtime, but with their first major
debut, they kicked things off with an incredibly raw sound that leans more toward the alternative metal
direction."

*grew, take out the 'to', and I would probably set this up as two sentences, like this:
They grew to adapt a technically complex and philosophical style over time. However, they kicked things
off with an incredibly raw sound that leans more towards an alternative metal direction with their major
debut.
*I would also take 'first' out, as the word debut takes care of it.

Nice review as always, my friend! Still need to check this one.

Digging: Blood Gemini - Snow Season

FlyheadMetal
December 27th 2014


745 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This album is good but I find it to be boring, especially in comparison to AEnima and Lateralus. Sober is one of their best though.

Artuma
December 27th 2014


18257 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

haven't listened to this since 2011 or so. rev looks good

Digging: Coil - The Ape of Naples

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 27th 2014


13358 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@TLS thanks dude that works so much better haha

cryptside
Contributing Reviewer
December 27th 2014


2304 Comments


No worries man, review was great. Is this a good place to start with these guys?

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 27th 2014


13358 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I wouldn't say a bad place if you've never heard them but if you wanna see them evolve then yea great place to start!

TalonsOfFire
December 27th 2014


12082 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Look who's taking over the flagged prog reviews, seriously though gj mongi about time this had a contrib/staff review

trackbytrackreviews
December 27th 2014


2191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Flood drags

Ryus
December 27th 2014


7642 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice, second best tool

Digging: Joe Henderson - Inner Urge

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
December 27th 2014


13358 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I think Flood is pretty sweet. The worst on here is the title track for me.



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