The first of Tool's two classic albums, Aenima came charging into the music scene in 1996 devoid of almost any publicity. The hermit-like members of Tool and the long songs discouraged publicity and radio play. Yet somehow, this album exploded like few others, earning a Grammy. It certainly deserved it. Not many other albums can touch this. While some bands may be more talented, the mood and the instrumental blend of Tool is something no one else can duplicate. While the drummer Danny Carrey and the bassist Justin Chancellor have a considerable amount of skill, the same can't be said for Adam Jones, the lead guitarist. Normally the lead guitar is the most important position in a band, but Tool makes it work. This album featured some hard rock, but it did not rely on heaviness and shock tactics like many other bands of the time. Tool did what they wanted here, not catering to anybody. And they created one of the best albums of all time. Here is a song-by-song review. I am not going to rate the six fillers.
. Ah, the album opener. Pretty straightforward melodic hard rock. Not a furious pace, with a slow, wandering beat. The verses are very quiet, but the chorus picks up the intensity. This song is either about two things: two lovers reconciling, or fistf*cking. I prefer to think the first one myself. The vocals sound strange during the verses, but the chorus really shines through. The long bridge begins at about 2:28. For a while there, Adam quiets down and lets Justin do his stuff, very cool. This bridge is pretty good, not the best Tool can do though. The intensity goes through many changes throughout the bridge, which finally ends at 3:51. There is a heavier but still melodic verse here, which is good. The song gets heavier for the chorus, then progresses toward the ending. Throughout the song, there is some spectacular drumming by Danny, especially during the chorus. Although, unlike some of the other songs on here, this song isn't very experimental. Although very good, it's just melodic hard rock. I guess Tool needed some songs on here that would appeal to the listener on first listen, so they didn't throw this disc out immediately. This song does not grow on you like many of the other songs on here. Very good song... just not the best Tool can do. Kind of like Vicarious on 10,000 days.
. Certainly one of the better tracks on the album, if not the very best. Just a note: the bass on this song is just mind-blowing. There is a two minute long percussion intro, before the first tentative riff comes in. Kind of like Stinkfist times 10, with the same basic chorus and verse structure. There is a very sweet short guitar breakdown at about 4:43 that I just love. This song's bridge begins at the 5:11 mark, or thereabouts. Nice percussion in this area. It is pretty short, only about half a minute long. Of course there are the two famous parts, the first of which begins at about 6:11, where Maynard frantically screams "Don't you step out of line! Don't you f**king lie!" with very loud instrumentals (for Tool, at least). There is a very good intertwined guitar and bass riff after the vocals stop. There is another guitar solo around the seven minute mark. The song then progresses toward the finish. There is another part similar to the one at 6:11, with entirely different lyrics though. Overall, this song has everything. Bass, drumming, solos, loud and soft vocals. I kind of relate this song to Third Eye, just not quite as epic. That's not to say it isn't great though. Incredible.
. Very mysterious, distorted and experimental. The song opens with a slow, distorted riff, with some bass slamming intertwined. Very slow, but like many slow Tool songs, isn't too interesting. Very quiet verses, slow riffs. What saves this song is the chorus. Very good chorus, but there are only two in the song. Some sort of mini choruses in the verses, the same lyrics and beat are repeated many times. The chorus features a powerful, guitar, and loud vocals. It is really incredible, probably beating out Eulogy’s and Stinkfist's choruses. The bridge begins at 3:23, and is not a spectacular one. There are some whispered vocals in the background, but a slow bass riff is the main feature. It seems like throughout the bridge, Maynard is building himself up, saying things like "my fear begins to fade". A very cool heavy part at about 4:45, featuring the only true guitar solo of the song. A brief drum hammering, and then another chorus comes in, but more powerful, it slows down at the end and the song fades out. Very experimental, and not a great song. Not terrible, just not great. But it does have the mystique and formidableness that Stinkfist lacks, so it probably edges out that song. Just... in an album packed full of epics, this song falls a bit short of the par.
Forty Six & 2: 10/10
. The fan choice from the album probably, and it's easy to see why. Not too long (by Tool standards) it is just the perfect Tool song for when you don't really want to concentrate on the music, you just want to enjoy it. Starts out with a steady bass riff that maintains throughout the song as the centerpiece. The chorus is very good, very loud with a nice bass and guitar harmony. The choruses maintain that driving beat, with lyrics that seem to focus on evolution, but beyond that the meaning of the individual lyrics escapes me. Tool seems to realize that they have something really great with this chorus, and repeat it many times. Very good section at about 3:54, with a heavy guitar and shouted vocals. A little bit of a bridge at about 4:05, which as usual Tool uses this to showcase Danny. Even some shredding from Adam here! I love to hear that. The bridge goes into one last epic chorus at about 5:05. Nice instrumental outro here, very powerful. For about the last fifteen seconds, a repeated chord is just hammered out, it provides a nice outro for this song. Overall, this song is a Tool masterpiece. One of their very best, they perfected the hard-rock formula right here.
Hooker With a Penis: 7/10
. Opens with some bass, before the main riff kicks in. Just before we start: this song is not actually about a transsexual prostitute. It is about the "man" assuming that Maynard is just something weak that can be pushed around, or a "woman". But to the "man's" surprise, Maynard is a man and won't be pushed around like a hooker. This song is very hard rock like, with powerful riffs, and gruff yelling from Maynard. Lot's of cussing in this song, not something we generally hear from tool. Very cool instrumental section that starts at about 2:25, with the typical powerful bass and excellent drumming. A lot of serious hate directed at authority figures here, lots of screaming. Overall, a rather generic song. Dare I say the worst on the album? I enjoy listening to this song, but it doesn't have the same depth and complexity of the other songs here. The guitar is pretty good, and the bass and the drums are as always. So why a 7? Not an epic Tool masterpiece, something this album is full of. I am rating the songs on here in comparison to the other songs on here, and against such stiff competition, there is no way Hooker With a Penis can stand up to them.
. This song starts with a guitar riff similar to the one of the interlude right before it. Pretty quiet verses here, another Tool trait. The verses blend in coolly with the chorus, almost seamlessly. Not too much of a volume change, although the choruses are a bit louder. Not the same driving instrumentals here though, something that makes this song similar to H. This picks up in volume around 2:25, but still not very loud. The bridge begins shortly after, and gets progressively louder. Some whispered vocals in the middle, before the instrumentals begin again. Now the song really gets going with a new, driving beat and screamed vocals. A final chorus with a scream by Maynard and the familiar guitar riff beginning again. The song then gradually fades out. Although not very long, this song has the feel of an epic. That gradual increase in volume, and the introduction of a new beat in the middle of the song. I kind of see this as a toned-down version of the next song, Pu***. Don't worry. It'll be perfect scores from here on out.
. Another fan favorite, this song is the second longest, clocking in at an impressive 9:55. A slow guitar riff starts off the song, similar to Jimmy. Some vocals sung in the background. The bass and guitar come in at about 0:49 dramatically. The song resumes its laid back pace, which will get progressively louder as the song goes on. The chorus is a perfect fit for the song. "Pushing it, shoving me" repeated as the instrumentals grow gradually louder. More quiet verse/loud chorus action for quite some time. Sort of a bridge at about the 3 minute mark, it certainly isn't a verse or a chorus. Here is where the song begins to pick up intensity and change in structure. The song really starts to get intense at about 3:53. But they slow down, and the song becomes almost inaudible for quite some time. The song will pick up again, and progress toward the epic final minute. The final minute is very heavy, and Maynard drops the vocal of slitting someone's throat to love her. Very creepy. While this song may not have the instrumentals of Eulogy or Forty six & 2, it is at least as good. One of the best on this album (it's so hard to choose!). Some very good guitar solos are thrown into the latter part of the song, erasing any signs of monotony that this song may have been showing. A classic Tool epic.
. Ahh.... the title track. A hard rock song, no doubt. The opening guitar riff leaves no question about that. The drumming on this song is just incredible! Again, the quiet verse/loud chorus structure. The chorus on this song has a cool start/stop structure that is a great change of pace. This song rails against the frivolous worries and struggles against today's lifestyle, hoping for Armageddon to come and end it all. If you look behind the CD on this album, it has a holographic showing like the cover. If you tilt it, you can see California disappearing, which may have something to do with the "Learn to swim!" chant of this song. Not too long for Tool standards, this and Forty Six & 2 are your perfect hard-rock songs on this album. A great and long solo at about the 3:45 mark, and then the powerful bass of the "learn to swim!" part. Maynard begins to "F**k ...." add a word there. Actresses, your memory, anything he can think of. A perfect heavy guitar breakdown at 5:37, and this song progresses at a furious pace toward the finish. This song ends with Maynard grunt/yelling over a repeated guitar riff. Wow. And then it's over. One of the best on the album (again) and it might be the best. Hard rock, but still experimental and progressive. Awesome.
Third Eye: 10/10
. Love it or hate it. No in between. The longest Tool track ever short of Disgustipated, it clocks in at a startling 13:47. But while many tracks of this length just waste time, this song never seems to. It progresses at a logical and ever-strengthening pace. There are so many melodies and beats in this song, it is near impossible to describe them all. Now, I'm pretty sure that the "Third Eye" is the eye that drugs open, if the lyrics are any indication. Very long intro with different newscasters and comedians commenting on drugs. The first lyrics of this song come in at a time that most hard-rock band's songs are on their outro. The highlights are the two "prying open my third eye!" parts, hands down. The loudest screams yet on the album, and the loudest instrumentals. There are also loud, unintelligible screams sprinkled throughout the song. So many crescendos and decrescendos it's impossible to describe them all. The most epic Tool song ever, and probably the best way to close an album I can think of.
So there you have it. Aenima. No doubt a masterpiece. It's pretty clear I love this album, like most people do. Still one of my favorites today. It is going to be really hard to pick the three best, but here it goes.
Top three songs:
3. Third Eye
Forty Six & 2 and Pu*** should probably get a spot on there too, but I love those three songs too much. The worst three isn't as hard, though
1. Hooker With a Penis
No doubt in my mind, a classic.