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Lateralus

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★★★★½
(1655 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • My god – after listening to Lateralus about 6 times through, it becomes apparant that you’re not listening to a band – you’re experiencing an epic work of art! From start to finish, the album never lets you go. A recurring theme for Tool has been to think for yourself, question everything. If this masterpiece of an album doesn’t send a wakeup call to the crappy pop ‘artists’ and rap-metal ‘bands’ out there, I don’t know what the heck will! On to a track by track review:1) The Grudge – this track opens up fast and furious, with slower parts as well as fast ones. Adam and Justin’s incredible instrumental work is very notable in this song. Maynard also has a growl that is unlike anything I’ve heard.2) Eon Blue Apocalypse – Relaxing guitars, serves as a good interlude between a fast song like Grudge and a more APC-like movement called…3) The Patient – Sounds like a cross between H and Third Eye (the guitar riffs sound very much like the ones in Third Eye). A very relaxing song which builds and builds to the end which really makes you want to praise Billy Howerdel for starting A Perfect Circle.4) Mantra – lots of chanting. Another interlude between a slow song and a song that’s a little bit quicker. Actually, the chanting sounds like one of my friend’s word-chewed vocal chords, Chad. :) 5) Schism – a single that isn’t 3 minutes long – what a concept! I can’t put this song into words – even one of the less intense songs on Lateralus is better than almost any other piece of crap other bands put out.6) Parabol – good lead-in to Parabola. Slowest song on Lateralus, Maynard’s vocals are so incredible here, makes me want to weep!7) Parabola – fast and furious, kind of like a remix of Parabol. You can’t listen to Parabola without listening to Parabol.8) Ticks & Leeches – The hardest song on the CD, this one goes back to Opiate days. Maynard growling “HOPE THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED” makes you want to raise your fist in the air. Awesome stuff. Nice breakdown in the middle.9) Lateralis – This is the Tool national anthem. “Think for yourself” runs throughout this song. The time meter is very screwed up so you can’t really ‘mosh’ to it, which I find very ironic and fitting. :) Forces you to LISTEN to the music and words.10) Disposition – Intro to quite possibly the most intense… movement (I won’t call it a song, it’s too incredible to be one).. that I’ve ever heard.11) Reflection – Listen to this at 2AM, with the lights off, with headphones on. Is it me, or did Trent’s touring with APC rub off on Tool here. GODLY stuff here, man! Best Tool I’ve ever heard.12) Triad – very hard outro to end the trilogy. No lyrics – just lots of hard percussion and guitars/bass.13) Faaip De Oiad – Gaping Lotus Project/Disgustipated reminscent. Fun for the whole family.This was so easily worth the five year wait – I can’t begin to express how I felt when I purchased this on the 14th (my local record store sells stuff early sometimes, hehe). If you haven’t bought this album yet, there’s something wrong with you. This will go down in history with Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. Get it!@!@!@

    Posted on November 11, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I have been a Tool fan for some time now. The CD that got me into them was, like most other people’s, 1996’s AEnima. And I thought that was a great album. Little did I know. Their most recent album “Lateralus” is a departure from the more traditional metal sound of bands such as Staind, Cold, and Limp Bizkit. The album’s first track, “The Grudge”, sets the tone for this mind-expanding record. About nine minutes long, this song will do nothing less than cause a massive coronary heart attack, epileptic seizures, a few tears, and a big smile. The CD continues with both songs and interludes that add to the flow of the album. Among my favorites are “The Grudge”, “Schism”, “The Patient”, and “Ticks and Leeches”. If you are a musician and understand time signatures, prepare to be amazed. Danney Carey’s drumming will make any prospective or experienced drummer cry. Maynard’s voice is much more powerful this time around, pulling off a straight scream at the top of his lungs for 25 seconds straight in “The Grudge”. Adam Jones’ guitar mastery is both haunting and introspective. As for Justin Chancellor, the bassist, listen to the beginning of “Schism”. ‘Nuff said. In my opinion, this album far exceeds “AEnima” and “Undertow” because it flows much smoother as an album and is much more musical and imaginative. If you are a fan of Tool, then you should already have this. If you are new to the band, then I would suggest “Undertow” or “AEnima” as first albums simply because they are easier to digest. Simply put, this is an incredible album that should be used as an example of what hard rock music should really be: hard-hitting, musical, and emotional. Bow down to the king.

    Posted on November 11, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Thankfully, Tool aren’t one of the bands that you expect to make the same album again and again. Each new release, sparse as they are, moves the sound and approach of the band on in a new direction. And for all of you people worried that Lateralus might just be a re-tread of old territory… It’s not. It’s very hard to give an in-depth review of something that’s only been in your posession for 24 hours, but I feel that I’ve got enough of a grip now to write a bit. The things that immediately hit me: 1) Production. It’s less “mushy” than Aenima. Not suggesting that Aenima was badly produced, the sound worked great for the music. But Lateralus has cleaner sounds, generally. Adam Jones’ guitar is still huge and crunchy, but it doesn’t obscure the rhythm section in the way that it used to. The drum sound is superb, and the variety of lovely bass tones on the album are a nice surprise. I have to admit, “lovely” was never a word I’d previously associated with Tool and bass. 2) Maynard sounds quite a bit different. In the same way that his vocals changed between Undertow and Aenima, they’ve shifted again here. There’s a fair bit of stuff that sounds like A Perfect Circle, but there’s also some viscious distorted screaming that sounds harsher than anything I can recall on Aenima. 3) Rhythm. This album goes through almost every time signature in the book! The album kicks off in 5/8 (or 3/4 subdivided into quintuplets.. you choose!) on The Grudge, and stays similarly obtuse for much of the album. You’ve got to love a band this popular that releases a single with sections in 13/8! 4) Long songs. Sometimes they hold sections for what seems like a very long time, longer than on any of the previous releases. These tracks worked better for me when I was lying in bed in the dark, with the music up floor-shakingly loud. It’s almost like listening to a drum&bass track – you don’t expect fast changes, more a hypnotic wash. 5) Great quiet sections! Eon Blue Apocalypse vaguely reminded me of some of Bill Frisell’s guitar tones on Grand Guignol (the track, not the album) by John Zorn/Naked City, and the other “segue” tracks (like Mantra) are equally pretty. All in all, a lot to get your ears around. Considering the level of anticipation surrounding this album, the fact that it’s not a massive let-down is a vast achievement in itself. And I’m still laughing over the fact that Schism was the #1 new release in terms of radio airplay in the states. Seven minutes long, with some slightly baffling odd time signatures and lyrics that aren’t exactly of the “I did it all for the nookie” variety. I love these guys!

    Posted on November 11, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • We’ve witnessed Tool’s evolution, musically and lyrically. On their first full-length album (Undertow), the band spewed forth a large quantity of cathartic regurgitation, mostly on a “personal” level – telling tales of abuse, religious fraud and personal anguish. The following album (_├ćnima_) would express these same ideas. However, the second time around, the band became more elaborate and “universal” with their aura and message – while expanding the time-lengths in their songs, adding eerie interludes, and making the music more complex. On _Lateralus_, the boys seem less angry this time around, perhaps, arriving at a “spiritual” place the band were probably slowly heading toward to begin with. They still maintain the aggressive intensity found on their previous albums (as well as that distinct hypnotic, mysterious aura they always possessed), but, this time around, there seems to be a feeling of hope and salvation that most Tool fans probably thought could never have been achieved. To say the album is deep, complex and mysterious would be GROSS understatements. Conceptually, the band seems to be exploring Qaballah (or Kaballah, whichever choice of spelling is accurate) transcripts. If you’ve intently explored such areas as Qaballah, astrology, numerology, mythology and other such metaphysical/new age subjects, you may just have yourself an interesting, challenging and/or fun time exploring this album, as it’s soaked in equivocal references to each of these. You can find references to Saturn (god of depression, fears, sorrow, misfortunes, discipline, lessons learned through hard times), Mars (god of violence, strife, conflict, war), Mercury (god of communication, thought, travel), Pluto (god of transformation, regeneration and rebirth) and other mythological figures. There’s not much time or space for me to delve into every single detail, but, hopefully, this will help. Now, I’ll discuss the significance of the song “The Grudge” and it’s connection with the mythological figure, Saturn. There are references to the number “1″ scattered throughout the song. Depending on where you look, number “1″ can be a reference to the Sun (the god of life, power and vitality), or to Saturn. But on here, it’s obvious that the reference is for Saturn. 1 and 10 represent the same figure: 1, 10, 19, 28 all equal “1″ (“10″: 1+0=1. “19″: 1+9=10=1. “28″: 2+8=10=1). In this case, I’m referring to the lyrical references of the song, “The Grudge.” Singer Maynard James Keenan says lines like “Saturn ascends/choose 1 or 10″/Saturn ascends/comes around again.” In the latter line, Maynard may be referring to an astrological term called “Saturn Return.” This is where the planet Saturn takes approximately 29 years to plow through the 12 astrological signs of the zodiacal belt (Note: the planets and astrological signs are supposed to have, more or less, considerable influence on human beings and events on planet earth.) When this happens, everyone supposedly will go through a difficult time in their lives (particularly every 29 years.) And when this happens, we are supposed to learn and grow from this – as Saturn’s influence indicates. And perhaps, this is what Maynard & the rest of Tool have done: Grown, evolved, and learned through the tough times they’ve been through. Now, remember, this is only the significance of one track, as more of these lyrical/metaphysical correlations can be found scattered throughout the disc, but, the theme of evolution is a constant-running theme for the album. Musically speaking – polyrhythms, alternating time signatures, odd chord/note progressions can be found all over the place. The band seems more refined in their execution of the performances – playing with as much intensity as before, but not sounding as muddy or gritty as previous efforts. Maynard’s vocals sound haunting, mysterious and powerful as ever, but, this time (as I’ve said), he sounds like he’s in a state of salvation, as opposed to the agonized vocals found on previous efforts. But, he does let out some powerful screams as well, so watch out! Drummer Danny Carey is playing tasteful, complex rhythms, without sacrificing his more explosive pounding behind the drum kit, and the understated works of Justin Chancellor (bass) and Adam Jones (guitar) contribute to intensify the ever-present dark, hypnotic and mysterious aura of Tool’s music. At 79 minutes, this is a lengthy album, but one that’s so mysterious, entrancing and intriguing, you won’t even notice that the album was long to begin with. If you want to see the more evolved side of Tool, and/or want some challenging music with some seemingly transmorgifying subject matter, pick this up. And remember, to say this album is deep is a GROSS understatement.

    Posted on November 11, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • You do not listen to this album…you surrender yourself to it. The experience of Lateralus penetrates deeper than the brain — it is deeply spiritual and uplifting. Sonically, the dark sound works powerfully with MJ Keenan’s dynamic, unique vocals and lyrical messages. Whether he’s questioning emotional dichotomies (“Schism”) or reflecting on a difficult spiritual sojourn (“The Grudge”), there is a dark, brutal beauty to this music.Few bands have a collegiality that matches that of Tool. With the exception of drummer Danny Carey, this is not a band of virtuoso musicians. What separates them from the rest is their united, progressive artistic vision and originality. Danny Carey’s drumming is octopus-like, modulating every passage with rhythms I can’t begin to understand. Put together with rest of the crew, the opaque instrumentation creates music of endless shades and layers, with time signature changes a supercomputer couldn’t crack. There is magic here. Powerful, crunching riffs are foiled often by placid, narcotic passages, generating an album that only rarely “rocks.” Instead, it’s heavily cerebral, dark, beautiful…and ultimately indefinable. For a band that’s selling millions of albums and getting mainstream recognition, they still carry an uncompromising progressive aesthetic.Ignore those who make the asinine comment that “Tool sold out.” All other factors being equal, this is Tool’s _least_ commercially viable album. Frankly, I think it’s fairly remarkable that they passed off a 7-minute music video (“Schism”) onto MTV. (Credit the amusingly surreal video, I guess.) I guess when a band like this becomes popular, the so-called fans dismiss quality for the sake of remaining “hardcore.” With lots of 8-minute songs, numerous melody shifts, texturally complex movements, world influences, enigmatic lyrics, this is not an album that can be easily digested. Aenima was complex in its own right, but is was nothing like _this_. I’ve had Lateralus for almost a year (at the time of this writing), and it remains as arresting as ever. It’s so deep, I’m not sure I’ll ever see the bottom; it’s so high, I might never reach it. (Yes, I like that book.)And yet in telling you all of this, I’ve told you nothing. I think the best music is the hardest to describe. Lateralus comfortably lands in that category.We often hear, in a denigrating tone, “Yeah, that Lateralus is so self-indulgent.” Quite. Tool made the album they wanted to make, with commercial considerations thrown out the window. Of course it’s self-indulgent — this isn’t commercial pabulum. Clearly, Tool’s objective wasn’t to make _you_ happy, it was to make _themselves_ happy. This is what separates art from products. Tool, strangely, managed to produce high art that remains a viable product. We expect mainstream rock to be dominated by bands like Creed, Nickelback, and Staind…not Tool. None of this matters, though. Whether it sells 10 million copies or 10 thousand, great music is great music. We don’t need Rolling Stone or MTV to tell us that.

    Posted on November 11, 2009 - Permalink - Buy Now