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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Replay Club newsletter (via Sam Goody)

Date: July, 2001

Transcribed by
Amber (Toolbox13@mediaone.net)


  page: 35
 title: ROCK REVIEWS: Tool-Lateralus (Editor's Pick)
author: Don Kaye
Tool
Lateralus    |Editor's Pick|
(Volcano Records)
In the world of heavy rock, Tool has ascended to the realm of the mythical.  Following the release of Aenima 
five long years ago, the band vanished completely for large chunks of time as its members struggled to free 
themselves from their label (they ended up re-signing anyway).  Even before the hiatus, however, Tool wasn't 
exactly plastered all over television and magazine stands.  Shying away from media oversaturation, the band 
concentrated on delivering top-notch albums and live performances to its fans, an approach that only has 
served to increase Tool's mystique and enhance the fanatical respect and adoration of its followers.

     Given this history, it seems inevitable that an album as eagerly anticipated as Lateralus, Tool's third 
full-length effort, might suffer under the weight of immense speculation and anticipatory hype.  But happily, it 
lives up to the expectations while continuing the band's tradition of confounding them.  Though clearly the work 
of older, wiser, more reflective musicians, Lateralus bears the trademarks that have made Tool one of the most 
popular heavy-rock acts of the last 10 years: singer Maynard James Keenan's rich, almost crooning vocals; 
brutal slabs of guitar; precise grooves that give way to unpredictable tempo changes; and an aura of brooding 
mystery and unease.  But it doesn't just retread old ground.  Added layers of subtlety, texture, and meaning - 
plus influences ranging from Eastern to aboriginal - move the group's sound forward into complex new territory.  

     Catapulting the listener from introspection to confrontation, opening number "The Grudge" winds its way 
through peaks and valleys of emotion and energy.  Many of the new songs follow a similar pattern of lulling the 
listener with initially hypnotic arrangements that burst into jarring explosions of rage.  The tension peaks at 
dead center of the album with the fastest, heaviest tracks, "Parabola" and "Ticks and Leeches."  These songs 
come closest to the raw aggression of the band's earlier material, but even they have quieter moments that set 
the tone for a moodier second act.

     At just longer than 79 minutes, Lateralus is epic in scope and, at times, a little self-indulgent and 
self-consciously arty.  But it's also a demanding, dense, and unified work that sounds like nothing else on 
today's heavy-rock scene.  In other words, this is not a "record," but an "album" - an idea that itself seems 
increasingly mythical.  88

[*Note: The 88 at the end signifies a score from 1-100, 88 meaning "highly recommended, or a groundbreaking 
work" as it is in the range of 81-90.*]

Posted to t.d.n: 06/08/01 14:55:02