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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Entertainment Weekly/www.ew.com

Date: June, 2001

Transcribed by
Chris Flyer (flyer@ncweb.com)


  page: 
 title: Tool "Lateralus" (review)
author: David Browne
Tool work at their own pace. ''Lateralus'' is only their third album 
of new material since 1993, and it reflects only the most modest 
shift in their big, lumbering thud & roll. By now, they have their 
own formula down cold: Start each song with a creepy rumble, whip it 
into a frenetic rage, slow it down for a gentler interlude, then rev 
it back up for the finale. It's the sound of a giant beast slowly 
rousing from a slumber, raising havoc, and then settling back in 
again.

''Lateralus'' reasserts Tool's strengths: the way guitarist Adam 
Jones plays an ever shifting array of wormy riffs and avoids guitar 
solo clichés; the way Maynard James Keenan's voice shifts from full 
throttle bellow to subtler singing, with a brief bit of Middle 
Eastern phrasing along the way; the bludgeoning power that results 
when Jones, drummer Danny Carey, and bassist Justin Chancellor lock 
in together. Then there's the impressive way Keenan stretches out the 
word ''suck'' to 10 full seconds in the bile filled attack ''Ticks & 
Leeches.''

Keenan also supplies ''Lateralus'' with its occasional new, and 
welcome, changes. As always, he's more than happy to pick over every 
mistake he ever made in life and pummel his brain senseless in the 
process. (He's still the overthinking man's headbanger.) He makes 
like he was born to suffer in ''The Patient'' and castigates 
his ''narcissism'' in ''Reflection.'' But in a sign that he too is 
wearying of the Tortured Young Man shtick, Keenan appears to be 
reaching out to other people with something other than a baseball 
bat. It's hard to state that as fact; Keenan's lyrics, as always, 
remain elliptical. But ''Parabol'' and ''Parabola'' seem to be about 
lovemaking (''Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this chance 
to be alive and breathing,'' he sings in the latter). The entire 
lyric of ''Mantra [sic]'' is ''I love you. [sic]'' And the romantic 
turmoil alluded to in ''Schism'' isn't all naysaying: ''Doomed to 
crumble unless we grow, and strengthen our communication,'' he 
consoles, unexpectedly.

For all of Keenan's explorations, though, ''Lateralus'' repeatedly 
takes one step back. It isn't simply that formula is formula. The 
music has a clean, fluid flow but sounds thin blooded and far less 
visceral -- freeze dried -- next to newer, younger Ozzfest regulars, 
like Staind, who have followed in Tool's wake. Also, the band has 
admitted in interviews that the three musicians worked on the tracks 
while Keenan was off touring with side project A Perfect Circle, and 
the effect is noticeable. At times, his generalized musings seem to 
have been grafted onto the slithery melodies at random. As much as 
Keenan wants to break out of his mold, at least to some degree, the 
band keeps pulling him back in. ''Lateralus'' leaves you admiring 
Tool's principles while wishing they'd spent the last half decade 
getting out more.

Posted to t.d.n: 05/22/01 18:20:34