Publication: The Star Ledger
Date: June, 2001
page: title: Tool wipes the smiles off fans' faces author: Adam Heimlich This is a review of Lateralus from a local paper here in NJ. 06/17/01 "Lateralus" Tool (BMG/Volcano) Three Stars It's easy to laugh at Tool, who play every note as if with teeth clenched and eyes squeezed shut, see themselves as modern-day King Crimson (chosen to open for Tool this August) and have a knack for grandiose songs with zero memorable riffs. Frontman Maynard James Keenan drops hints that he could carry a tune if he felt like it, but doesn't. The band's rhythm section proves it can release heavy-metal power, then makes a point of repressing it for several tracks in a row. Tool loves to posture as if there's something experimental about reviving prog-rock experiments that failed the first time around, when actually it's highly commercial, and sort of funny. Then again, not everybody wants to smile, and Tool has a very special relationship with people for whom moping is a lifestyle choice. During the last five years, Tool's internaional army of angst-ridden fans had a lack of new Tool studio recordings to be morose about, on top of everything else. Long-awaited "Lateralus" is the realization of the long- winded, ponderous metal style the group tried out on 1996's "Aenima." That's cause for celebration -- which for Tool fans means disturbingly long hours in their bedrooms alone with the door locked. Tool differs from King Crimson in its concentration on guitar attack; there's none of the expansiveness of '70s prog's jazzy approach. "Lateralus" maintains its scrunch-faced focus throughout, mapping out a distinct ebb and flow of grouchy energy. The first three songs sound like tense soundtracks to an old Atari driving game, but they're really a procrastinating wind-up to the explosive middle of the album, which culminates in a cathartic tantrum song, "Ticks and Leeches." The album's last 20 minutes finds Tool grinding and scraping to a very gradual halt, finally achieved during the seventh minute of the brutal "Triad." The whole trip is surely no joke to those who relate to Tool's trapped, suffocating atmosphere.
Posted to t.d.n: 06/18/01 10:17:42