the tool page

spark becomes a flame

This site is now an archive; it is no longer being updated. See here and here for details.


select a year

The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: Kerrang!

Date: May, 2001

Transcribed by
Matthew Coleman (

  page: 44
 title: The Future Starts Here
author: Dave Everley

Tool re-write the metal rulebook once again

Lateralus – KKKKK (out of 5)


Produced by: Dave Bottrell (sic)

Recorded at: Cello Studios, Hook Studios and Larrabee South North, 
Los Angeles.

Stand-out tracks:

‘The Grudge’

The most surprising thing is that it isn’t actually that surprising 
after all. ‘Lateralus’, Tool’s third full-length album and the follow-
up to 1996’s justifiably-exulted ‘Aenima’, is many things, and then 
some. It’s wholly unique and frequently dense, consistently 
breathtaking and occasionally otherworldly, sometimes harsh and often 
wilfully inscrutable. But then, that’s exactly what we expected it to 

‘Lateralus’, in case you’ve been living under a rock on the Planet 
F**knut for the past millennium, is officially The Most Anticipated 
Album Of The Year By A Band Who Aren’t Called Guns N’Roses. ‘Aenima’ 
was a work of art – yes art - that redefined what could be done in 
the context of music made by four men and their instruments. It was 
the record NASA should have beamed into space to show the rest of the 
universe that, despite a swelling pile of evidence to the contrary, 
there is intelligent life within Earth’s musical 
community. ‘Lateralus’ doesn’t so much take what Tool achieved with 
that record and step up a gear as bust it through a wormhole in the 
space-time continuum and drag it to an altogether different place.

Be warned: if you’re expecting ‘Lateralus’ to push back the 
boundaries of what can be done in the name of modern music, think 
again. That infers some acknowledgement of the boundaries in the 
first place. ‘Lateralus’ is the most unique collection of songs 
you’ll find outside of, well, the last Tool album. It’s also the most 
perfectly played, perfectly produced record you’re likely to hear 
this or any other year. In anybody else’s hands, perfection is just a 
code word for repugnant tedium. In Tool’s hands, it’s the ultimate 
raison d’etre.

It’s almost easier to describe ‘Lateralus’ in terms of what there 
isn’t rather than what there is. There are none of the lightning-
strike dynamics of the past (see: ‘Aenima’’s ‘Stinkfist’ or ‘Hooker 
With A Penis’). There’s no grinding repetition, no marathons of aural 
endurance (see: the same record’s gargantuan closer ‘Third Eye’). And 
there are, to paraphrase one of the band’s old slogans, absolutely, 
definitely, unequivocally no f**king hit singles.

What there is, is a constant and unwavering feeling that something 
truly special is unfolding right before our ears. Of the 13 tracks 
that constitute ‘Lateralus’, only five duck under the five minutes 
mark, two of which (‘Eon Blue Apocalypse’ and ‘Mantra’) are short, 
hypnotic segues, and one more of which (‘Faaip De Oiad’, a piece that 
reputedly takes its title from the language of angels) is a ‘hidden’ 
track consisting of two minutes and 39 seconds of pure me(n)tal 
machine music.

Which leaves approximately 68 minutes of music that ebbs and flows in 
washes of near-genius; 68 minutes that take in the astounding drum 
patterns that underpin ‘The Grudge’ and ‘Lateralus’ itself, the 
massive riff that brings ‘Parabola’ to a close, or the veins of 
biliousness that shoot through ‘Ticks & Leeches’, and in the 11-
minute lysergic soundscape that is ‘Reflection’. And that’s not even 
mentioning Maynard James Keenan’s oblique, metaphysical lyrics. I’ll 
get back to you on that one sometime around Christmas...

There’s just too much going on here to grasp in one sitting, or two 
sittings, or even 22 sittings for that matter. ‘Aenima’ was released 
five years ago, and it’s only just starting to make sense; 
extrapolate that, and the Chinese puzzles that make up this brave, 
epic, strange, beautiful piece of music should fully unveil 
themselves sometime around 2010.

The crux of it is this: ‘Lateralus’ isn’t just one of the greatest 
albums you’ll hear this year, it’s one of the greatest albums you’ll 
hear this lifetime. Tool have just put rock’s shysters and 
shitkickers to shame with one wave of their collective hand. But 
then, that’s exactly what we expected all along.

The Tool Shed (the same article)

The band’s previous releases re-rated...

Opiate (Zoo/Volcano/BMG, 1992) – KKK

Debut mini-album that showcased the band’s formative sound. A million 
miles away from Tool 2001, though flashes of genius are in evidence.

Undertow – (Zoo/Volcano/BMG, 1993) - KKKK 

Tighter, more experimental than its predecessor, and an even bigger 
taste of what the future would hold. Debuted at Number Two on the US 
Billboard Chart.

Aenima – (Zoo/Volcano/BMG, 1996) - KKKK 

Towering, epochal, quasi-mystical masterpiece that wove everything 
from ritual magic to the work of late comedian Bill Hicks into its 
fabric. Often imitated, never equalled.

Salival – (Volcano/Tool Dissectional, 2000) - KKKK

Lavishly-presented box set featuring a CD of rare and unreleased 
music, plus DVD containing their groundbreaking promo videos.

Posted to t.d.n: 05/10/01 14:09:36