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The Tool Page: An Article

Publication: fm Sound (www.fmsound.fws1.com)

Date: May, 2001

Transcribed by
John Kieran (thenapalm@home.com)


  page: 
 title: Tool "Lateralus"
author: Kevin Lill

Not many bands can open an album with an eight-and-a-half 
minute musical extravaganza and get away with it. In fact, 
the only triumphant attempt that comes to mind is Pink 
Floyd’s Shine On You Crazy Diamond, parts 1-4 which opens 
Wish You Were Here. Until now. Tool, arguably the most 
original and musically talented metal act to grace the scene 
since Metallica went pop, return this month with their long-
awaited third studio album, Lateralus, and burst back into 
form with an impressive array of marathon length rock tunes 
the likes of which have not been seen in a very long time. 
In this day and age of alternative/modern rock albums full of 
short, radio-friendly singles, Tool bucks the norm yet again 
by composing guitar-oriented mini symphonies that drive 
Lateralus from start to finish. Track one, The Grudge, sets 
the stage for this bold effort, weighing in at the 
aforementioned eight-and-a-half minutes. Only a few tracks 
are less than four minutes in length, and these are merely 
intros to longer pieces. 

However, you shouldn’t let the length or the ambition of 
these songs discourage you from listening. The dominant 
sound on the album is what fans have come to expect from 
Tool. This means plenty of piercing guitar solos and bone-
jarring riffs courtesy of Adam Jones, both raucous and lush 
rhythm arrangements from Danny Carey’s drums and Justin 
Chancellor’s bass, and eerily beautiful vocals from the voice 
of modern metal, Maynard James Keenan. 

These vocals are highlighted nicely on the two-track 
smorgasbord Parabol and Parabola. Parabol begins the piece 
with a quiet arrangement of simple guitar and bass played 
with classic Tool grace. Keenan’s vocal line takes over quickly 
with a haunting harmony sung in a style more often used for 
Latin hymns at Catholic Mass than rock music. However, the 
elegance of Keenan’s voice combines perfectly with the 
muffled guitars to create a soulful and peaceful moment 
within the album, one that is consequently shattered with the 
explosion of arena rock that Parabola ushers in. Built solidly 
on Jones’ drop-D, fuzz-amplified guitar chords, this track 
clarifies just why rock concerts cause deafness. 

The grandeur of these two tracks is indicative of the rest of 
the album. The lamentative first single Schism and the title 
track Lateralis (inexplicably spelled differently than the album 
title) also possess the same level of anthemic greatness, 
both coalescing in pure rock finales that could close any 
show, anywhere, any time. However, with the emphasis of this 
record on grace and crescendo, Tool has not forgotten its 
roots. The centering riff of Ticks and Leeches is straight out 
of the old Opiate and Undertow days, creating a classic Tool 
song lengthened out to fit in the overall style of the new 
album. 

Perhaps the greatest artistic achievement on the record is 
Reflection. A beautiful, if somewhat disconcerting piece, 
Reflection paints a definite picture in the listeners' mind as 
the music opens a curtain on a strange avant garde scene. A 
fitting soundtrack to a futuristic Arabian adventure, the band 
uses this track to take the listener with them on a pilgrimage 
across some Salvador Dali desert canvas, finally arriving in a 
place that is sonically and thematically all their own. The 
originality of the composition writes yet another chapter in 
Tool’s tome of modern psychedelia. 

Artistic achievement aside, this album, like 1997’s Aenima, is 
still a pure rock animal. Everything Tool has come to 
represent is back and emphasized for effect. Bottom line, if 
you liked Tool before, you’ll love Lateralus. Throw it in and 
sing along with the less esoteric lyrics (I hope you’re choking/ 
I hope you choke on it) on the way to your next anger 
management seminar. And don’t forget to turn it up. 

Posted to t.d.n: 06/07/01 15:19:25