Publication: fm Sound (www.fmsound.fws1.com)
Date: May, 2001
John Kieran (email@example.com)
John Kieran (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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