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Tool - Ænima CD (album) cover

ÆNIMA

Tool

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.10 | 898 ratings

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Shwang_Shwinga
5 stars My first review. I have heard many progressive albums, but I chose Tool's "Ænima" to be my first, and at good reason: It is a masterpiece. Everything about this album hooks me into a contemplative and emotional zone, and there it keeps me, wide-eyed and amazed. Tool has been my favorite band for years, but I still listen to this album most of all. Why? Very glad you asked, but be warned: people often dispute whether or not Tool is progressive, and I think they always have been at least a little, but this album really shows where they started to get prog. This disc takes you on a journey into a realm unexplored by your typical hair-and-image-oriented 90's nu-metal punks. This disc is a fine piece of progressive work that I'll be more than delighted to take you step-by-step through.

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1) Stinkfist - This is one of the singles you can hear from time to time on the radio. However, this does not mean that its simple or mainstream. Opening with loads of feedback and a heavy intro chord progression, Stinkfist is both an angry and thought-provoking track about social purging, and slowly getting used to unwanted changes....the metaphor used just happens to be the sexual act of fisting....oh, how very "Tool." Great way to open the album.

2) Eulogy - One of the best tracks on the album, but I cannot for the life of me understand why the first 2 minutes of it are a strange clicking percussional noise. However, the wait is well worthy of this tedious buildup, as the song is nearly perfect. The drumming is a specific highlight of its many gifts, as they manage to be wild and yet on beat at the same time. Maynard James Keenan's vocals soar above the instruments as he screams "Goodbye" at the end, a major F-you to L Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. Jone's distorted and wicked guitar work is another of the many merits offered by this eight and a half minute piece of art. A definite win.

3) H. - The kind of song you really admire towards the end. At first, it seems just a semi-ambient piece with its occasional hypes, but around the 2 minute mark, the most melodic and fabulous main chorus rises and your heart sinks. Afterwards, it sort of spirals into this mulligan stew of chorus, verse, and unexpected rises and falls. A gripping tale (many speculate it is about heroin, though this is most definitely not the case - Maynard has declared it is about the "angel and devil" that sit on your shoulder and aide your decision making.) Fantastic play, through and through.

4) Useful Idiot - I don't really see the point of this song, I typically don't mind segue tracks (or "fillers," as they are referred to by, well....idiots...), but this sort of gets to me. Its a 30-something second track designed using the sound of a record player skipping...hmm, curious, that's for sure, but I never skip it when listening to the album, as I think its a great buildup for...

5) Forty-Six & 2 - Ah, another Tool song that has gained air play. This is probably one of the first I ever heard (along with "Sober," of course). Now, just because it can be heard on a trashy local rock station does not detract from its value, as 46&2 is still an amazing song. The intro bassline is catchy (but still creative), and the tension built is released in a perfect way: through heavy and intoxicatingly dark riffs. Once again, Carey's drumming is outstanding here, especially towards the end (in a Rush's Tom Sawyer sense, not surprising as Rush are an influence on the band's instrumental activity). Overall a massive attack of a song that can't be missed.

6) Message to Harry Manback - I assure you, the first time you hear this one, you'll ask why in God's name this is playing on your CD player. I know its peculiar, but if you go and listen to the words being spoken (some of it will require translation), its actually somewhat humorous in context, especially since its an actual message on an answering machine. Its funny the first few spins, but after a while it becomes easily skip-able.

7) Hooker With a Penis - Not about lewd sex acts! This song's title refers to musicians as "hookers" who sell themselves and their talents for cash, and the penis...well, Tool's members are all male, so they are referring to themselves. If you listen to/read the lyrics, you kind of understand what they're coming from. This one is a pretty hard rocker, still though, Keenan's vocals and Chancellor's thumping bass keep this one an articulate track, and yes, the drumming is still amazing kudos to Danny Carey. Excellent song to get pumped and excited to.

8) Intermission - This is a one-minute track that merely mimics the next song's guitar riff with a keyboard, its a cute song and I always listen to it right before "Jimmy."

9) Jimmy - You can, as of now, hear this one for yourself up in Tool's free MP3 section of their page on this site. But as of my opinion, its a great song, very dark and atmospherical, nostalgic in a sense. Not necessarily the most memorable track off the album, but well received on this end. The kind of song you get into while its playing.

10) Die Eier Von Satan - Hah. The whole track is sort of industrial-like, and is spoken only in German. To the casual listener, it sounds like some Nazi-satanic dribble, but in actuality, it is a recipe for German hash cookies. Its a touch of humor on this dark and dreary album, which I find quite refreshing.

11) Pushit - Ahh, this song is so, what's the word, EPIC.Almost ten minutes of just raw dark emotion and a touch of angst and bitterness, this track really signifies progressive status, if you don't believe me, listen to it. The way the beat pulses through your mind will most definitely rock your world. Although it has its quiet down time, that doesn't de-articulate any aspect of it at all, much like Rush or King Crimson, it is very busy music at all times. Keenan's vocals are top-notch here, especially when it kicks back in at around 7:50. Probably one of the best songs this album has to offer.

12) Cesaro Summability - Not sure what this is. Segue, yes....but what exactly is making that peculiar noise is anybody's guess. Thank God this one is only a minute and a half. Though it does promote a good album flow, I couldn't picture this album really "flowing" well without the segues in it.

13) Ænema - Title track (even though the album title is spelled differently, I suppose it's pronounced the same, and I say homonyms count as title tracks). Very well pieced together, Adam Jone's guitarwork here is creative and very welcoming to Keenan's rant about Los Angeles being a complete dump full of fake people. This song won a Grammy award, one of the few songs that has done so fully and deservingly. A great song overall, and yes, very prog. Thats why I'm so proud it won a Grammy!

14) (-) Ions - What can I say, this is one of the only segue tracks I don't really care for. Its just strange noise for 4 minutes. Now, if you're listening with headphones, its very trippy, kinda cool, and still fits well between Ænema and Third Eye.....just I usually skip it unless I'm really into the album (or wearing headphones).

15) Third Eye - Dear God. What is this? What is this near fifteen minute amazement I hear? The most incredible song ever? Perhaps, though that is indeed up for debate. Beginning with a heartbeat effect and Bill Hicks stand-up comedy samples, this song spirals into a throbbing, pulsing, breathing organism that worms its way into your brain and takes hostage your thoughts and senses. A very atmospherical track, but when its heavy, its heavy.Cerebral and intelligent, this rocker is the perfect way to wrap up the album.

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Brilliant. Everyone who claims to listen to progressive music needs to at least dabble with this sort of thing, as Ænima is a true masterpiece of its time. Even if you've never heard of Tool, or haven't listened to them yet, I cannot recommend this to you more. Tool have been described as "thinking man's metal." True, there are metal aspects to their surface sound, but beneath this is a true prog soul: pushing the borderline to be different, by constructing complex songs that aide in the questioning of how things are. Not only are these some of the most talented musicians I've ever heard, but also the production quality and overall outcome sound is tight and easy on the ears. I found that the final product was very well pieced together and whoever mixed and produced this album deserves almost as much credit as the artists themselves. People can say what they please about Ænima, they can say its metal and rubbish and doesn't belong here, that's fine with me, it doesn't stir me up as much as it used to. The way I see it, these people approach listening to this sort of music in a shallow and criticism-laden way, and should dig deeper, as Tool would say. Point being, if you don't have this album, go buy it. Even if its not your bag, this CD belongs in your library, as Tool have more than earned their way into yours or anyone's collection.

-SS

Shwang_Shwinga | 5/5 |

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