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Tool - Lateralus CD (album) cover

LATERALUS

Tool

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.23 | 1048 ratings

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The Progmatist
5 stars Musically and poetically inspired. What else can you say about an album that is so near- perfect in every way? From the excellent production and mature musicianship to the brilliant lyrics, LATERALUS shows us what happens when a band has something to say and follows through on it to the smallest detail.

While admittedly not a concept album in the traditional sense, any close listener will pick up on the idea that LATERALUS is telling a story of sorts. And what makes this story so masterfully powerful is that it doesn't rely on a tired plot that follows a rigid linear flow. Instead, TOOL offers us a collection of songs that represent sentiments more than episodic installments in a time-bound story. The result, then, is a timeless work of art that forces the listener to pick up the pieces and make sense out of the apparent fragmentation. And when it can be discovered, the wholeness here can be experienced as arguably one of the most profoundly inspiring musical journeys that any band has yet to offer.

Anyone who may have been turned off by the band's inflated public personality or by their previous musical explorations into the occult or sarcastically bitter realms should look no further than LATERALUS to find some truth. In fact, anyone who claims that TOOL is nothing more than an angry metal band has obviously not listened to this album. If they have, they haven't listened closely enough. Through LATERALUS, we hear a narrator that is so sensitively in tune with his fellow person that he finds himself victimized by his brother's selfish tendencies, his lover's fading interest. In "The Grudge," we hear in the anxious lyrics and blistering hard rock the song of the better man trapped in a stagnant situation that can only be resolved if the stubborn party will only "give away the stone." "The Patient" gives us this same man, now wondering why he's sufferring and waiting for someone who inflicts so much pain. Surely, if there was no "loving embrace to see me through, I certainly would have walked away by now." In fact, we understand in "Schism" that the pieces have to fit seeing as how "I watched them fall away." "Parabol" and "Parabola" serve as a beautiful distraction for the sufferer. But is it really a distraction? Surely there is some truth in the idea that "this body holding me" is a reminder that as we are eternal, "all this pain is an illusion." Nevertheless, the man is sucked back into the conflict in "Ticks and Leeches," and it is here when he loses his humanity. As he screams, "Is this what you wanted? Is this what you had in mind? I hope you choke," we understand that the stubborn party has succeeded, and the beautifully contemplative musical break toward the end of the rageful song testifies to the notion that the better man has now been made worse.

The mystery here, however, is whether "Lateralus" serves to conclude the album proper or comment on the tragedy that precedes it. Reminding us of the eternal nature of life and of the implicit futility of engaging in such conflicts, we are forced to make up our own minds when it comes to the end of the album. Is our sufferring narrator able to rise above the trials and tribulations of this world and recognize the inherent transience of it all, "finding beauty in the dissonance"? Or does the song merely lead into the atmospherics that make up the ethereal end of the album? Perhaps the conflict and the peace are meant to coexist. After all, despite all the pain that the most sensitive of us experience as a consequence of being so intensely connected with our brothers and lovers, would we really want to "rise above" it all? Sure, we'd find more peace, but would we still be here? Would we truly "swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be a human"?

The Progmatist | 5/5 |

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