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Tool - Ænima CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.08 | 983 ratings

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4 stars As a Tool fan, I'm surprised I'm writing a review like this. To tell the truth, I really enjoy this album and I pop it in the car often enough to listen to some great Tool music, but I really can't understand how people can even compare it to Lateralus. I mean there are some solid concepts in this music, and some great lyrical work, but often enough the songs are slow and repetitive enough to be boring. I'll give a few examples as I review.

Stinkfist is a really cool track. It's a pretty standard song for the first minute or so, it starts off with an electronic tabla beat and later a neat riff. At first it sounds like your average grunge song, with such a repetition of the riff, but then the chorus comes in, and it's lound and dark and almost haunting. The bridge is even better. Great song. The lyrics and meanings in the song are also great if you have the time too look into the meaning.

Eulogy is one that I didn't get at first. Basically, it was like Stinkfist but longer. There's another repetitive clicking rhythm that goes on for quite a while. After a while you learn to like the buildup, and appreciate the rest of the song, but at first it seems like just a long hard rock track.

Next is H., another hard one to appreciate at first. After listening to it for a while you should find it pleasingly atmospheric and emotional. I'm not really a fan of the chorus, though plenty of people seem to think it's very powerful. It picks up a pace after a while, a good change of the dark mood.

Useful Idiot, basically a joke track, loops the vinyl static into 46 and 2. This is a really good song. It's got a great meditative atmosphere, and the riff is very haunting and atmospheric. The lyrics on this song are possibly one of their best, there have been very lengthy explanations on the meanings of this song on many Tool forums and lyrics site. The bridge section is exceptionally good. The guitar riff changes from 7/8 to 4/4 seamlessly and at first the changes are very unexpected. There's also a really interesting drum solo in this bridge after the guitar riffing repeats a few times. It has a very good build, going from some cool cymbal taps all the way to double bass drum pounding and tom rolls. Great stuff.

Message to Harry Manback is interesting. One notable thing about Tool's albums are their filler tracks that they tend to put on the albums. They're not bad songs, they're just not really songs at all. I am an oddity among listeners, because I really appreciate the filler tracks. The ones on this album actually seem to have deeper meanings than some of the songs on here. This one in particular is the sound of an italian man leaving threatening messages on a message machine, with some very sad minor key piano in the background.

After the piano drifts away, a distorted guitar riff comes on. This signals Hooker with a Penis, one of the more energetic songs on the album. The rhythms go between 6/4 and 4/4 quite a bit in this song, and there's even a great quick 5/8 towards the end. There's not much to say about this song. It's possibly the most straightforward Tool track ever created. Overall, it's mostly an angry alternative rock track.

Intermission is rightfully named. It's a quick little theater organ ditty, mostly a fun song to put on the album. It's also a fun one to play on the piano, if you ever feel like learning to do it.

Intermission takes its melody from Jimmy. This is in my opinion a very boring song. The distortion does not fit with the terribly slow tempo. It's too slow to be a good headbanging track, there's too much distortion for it to be meditative, and overall it's too repetitive. This really does lower my opinion of this album. It's definetely not my favorite Tool song.

Next is Die Eier Von Satan. This is a very interesting filler track. First listens bring to mind a nazi rally, with loud german vocals over a very cool beat consisting of pneumatic hisses and screeches, along with some loud percussive sounds. You may simply think this is a song about Nazi rallies, simply based on the sound of a crowd cheering to the loud rants of a german speaker. Look up the lyrics, and you may find it very surprising. This is one of Tool's ways of opening their fans' mind, a common lyrical theme found in much of their music.

Pushit is a track that I must be misunderstanding. Frankly, just like Jimmy, it's too loud to be meditative, and I really think for such a slow song it isn't very atmospheric. Unlike Jimmy, it is almost ten minutes long and really doesn't seem to go anywhere. I would like another Tool fan to point out my faults and show me why this is a great track, but after listening to this album time and time again, I come to a conclusion that I find this a boring song.

Cesaro Summability is an interesting soundscape. It sounds like an experimental noise track, consisting of the sound of a baby put through different filters to sound almost mechanical. Again, this is another filler track.

Ænema is an awesome song. The opening riff is awesome, and once the drums come in it just gets better. There is no way to describe how much I love this song. There is such a high energy to the song, because of the great drums. I also find the extremely cynical lyrics to be interesting on this song. It's just such a unique track that it must be heard. I would call this the highlight of the album. Others will probably disagree, but this is just my opinion.

After the rage of the previous song, we are given another quiet soundscape called (-) Ions. It has a post-apocalyptic feel to it, sounding like wind and a Jacob's ladder buzzing throughout it. At the end a very interesting headphone noise experiment goes on. The first time you listen to this should definetely be through headphones.

At last comes Third Eye. It leads the listener first through a paced buildup, and goes through many waves of both rage and atmospheric sections. It's got some cool riffs and an interesting guitar solo. It's got some great emotional singing on it too. Although it is a bit wandering and does not always seem together quite well, it's a very good song. It's not in my opinion, the highlight of the album, though it does some interesting stuff. It's ending is also very good.

In my opinion, this isn't a great prog album. It's more like a really really good grunge album. There's definetely some good stuff on here, but not all of it is fantastic. I'd actually say it's a bit less than 4 stars, but I rounded up. The album fails to be atmospheric, like other Tool releases, most notably Lateralus. I will also make another controversal claim and say that I think 10,000 Days is a more interesting release. I'd still above all reccomend getting their masterpiece album Lateralus and see what you think of them, though this isn't a bad listen.

topofsm | 4/5 |


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