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Tool - Opiate (EP) CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

2.83 | 262 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Lest we forget that "Tool" is not at all subtle code for genitalia, Keenan and Co. give us plenty of unabashed, adolescent cringe on this, their first major-label release (Zoo Entertainment, 1992). The Opiate EP features a few tracks previously found on their true debut, 72826 (1991), a title phone-coded to mean "SATAN". Preceding their more progressive, (slightly) compositionally adventurous material, much of this EP has positively of-the-time sonic choices. You may be able to compare it to other Alt Metal acts such as Helmet or even (eventually) Deftones. The first thing that may be noted is the lower quality recordings, resulting in a more quiet and muddy release.

"Sweat" is our opener, a firmly Alt Metal number featuring decently memorable melodies and solid performances, most notably from drummer Danny Carey (shocker). His performance provides some major groove and general rhythmic interest. Most interesting of all to me is "Sweat"'s appearance on the OST to the much-later-than-I-thought Escape From L.A. (1996). "Hush", next, features some big, classic metal riffs and a pretty stellar vocal performance from Keenan. Not a lot of interest here, perhaps peaking with a sort of breakdown at the end. We return to rhythmic interest on "Part of Me", so much so that it could very well have been a mid-period Rush track at times. The chorus reveals some Post-Hardcore roots, also shining through on some of the guitar work in riff and melody. Post-Hardcore always had plenty of potential for experimentation. Pretty good.

"Cool And Ugly", a live performance, begins with the call to "Throw that Bob Marley wanna-be motherfucker outta here." Doesn't that just make you feel warm and bubbly? Anyways, decent Metal riffage. But pretty meh, pretty lackluster track ultimately. Worst of the bunch? [Yep.] This performance seems to go right on into our next live track, "Jerk-Off", another return to some interest, methinks. There are some stylistic markers that definitely feel like a glance forward into material off Undertow (1993), especially with the more free, softer vocal performance. Keenan jumps back and forth between this and, moreso, punky atonality. The bridge here has something going on, but not a whole lot to save the track's single-minded nature. Finally, the title track, "Opiate", a continuation of that melodic, softened vocal style. This is also the second track that strikes me as, admittedly unsurprising, post-Grunge affect. Alright if you don't hear it, but there's much that sounded like this in the coming years, enter the mid-90s. Some of the melodies didn't age too well to my ears. Corny. Slightly longer-form at maybe 5 minutes (featuring a hidden track), "Opiate" wavers in and out of post-Ambience. The rolling drums around the middle mark is definitely one of the greatest moments on the album. This hidden track has a surprise Psychedelia about it, "The Gaping Lotus Experience", which at times also reminds me weirdly of some of the vocal absurdities of Frank Zappa(?). There are certainly higher compliments from the possible comparisons one can make to Frank though.

Anyways, fairly decent early release.

DangHeck | 2/5 |


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