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Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Tool - Lateralus CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.22 | 1379 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

5 stars This is absolutely a masterpiece as far as I'm concerned. This is achieved on a number of levels: 1. Lyrics/Meaning. I understand that in prog., lyrical importance generally takes a backseat to the music. This is even true in Tool, where MJK has always stated that the music is what really matters. However, I find that lyrical depth and significance is present in Lateralus, which only makes it better to me. The lyrics are very vague, but not without meaning. They simply allow for you to interpret it whichever way you want. I'll go further into the specific lyrical contributions to each song as I review the songs individually, though. 2. Musicality. This is where Tool really shines. Continuing to produce unique and inspirational music without any help from MJK and the lyrics. You cannot deny Tool's creativity in this aspect.. nothing is ever too similar and this is again, another great inclusion on Lateralus. 3. Complexity. And I don't mean the usual odd time signatures- they are by now a trademark of all prog music. I mean the Fibonacci Sequence hidden within the lyrics and time signatures on the title track. I mean the ability to rearrange the track sequence and being able to find whole new meaning and having the tracks actually flow together better. Tool simply outdid themselves with this album.

..Now, on to the track reviews. (This review is written using the Holy Gift track sequence, as I listened to all the songs in that order.) I'll include the original track listing in parentheses next to the song title.

1. Parabol (6) An unquestionably dark song but an immediate introduction into the album. Also the beginning of Parabola, which too starts immediately and keeps the dark feel, but is much louder and powerful than Parabol. The lyrical content pretty much holds the same meaning as Parabola, although much shorter. It is about living life in the moment ("choosing to be here right now") and embracing life as a gift. Truly beautiful meaning which is only lengthened with the next track.

2. Parabola (7) The lyrical significance begins to rise as the song continues, and the feel of prog. metal is finally underway as the volume greatly increases at the very start of Parabola and the end of Parabol. This song contains perhaps some of the most well-known Tool lyrics: "This body holding me, reminds me of my own mortality, embrace this moment, remember; we are eternal, all this pain is an illusion". The music itself is also amazing and helps showcase some of the technicality Tool are capable of.

3. Schism (5) And here is where the lyrics are vague and allow for your own personal interpretation. The Schism is obviously alluding to a breakdown of sorts. You can take it to reference religious fallouts or you can apply it to any relationship or personal situation that has had a schism. At any rate, the music holds many breakdowns itself and is another reminder of Tool's creativity and uniqueness.

4. Ticks & Leeches (8) As far as lyrics go, this one is pretty straightforward. No vagueness present. It's about MJK's (or I guess, Tool's) experiences with record companies and sucking them dry, constantly nagging them, wanting more. And this is their way of giving it to them. ("Hope this is what you wanted, hope this is what you had in mind, 'cause this is what you're getting.. I hope you're choking, I hope you choke on this..".) This is a song where the musicality far outshines the lyrical content, as most prog. usually is. However, this goes far above what most prog usually is within the music and kick ass drumming of Danny Carey, in what is widely considered one of the best drumming tracks in existence.. certainly so in prog. metal.

5. Mantra (4) A very strange prelude into Lateralus, but it flows well (as is the purpose of the Holy Gift track sequence).

6. Lateralus (9) The peak of Tool's complexity. (At least, for the time being.) The opening time signature of 9/8 into 8/8 into 7/8 signals the beginning of the Fibonacci within the song. (As 987 is the 17th step in the Fibonacci Sequence.) MJK then goes on to represent the Fibonacci within the lyrics (in terms of how many syllables are used in each section of lyrics). However there's no need to further explain this as I'm sure you're all already aware of how this is done. Lyrically speaking, this is also a great song. It's meaning is to live life by expanding, reaching out into the unknown, breaking the pattern of monotony that some of us live in.

7. Faaip De Oiad (13) Just a very creepy, spooky, haunting excerpt included simply because Tool are strange people and like to experiment. Not really a song at all, but if you don't get freaked out by listening to this in the dark and just letting your mind wander... well, you may be stranger than them.

8. The Grudge (1) One of my personal favorites as far as lyrics go. He's basically mocking those who hold grudges and refuse to let them go, as they have made the grudge the center of their being, and that is now the only way they know how to live so they keep it going. ("Clutch it like a cornerstone, otherwise it all comes down.") A very nice musical piece as well, not as consistently loud and angry as other songs, but it has it's moments, and I don't find the quieter parts dull at all.

9. Triad (12) An instrumental, and it allows the music to speak. It actually has meaning as part of the Disposition/Reflection/Triad trio, which is the only downside of the Holy Gift sequence (having that trio broken up).

10. Eon Blue Apocalypse (2) Simply a tribute to Adam's dog, no amazing musicality or complexity within. Although it does provide a refreshing and calm break amidst all the chaos.

11. Reflection (11) A much calmer song than usual, and it lasts the entire song, which is quite lengthy. The polyrhythms are ever present making it an interesting music piece, while the soothing guitar is something we haven't seen a lot of in Tool songs. The song's lyrics represent becoming a form of a higher consciousness and pushing boundaries ("We are all one mind, capable of all imagined and all conceivable").

12. The Patient (3) A simpler-sounding song musically, though as usual, even the most complex parts can be played to sound simple, and this is an example of that. Lyrically speaks about being patient and keeping faith, needing to believe in something.. waiting it out to find what it is. (This can be as deep as you want it to be, as it can be interpreted personally to fit whatever situation.)

13. Disposition (10) Lyrically saying just watch it all go by, take it all in.. again, more meaning within the trio.

So, that's my interpretation of the songs. I guess I kinda broke away from reviewing each track in terms of how good I thought it was.. but I got caught up in the album and decided to explore the possible meanings of it. I think the fact that I got lost in the album even after hearing it fully through multiple times before shows how amazing it is, though. Like I said at the beginning: a masterpiece.

MarkMadness | 5/5 |


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