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Tool - Ænima CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.09 | 890 ratings

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5 stars When my vinyl edition of Aenima arrived in 1996, I ripped into it with a sense of childish glee that I have probably never felt since. The vinyl release pre-dated the CD by about two weeks, so I was one of the first to experience this seminal release by one of modern metal's greatest forces.

I was a huge fan of Tool's first album 'Undertow', and my anticipation for this album cannot be understated. A year prior to release, a friend from the US sent me a bootlegged tape she had taken recorded at the 1995/96 New Year's gig. This featured many of the early songs from Aenima, written with departed bassist Paul D'Amour, including Stinkfist, Eulogy, PushIt and Aenema. Even though the sound quality was poor, I was already in love with these songs by the time the album was released, and hence my expectations were high.

The album kicks off with Stinkfist, a catchy, undulating rock song that received a lot of airplay here in Australia. This leads into the epic Eulogy, one of the first songs where Tool exercised their prog muscle and took us on a journey unlike than anything we saw on Undertow. The exquisite build up, crunching chorus, subdued breakdown and pulsating outro combine flawlessly. It was a taste of what was to come with the rest of Aenima and subsequent albums.

H and Forty Six & 2 follow, the former showcasing a new subtlety to Maynard's vocals, and the latter combining Justin Chancellor's amazing talents on bass and a more reflective lyrical content and delivery. Where Undertow dealt primarily with themes anger, frustration and agression, here we see the formative stages of the album 'Lateralus' as Maynard ponders themes of evolving and understanding oneself.

In PushIt and Aenema we have two more epic tracks. Aenema in particular is a standout, as the band gives us a tongue-in-cheek apraisal of the future of Los Angeles. Adam Jones is at his rhythmic best here, and Danny Carey's drumming in the outro is evocative - in a great way - of an earthquake that swallows the world.

When I saw in a pre-release statement that Third Eye was 13 minutes plus, I expected another Disgustipated from Undertow. That is to say, cricket noises or an equivalent filler. What I delight to discover this poetry-laced masterpiece as an outro to the album. For Tool fans, used to waiting 5+ years between albums, the line 'So good to see you, I've missed you so much' is almost an anthem. This track was also the first time I, and undoutedly others, had heard the work of comedian Bill Hicks, and the excerpts from his live performance used here frame the song beautifully.

Aenima is one of my top five albums of all time. It inspired me to pick up a guitar for the first time, and in 15+ years of listening has never grown tired. I can't give a higher recommendation than that.

bonestorm | 5/5 |


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