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Tool - Lateralus CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.22 | 1644 ratings

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5 stars After seeing Tool in concert last night, the time seems right to post a review on Lateralus.

I remember first sitting down to listen to this album when it was released in 2001, just a week shy of 12 years ago, and for several days not really knowing what to think of it. It was so dense, complex and intricate that I was somewhat overwhelmed. I knew that I liked it and wanted to listen to it more, and over the course of a number of listens the pieces fell into place.

"The Grudge" gets things underway and we're immediately assaulted with odd time signatures, and instruments juxtaposed with differing timings. These are undoubtedly some of the elements my head was trying to sort out in those first few listens. The math is sound, however, and all of the components ends up in the right place at the right time. For the rest of "The Grudge", it's all here. Intruguing lyrics, sweeping moods, amazing musicianship and a ridiculously long scream from Maynard at the end. And from there the album only gets better.

"Parabol/Parabola" are two halves to the same song. When the latter kicks in, it's simply a great rock track. The odd time signatures are dispensed with in favour of a good old fashioned belter. Add in uplifting, spiritual lyrics and there's an instant classic.

"Ticks and Leeches" is a thunderous, antagonistic track that would be more at home thematically on an earlier work such as "Undertow", but it's once again an amazing track and I have no issue with it appearing here. Danny Carey steals the show with some of the greatest percussion work you'll ever here. Maynard gives it his all, to such an extent that Tool rarely play this track live due to the strain it places on his vocal chords.

It's hard to pick a standout on an album such as this, but if I had to do so I'd choose the title track "Lateralus". It simply has everything, from a great buildup, catchy power chords, baffling and ingenious timing, and more great moments than I care to count. Take, for instance, the timing in the first verse, which is built upon a Fibonacci sequence: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and back down again. Who would even think to incorporate that into a song, let alone have the audacity to make it sound amazing? Then there's the fretless bass goodness supplied by Justin Chancellor in the second half of the song, more inspiring lyrics, and everything else in between.

In short, the song "Lateralus" could best be described as the love child of a mathematical genius, an insightful philosopher and a sexed-up rock god.

"Disposition", "Reflection" and "Triad" are linked thematically and could be considered one creation. After the chaos of some of the earlier tracks, these show a more reflective, inward-looking approach that balances the album beautifully. Danny Carey once again shows his versatility by bringing other instruments such as tabla into the mix, and there's some excellent usage of synth to add to the atmospherics, something unusual for Tool.

Those complexities that had me scratching my head initially are the very thing that keep me coming back to this album 12 years later. In some ways, I'm still figuring it out. I could write a 300 page review on the meaning of lyrics and how the songs all fit together, but for now I'll leave it here.

Clocking in at over 76 minutes, one would be forgiven for thinking that Lateralus must at some point outstay its welcome. Albums of this length often do. But rest assured, this is an incredibly enthralling creation by a band at its peak. It's a towering monument to the skill, talent and creativity of all involved.

bonestorm | 5/5 |


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