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Tool Ćnima album cover
4.07 | 1047 ratings | 84 reviews | 44% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1996

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Stinkfist (5:11)
2. Eulogy (8:28)
3. H. (6:07)
4. Useful Idiot (0:38)
5. Forty Six & 2 (6:04)
6. Message to Harry Manback (1:53)
7. Hooker with a Penis (4:33)
8. Intermission (0:56)
9. Jimmy (5:24)
10. Die Eier Von Satan (2:17)
11. Pushit (9:55)
12. Cesaro Summability (1:26)
13. Ćnema (6:39)
14. (-) Ions (4:00)
15. Third Eye (13:47)

Total Time 77:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Maynard James Keenan / vocals
- Adam Jones / guitar
- Justin Chancellor / bass
- Danny Carey / drums & percussion, samples

- Bill Hicks / sampled spoken voice (15)
- Marko Fox / vocals (10)
- Eban Schletter / organ (8)
- Chris Pittman / addit. synthesizer (15)
- David Bottrill / keyboards (6), co-producer & mixing

Releases information

Artwork: Cam De Leon with Adam Jones & Kevin Willis (Art Direction) and Tool (concept)

CD Zoo Entertainment ‎- 61422-31087-2 (1996, US)
CD Volcano (2) ‎- 0550012 (1998, Europe)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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TOOL Ćnima ratings distribution

(1047 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(44%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (14%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

TOOL Ćnima reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by frenchie
5 stars aenima is tools third album (unless you dont count opiate to be a full length album) and is a true masterpiece. This album is much more accessible as it has excellent production and a huge improvement on the bands amazing guitar skills.

The album kicks off with "stinkfist" which shows off the bands guitar skills and progresses beautiful throughout. Maynards vocals are the key ingredient here. "Eulogy" is quite a long piece and can be hard to get into as it takes a while to build up but i think the lyrics (some say they refer to bill hicks because of the album artwork but others say they relate to jesus) are superbly written and this song shows how tool can switch between emotion and angst. "Forty Six & 2" is also a long winding piece that continues to build up brilliantly throughout and is one of the bands best songs.

"Message To Harry Manback" is one of the short filler tracks to help link the 2 songs beside it together. These tracks are ok but can get annoying. "Hooker with a Penis" is a very different song. It is very angry and the lyrics are an attack at the media because tool are very much against selling out. Even though the lyrics tend to be a little crude, there is some rather excellent guitar work ere. "intermission" is a silly piece that is used to build up into the explosive "Jimmy" which has heavy droning guitars and brilliant, tortured vocals.

"Pu[&*!#]" is another lengthy piece but is one of the best songs on the album. The 2 best songs are saved for last. "Aenima" is a brutal melee of angry guitar riffs that weaves in and out of mellow singing and angry screams. "Third Eye" is what makes this album a masterpiece. Excelling over all the other tracks, this 13 minute epic sums up the whole album with its ever changing musical progress. Aenima is one of the best progressive rock albums of the 90's along with Dream Theaters "Scenes From a Memory".

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars Should Tool be considered as prog? has been one of the ongoing topic of progheads all over the world (and not only in the Archives). This debate will probably never end but since itis on here , I will point out that prog or not , this is a bloody good album!!!!! Certainly it has something to do with our beloved genre , mostly through the long psychadelic-like instrumental passages , and I for one think that psych music should be inclusive of this genre (bands like Bevis Frond , Jefferson Airplane , Spirit etc.... are too close not to be included) . So wild , weird and energetic that this does deseve a mention even by me who generally do not listen to such stuff but here there is something special.
Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars From the menacing opening riffs of Stinkfist to the dramatic closing crash of the mammoth Third Eye, Aenima is a masterful work of progressive metal. With roots in both grunge and metal (and yes, I've heard this band compared to both Bush and the Smashing Pumpkins as well as the infintely more respectable Red-era King Crimson) Tool generally rises above its peers because of a combination of Maynard's fine (often distorted) vocals, its skillful mastery of dynamics and the percussive talents of Danny Carey (one of my favourite drummers of the 90s).

Now I won't deny that Tool could have done with a sympathetic keyboard player to add some variety to the arrangements, but in general the album ebbs and flows engagingly. The two monsters Push It and Third Eye are probably the standout pieces for me, but I must say that the songs often blend into each other. The percussion heavy build-ups and the occasional psychedelic guitar breaks can be found all over the place.

I must say that after a while an element of predictability creeps into the material. One can almost sense Maynard waiting to explode with anger even when the song doesn't necessarily call for it. I also don't always appreciate all the aural soundscapes (snatches of dialogue and interminable sounds of distant wind) that Tool seeks to create.

Despite its flaws, this is one of prog-metal's greatest albums. ... 59% on the MPV scale

Review by Zitro
4 stars 4.4 stars

Close to Masterpiece status. This band has introduced dark metal to Prog rock and succeeded greatly (the next album melds the two genres together, sounding like a heavier King Crimson). The guitarist style is post-grunge/metal, but it is the other 3 members that captivate me so much. The singer can hold long notes and his voice is very emotional and has a wide range. The bass player has impressive and dark/hypnotic bass lines, and the drummer is one of the most interesting drummers I have ever heard. I am happy this album won a grammy, because instrumentally, lyrically, emotionally, and melodically ... it is a masterful album. Why 4 stars then? Well, this is like Fragile of the 90s : great songs with filler between them. The problem is that the filler is very annoying, pointless, and even cringe-worthy at times. I give this one a thumbs up just because of the unusual song titles.

I will go to the songs first : "StinkFist" is a very heavy opener that succeeds in bringing great melodies while it keeps being heavy. The guitar dominates it, but the bass has its moments to shine too."Eulogy" is one of Tool's best songs. It begins with a catchy percussive start, and heads into a short epic full of anger (attack on religion/priests). The melodies and riffs in this track are the band at their absolute best. "H" is mellower than the previous two tracks. The melodies are of course memorable, especially in the chorus. 46 & 2 has a nice chorus and a great instrumental break with a strong bassline. "Hooker with a Penis" has no prog elements. It is a straightforward angst metal song with witty lyrics and a great singalong chorus. "Jimmy" is a rather simple song that builds up into a intense climax. "Push it" is a long prog track. The first 4 minutes are normal heavy music. After the music explodes in minute 4, an dark section commences. Is this King Crimson or Tool?? Anyways, this is a very impressive dark atmospheric section with AMAZING bass playing. The song ends in a very heavy moment full of powerful guitar soloing. "Aenima" is a favourite of many. This is the perfect 'anger' song in my opinion and I am glad to hear it in the radio. "Third Eye" is the last song and it is the most experimental of all. This is a highly virtuosic, proggy, psycheledic, and strange track that gives an image of what the next album (lateralus) would sound like. The guitar solos are very unusual and creative, and there are moments full of creativity (I wonder if they used hallucinogens here, or they came up with this highly difficult, yet rewarding piece). Of course, the big climax and most enjoyable part of the album is when Maynard screams his lungs out "'Prying open my third eye!!'" over and over again.

What about the rest? Well .. Useful Idiot is the sound of a footstep I think in a loop : pointless. Message to Harry Manback is better, it has a melodic soft piano and a message full of insults (in Italian). Intermission is the best of fillers : it is really fun to hear a cheap sounding keyboard playing the melodies of 'Jimmy'. 'Die Eier Von Satan' is a Hitler'like figure saying something in German about a recipe (huh?). 'Cesaro' is a disturbing moment that brings the quality of the album down (I hate hearing that baby). Ions (-) is probably not pointless, unless you are not using headphones. It feels like electricity going all around your head and preparing you for the trippy last epic.

1. Stinkfist (8.5/10) 2. Eulogy (9.5/10) 3. H. (8/10) 4. Useful Idiot (0/10) 5. Forty Six & 2 (8/10) 6. Message to Harry Manback (5/10) 7. Hooker With a Penis (7/10) 8. Intermission (6.5/10) 9. Jimmy (7.5/10) 10. Die Eier Von Satan (0/10) 11. Pu[&*!#] (9/10) 12. Cesaro Summability (-5/10) 13. Ćnema (8.5/10) 14. (-) Ions (6/10) 15. Third Eye (9.5/10)

My Grade : B+

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars Man, how to describe this? Well, there only can be a try: "Aenima" is a dark, haunting and a ultra-heavy progressive rock album with the experimental edge of King Crimson here and there and combinate it to one uncomparable overall-sound, which is a state of art record, and was (and still is) an important milestone in innovative rock/metal music in the mid 90's. If I would describe the single tracks on this work of genius (with exception of the filling throw-aways "Useful Idiot", "Die Eier von Satan" (funny German title though), "Cesaro Summability" and "(-) Ions", which steal the album one point, which would have been the full score), it would take too long and no one would spend the time to read it. It doesn't make sence to read about TOOL, you must listen to them, over and over again! The music here seems cold and untouchable after the first listen, but after several repeated excitement about it, the pure scary art shows off with all it's might and hidden backdoors, which you only can open, when you dive inside of this deep black hole. A black monolith - inside it you can feel the hammering puls of pure life, which finally set one free with an optimistic solution, how it only can be, when such artists make it to their exercise to give people through their art inner strenght to take destiny with a positive mind about life in their own hand. This is musically greatness! "Lateralus",..."Aenima" and "Lateralus" again (in change). Intense, hell-ish intense!

album rating: 9/10 points = 92 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Review by Prog-jester
4 stars Maybe,it's not as genius as Lateralus,but it's great anyway.TOOL has combined different influences to create their own style...I just CAN'T compare them to any other band or performer - TOOL is TOOL,that's it!!! Amazing psychedelic sound,heavy riffs,weird lyrics and unique band's charisma gives you an hour and 17 minutes of pleasure.The best tracks here are "Stinkfist"(what a video!),"Eulogy" and "Jimmy".Freaky intermissions just make this CD sound incredibly funny...and if you'll find yourself laughing at the middle of the album,don't be afraid - it's normal reaction of your brain collaborating with UNnormal activity!! ! If it's not prog,then whar is it?
Review by NJprogfan
4 stars Having purchased TOOL's latest album not too long ago and giving it a good listen, I was a bit disappointed. Just in case I was losing my feel for the boys, I threw on this album. Suffice it to say, it blows away 10,000 Days in ever aspect. Jones guitar is all over the place and powerful, (unlike 10,000 Days where it just seems plain and boring). Justin's bass has snap and bite. Carey's drumming I will admit seems better on 10,000 Days but he's a monster still. I leave the best for last. Maynard's singing/shouting/growling is just monsterous! From the opening salvo, "Stinkfist", to "Hooker With A Penis", (which I believe is his best), to the title track with it's absolute hilarious lyrics, all the way to the metal/prog masterpiece "Third Eye", 'AEnima' is a blast of anger, humor and down-and-out creepiness. There's an urgency that I feel is missing on their latest, plus I believe when it comes to the signature TOOL sound, this is the album. Is it a masterpiece of prog/metal? No, "Lateralus" belongs in that category. There's still a tendency to ape a few Balck Sabbath riffs on this one. But, it still rocks the sh*t out of most metal. It also moves your bones with a grin on your face. How metal albums can do that?
Review by AtLossForWords
5 stars Throughout the careers of legendary bands which have broken more into the mainstream than others, a reviewer or listener can often find one true masterpiece from a band. An album who's quality soars far above that of the rest, an album that recieves a similar amount of praise from both casual and dedicated listeners of the band. For Tool, 1996's Aenima is such an album.

Aenima is a work that has been unmatched by Tool. There are so many unique creative aspects to this album that simply cannot be repated. The ambient tracks like "Ion" and "Cesaro Summability" are among the most creative of any band, certainly in progressive metal. What is even more interesting are segue tracks such as "Message to Harry Manback", the organ-happy "Intermission", and the bizarre "Die Eier Von Satan".

I suppose the composed music for this album is good too. On Aenima a listnener will be introduced to unique sonic soundscapes. The chordal harmonies and the harmonies between the instruments are not unique, but inventive. Tool doens't stick to the classical rules of how to harmonize a melody, but rather uses odd and misplaced intervals to bring character to a song.

The timbre is one of the darkest possible. As diverse as the harmonies are, there is nothing that is particularly bright. The organ on "Intermission" is as joyful as this album gets. The relentless dark atmosphere never fails to hit a listener in a different way with each listen, Aenima is a new universe of dark emotions.

Danny Carey is one of the few drummers in the world that non-musicians/non- drummers can appreciate to the fullest extent. Never had I been able to believe that such a thing as "melodic drums" existed. That being said, Carey is the musical force that brings this album's excellence to be. Carey has unmatched creativity on his toms. He can roll with amazing proficiency coordinating with his bass drum in unique ways, but more importantly he can use single toms to mimic some of the bass melodies throughout the album. Carey is a musician that has almost equal musical possibilities on a drumset as a percussionist has on vibes. That may be a bit of a stretch, but the drumming on this album is nothing short of creative brilliance.

Justin Chancellor only excentuates the rythymnic prowess of this band. Like Carey, Chancellor is playing a traditionally rythymnic instrument and using it to make up the main melodies of the songs. Chancellor's part of "H" is an absolute masterpiece. He uses such a consistent high range throughout the body of the song is parts and guitarist Adam Jones' intervals may even cross easily fooling a non-musician that it is guitar and not bass playing some of the main melodies of this song.

Adam Jones is anything but a leader player. That by no means infers that he isn't a candidate to be considered one of the very best rythymnic players in music. What is impressive about Jones is the chordal harmonies he creates. Jones is able to use inventive chordal intervals to give the songs the most unique character imagineable. The overdubs from Jones are not only rich, but tight. Jones is one of the few guitarists that can build a wall of sound from an orchestra full of guitar tracks, but sound as tight as a single take. Another trait Jones posesses is the ability to use the higher range of his guitar in ambient ways, not exactly feedback, but the use of slides and long tones in combination with effects to do the most bizarre musical sounds.

Maynard James Keenan is the popular vocalist of the band. His vocal abilities are perfect for the band. He isn't the most prolific singer, but the range of voices he uses fit any type of emotion Tool would attempt to communicate. Keenan's strongest musical trait is his inhuman sustain. Keenans sustain last for phrases at a time, something more than difficult to accomplish. "Third Eye" is the most comprehensive showcase of all of Keenan's abilties. Melodic, aggressive, soft, loud, short, or long Keenan can vocalize any way he needs to.

The production is as good as the band. The clarity of the drums and the tightness of the guitars are the first things which come to mind. The definition of Carey's toms is what impresses me the most. The micing and mixing is able to capture more of the pitch of Carey's drums than the tone. Something which is a lost art in metal production. The tightness of the guitars is also worth mention and I said earlier. I'm not fluent with whetherTool uses digital editing to get these guitar tracks so tight, but the abscence of ambient noise and noise "hangover" is unbelieveably perfect. No notes ever leak into any unintended beats. The bass is a little dirty for my taste, but when listening to such a great player like Chancellor, the tone is a minor taste issue. The vocals are mediocre. There isn't enouch harmonization to tell how well the mix for the vocals were, but the important thing is that the vocals fit the music.

I know I don't need to say how many stars this album is. All you have to do is read the first or second paragraph.

Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars By far Tool's best album. Lateralus is good, but it never had the intrigue that this album does. This album was one of the first that proved to a more general public that heavy does not mean evil, and that heavy can be indeed quite good and interesting.

Unfortunately, Tool is often seen as a band judged by its followers, who are mostly angst filled teens who feel people don't get them. Don't let the fan base discourage you too much. Tool, while pretentious to a degree, is very much keen on what they are doing. The best here is found in Manyard and drummer Carey, both seen as cornerstones in their fields. Carey provides not only outstanding technique, but quality choices in patterns and style. Manyard's voice is one of the most easily recognizable and powerful in music.

Well ahead of its time, and the band for that matter, Aenima is a remarkable and groundbreaking album. Everything falls into place here, one of the best albums of the 90's. 4 and a half stars at a minimum.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Tool's second official studio album (not counting the Opiate EP) was released in 1996 and ultimately would remain my favorite Tool album alongside their most recent album 10,000 Days (released 10 years later). 15 tracks with 5 of them short little interludes, Ćnima would contain a few mammoth tracks in Pu[&*!#] and Third Eye, as well as the exceedingly heavy Stinkfist and the magnificent hate piece Ćnima to go along with it. The only thing that really hurts this albums overall score is the meaningless interludes, which vary from industrial cooking recipes to the sound of a record skipping, but other than that it is 77 minutes of dark and intense musical/lyrical bliss that I think no fan of prog metal should go without. Although the band hadn't really hit their peak yet (their real claim to fame would come from Lateralus, although I don't like that album as much as the albums bookended by it), this album is a testament that Tool were here and are here to stay.

Opening with the magnificent Stinkfist, from the get go you know you're in for a ride. Powerful and grungy guitar riffing combined with the distorted and clean vocals of Maynard Keenan all come together with the stellar drumming of Danny Carey and the punchy bass of Justin Chancellor. As the "hit" (if you can call it that) of the album, it opens the album with one of the better overall pieces. Eulogy opens with clicking percussion from Carey and the instrumental section (which is quite extensive) in the beginning really shows the atmospheric qualities of the group. Jones' psychedelic guitar phrases match up with the subtle dancing bass rhythms of Chancellor before they decide to kick in with a main rhythm (and Maynard's heavily compressed and distorted vocal performance). H. opens with a heavily echoed and distorted guitar hammering out chords while the bass plays the main melody until the guitars mellow and turn to a more psychedelic flavoring. It's probably the weakest of the lengthier songs, though, as it is a bit bland overall. Useful Idiot is a 38 second sound collage of a record skipping and adds no new dynamic to the album and fails to show any purpose as well. Forty Six & 2 begins with a great Chancellor bass performance, playing Tool's signature style of ascending and descending single note structures before becoming a grungy nightmare of powerful chord progressions. Fantastic rhythmic sections from Chancellor and Carey and when added with Jones' magnificent progressions as well as the spiteful and powerful vocals from Keenan becomes a fantastic piece in the end. Message to Harry Manback is another interlude piece that utilizes a phone message voice and an underlying piano motif. It's another essentially useless piece although the piano is pretty nice. Following that is the song Hooker With a Penis, a vulgar rocker with some very graphic lyrics from Keenan (who has a penchant for writing graphic lyrics) and a very bitter and angry vocal performance whilst the rest of the group carry on that sentiment with crushingly heavy riff after riff of pure power. Despite the gruesome subject matter it's a nice piece musically. Intermission has a bit of a circus feel with the organ motif essentially being the theme for the following song Jimmy. I think it's another meaningless interlude piece that could have easily been edited to the beginning of Jimmy. It's fun, though, as it shows that Tool could have light hearted pieces amidst the dreary and depressing material.

Jimmy begins with heavy riffing from the bass and guitar and some precision work from Carey before mellowing out for the verses. It's another simplistic piece in the vein of H. but comes off a bit more effectively than that piece in my opinion. Die Eier Von Satan is the closest thing to industrial the band got. With powerful percussion (and guitars) and a consistent 9/8 motif, the song essentially is a recipe for some kind of food chanted in German. It may be mindless filler but I like it. Pu[&*!#] is the first massive piece, clocking in at close to 10 minutes. Powerful riffing and bitter vocals comprise the majority of the song but the instrumental middle section utilizes some clicking percussion and some subtle percussion from Carey to heighten the atmosphere along with an underlying (and later on a lead) guitar break from Jones. It's one of the first truly progressive songs and one of the best. Cesaro Summability is another pointless interlude that's essentially a baby shrieking and it being put through an echo device before becoming meaningless feedback and voices. Ćnima comes next, and is one of the angriest songs they've ever written. Its brutal lyrics and its vastly opinionated subject matter are heightened by a great backing performance on all fronts (especially the riff from Jones in the beginning). It's a superb track with a great chorus and middle section (courtesy of the fantastic drumming of Danny Carey) to go along with it. (-) Ions is the longest of the filler tracks, and it's also one of the most pointless ones. It's essentially 4 minutes of mixed storm noises. The album ends with the behemoth Third Eye, a near 14 minute track that has incredibly heavy riffs and some extremely well written lyrics and some extremely well performed vocals from Keenan. Beginning with a Bill Hicks monologue and Danny Carey imitating a heartbeat, it broods slowly before the vocals come in near the third minute. Keenan's screams and cries mold well with the guitar maelstrom and the consistent rhythm unit work. Throughout the rest of the piece, there are a number of slower and heavy sections and everyone plays wonderfully throughout (especially Jones who solos throughout most of the interludes). The best part though, comes towards the end, when the entire band play a start stop riff while Keenan screams, "Prying open my third eye!". Masterpiece of a song and the perfect album closer.

In the end, a progressive metal fan can't go wrong with this album. It's got a bitter and spiteful feel and the music is relentlessly heavy at times. If you're like me, though, you'll find the interlude tracks pointless at best. Highly recommended and if you're starting with Tool get this album first. 4.5/5.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars

Play it LOUD with a decent stereo set ..!

Two gentlemen whom I consider being responsible for introducing TOOL in to my life. First, as you know it because I always put his name whenever I review any album of the band, is Rick Wakeman. Yes he talked also with me during his concert tour in Jakarta, Indonesia on February 2002. Second, is my i-Rock! colleague, Icann (Adler Siahaan), who persistently promoted this band to me and according to him Ćnima is the best album from Tool. Thanks to Rick and Icann for "showing me the hill" (lending this phrase from Fish of Marillion). As for me personally, the music of Tool is attractive and one of my favorite bands, indeed. I started my journey with Tool through their latest album "10,000 Days" which I have already reviewed as well at this site.

Having gone backward from listening to Ten Thousand Days to earlier album, Lateralus and now Ćnima I can confirm that the music of Tool has been consistent in terms of style as from the three albums I can identify very close similarities from one album to another. It does not mean that the music is stagnant. I believe there are examples of bands who have stayed consistent with their music direction. Take example of IQ which has been pretty consistent from its debut until the latest album "Dark Matter". You might consider as well Pendragon, Pallas who have been consistent thus far. Tool has successfully blended the elements of energy, drive, enthusiasm, ethnic, passion, sound effects and dynamic instrument playing into an excellent music in cohesive whole. Listen this album in relax way without any prejudgment that they should sound like any group of your favorite - you would find a joy of music delivered by Tool.

The album kicks off wonderfully with a sound effect that remarks the commencement of opening track Stinkfist (5:11). You can hear that bass is tightly played, combined beautifully with drumwork. Vocal enters in a distant voice style followed with screaming style is performed beautifully by Maynard James Keenan. Guitar is played in distortion style while the music create great groove typical of Tool music. The music interlude gives chances to drums and distorted guitar work to enter nicely during this interlude. It's so rockin'! I remember the music of New King Crimson.

Eulogy (8:28) starts with excellent exploration of sounds accompanied with floating bass lines and percussion. Drum enters slowly with guitar riffs and rhythm. The music then blasts in high energy with screaming vocal of Maynard James Keenan. I do enjoy the guitar riffs / rhythm especially when it's inserted with sound effects. Bass guitar demonstrates its role combined with sound effects. Yes, I can find there are repeated chords but the band has brilliantly inserted different textures into the music. This has made listening to eight minute duration of this track is enjoyable thing.

H. (6:07)brings the music into slower part at its opening. The combination of drums, percussion and bass is really nice especially it's covered with chanting voice of Maynard James Keenan. Justice Chancelor also plays excellent bass guitar and I think his playing style is one of keys in determining Tool music characteristic.

Forty Six & 2 (6:04) starts off with floating bass line textured with guitar effects, male chanting, percussion in a style of music that reminds me to Peter Gabriel's "The Rhythm of The Heat" from his fourth album "Security". In fact it's not a male chanting but Maynard is singing like he is doing a narration. What follows is a kind of progressive metal music in the vein of Dream Theater's "The Great Debate" from "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" album. The vocal part projects an image of energy and it might demonstrate anger.

Hooker With a Pxnxs (4:33) sounds like continuing the stream of music of "Forty Six & 2" after a close to two minutes bridge of "Message to Harry Manback". Well, I don't know what the lyrics are talking about, really, but I see from the point of view of the music the band produces here. Those of you who like metal music would enjoy the music interlude with guitar solo on top of the music. It's so noisy but I personally enjoy it. This might be because of last week I was preoccupied with many metal music like Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage and In Flames "Come Clarity". So, I can enjoy the ending part.

Intermission (0:56) is a very nice organ solo that serves as a bridge to Jimmy (5:24) which begins with heavy guitar riffs followed with bass and drums to accompany vocal line in mellow style. This time the music is much ambient with great guitar riffs and melodies at the back of the music. I like the singing style that flows and fits nicely with the music from the slow part to heavier ones. Again, the singing style has characterized the music of Tool. It's so obvious. I like the part at approx 2:51 where the music changes its style for a while and returns back to its original style. Oh man, this track is great!

Die Eier Von Satan (2:17) is sound effect exploration and vocal narration - a nice one with "sim salabim .." - that moves the music forward to a long track Pu[&*!#] (9:55) with an intro of long sustain guitar work overlaid with distant vocal singing style. The bass guitar and drums enter to give richness of the intro. Vocal flows naturally with repeated music but with different textures as it moves along. The music moves into crescendo at approximately minute 3 with richer texture and heavier music - exploring the guitar distortion. It suddenly moves into a slow part with ambient style. Guitar fills insert nicely, followed with near-to-whispering vocal line. It's a nice arrangement, I would say. The music then blasts into heavier section with dynamic drum work and guitar distortion. Ćnema (6:39) brings another style of music while maintaining the original characteristic of Tool music. At a glance this song sounds like straight-forward hard rock music. The interlude part with bass guitar as main rhythm section overlaid with guitar effects and dynamic drums is an interesting part for me.

(-) Ions (4:00) represents just totally a sound effect exploration that only the musicians know what they intend to mean with this effect.

Third Eye (13:47) concludes the album with a combination of progressive metal and classic rock music. The guitar solo in the middle of the track is truly stunning - especially listening to the sounds of drums' tom at the background which help elevate the energy of the music. I think this concluding track is quite expressive in nature especially as it can be identified on their exploration of styles which change from one segment to another. The ending part reminds me to the King Crimson's "21s Century of Schizoid Man" especially on distorted vocal line.


This album is brilliant. The band captures the elements of metal music with heavy riffs and screaming vocal into nice combination of ambient style and hard rock music. Tool music is I think a further creative exploration from New King Crimson music ("Discipline" album onwards) and progressive metal style. This album, altogether with "Lateralus" and "10,000 Days" are highly recommended because all of them are excellent addition of any progressive music collection. Given that you are open mind with heavy side of prog, am pretty sure that you would enjoy this album as it is. Production and sonic quality of the CD are excellent. PLAY IT LOUD with a decent stereo set is my recommendation. Why? You can get the subtleties of this excellent record! A decent stereo set does not necessarily mean an expensive one. Keep on proggin' ..!

Progressively yours, GW

"Do not affraid of growing slöwly - be affraid of only standing still."

Review by laplace
2 stars The band with the world's most misplaced rhythm section strike again and manage to waste upwards of 75 minutes of their - and your - time. The songs are a little longer but the alternate rock influences are omnipresent and overpowering aside from during the transitive link pieces on the album which this reviewer finds preferable to the songs.

Note that "Third Eye" is quite narcotic while both "Hooker with a Penis" and "Forty Six & Two" are good rock anthems, but this album is simply too catchy to be deep, not powerful enough in its riffing to be metal and not concise enough in its message to be philosophically memorable.

Review by el böthy
4 stars Tool´s Aenima would bring them one step closer to their Art-rock status while keeping their alternative and hard elements. The result is heavy and sophisticated without sounding anything like the rest of the Metal or Prog scene of that time. As a matter of fact, to say that Tool is a Metal band is not exactly right, as they don't fall in the same category of Metal as bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or even the prog bands like Dream Theater, Fates Warning and oh so many more. While the majority of this bands tend to be fast, Tool is often slow, dense and atmospheric, which puts them aside from those other bands. Yet, the music is so heavy at times (most of the times) that to put them in the Metal category is understandable; in fact Tool would be one of the most influential acts for latter metal bands.

Aenima is also the album that would put them where they are now when it comes to sales and fame, winning even a Grammy (which the band didn't go to pick up any ways...). Tool was no longer the best kept secret of the underground music fan base; Tool had stepped in in the mainstream culture. Now, all this seems like a big contradiction, how can a band that pushes the envelop become mainstream? Well...go figure! Maybe it was the videos in MTV, maybe it was that breeze of fresh air after grunge got really predictable, maybe it was cause Tool had something to say, in the exact moment, in the exact time, or maybe it was cause Aenima is one hell of an album... or maybe it was all that. It doesn't matter that much now, the thing is Aenima was a revolutionary album for it´s time, and stands today as one of the best of not only their career but also from the ´90 ...and let's be fair, all time.

The album starts with "Stinkfist", a great opener with Adam Jones typical riffs and Maynard Keenan´s excellent lyrics and calm, yet disturbing vocals. The next track might very well be the best of the album; I´m talking about "Eulogy", a long song with some of Keenan´s best lyrical work to date (the lyrics might talk about something different for every one, but I see them as being a critic to those religious preachers that talk to talk, but don't walk to walk)...excellent. Other stand out songs are the incredible "Forty six & 2" with that hypnotic bass riff, the angry "Hooker with a penis", which might not be the best representative of the band's new Art´rock status...but this song is great for me, and every time Keenan screams "Fuuuck you buddy" I can't help but scream with him. "Aenema" (which for a reason I don´t know yet is not written like the album tittle "Aenima"...) is another great track, with Jones opening riff and Danny Carey´s great drumming (as always) and Keenan singing about a bid storm that will wash away the street's of Los Angeles city and advises the people form that city ot...learn to swim. Other tracks like "H", "Jimmy", "Pu[&*!#]" and the epic "Third eye" are all very good too, with the last two being maybe among their best, but for some reason I'm not particularly found of them... still they are great songs. Sadly, not everything about this album is perfect. There are too many tracks like "A message to Harry Manback" and "Die Eier von Satan" which aren´t songs, that get old and boring after a few listening.

It´s not the bands masterpiece, the next album, the mighty Lateralus would be it, but it´s a great album and a big forward in the right direction.

Review by evenless
4 stars %*!#ing good TOOL album !

How should one start reviewing a TOOL cd? I got their CD "Lateralus" first, mainly because all the great reviews on this site. After that I got Aenima, and now I am even wondering which of them I like best. They're both awesome, but I think I prefer Aenima!

I was kind of reluctant to get into TOOL as I usually prefer the "lighter side" of Prog metal, like Riverside and Opeth. I thought that TOOL would be too harsh for my ears: I was wrong! Having listened to bands like Metallica, Van Halen, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden a lot in the eighties and nineties TOOL is a band I can easily relate to. Maybe this is a weird connection, but I personally feel those band share the same kind of "heaviness" and they surely all have a lot of energy to pass on to the listener.

About the Aenima CD. The CD kicks off with Stinkfist, which also was their first single and their first music video. Because the obscure title of the track, which could refer to fist-%*!#ing, the track is also referred to as "track #1". This TOOL video are directed by the band's guitarist Adam Jones, who had previous experience in art direction and animation. All of TOOL's video's have a very dark theme and reminds me of some of H.R. Giger's work (the Swiss painter, sculptor, designer who also designed Alien) and also of some movies by the movie director David Lynch. The reason why I mention their video's is that I really think you should not only listen to TOOL's music, but also let the music be accompanied by their weird video's. It just makes it more complete.

The second track of the album "Eulogy" is probably my favourite. It starts out with some experimental noises played in a great melody after a while accompanied by floating bass and drums. The song really starts to "kicks ass" around the 2 minute time mark when the guitar riffs are brought into the song and when Maynard James Keenan starts singing through a vocoder, not long after which he starts screaming the chorus. After 05:00 minutes the song slows down again and we are treated by some of Maynard's fine singing. The singing good from gentle to very aggressive. You can hear the aggressiveness build up in the words as well. I especially love this part: Will you? Will you now? Would you die for me? Don't you [%*!#]in' lie. (Don't you step out of line! 3x) Don't you [%*!#]in lie. Awesome!

The third track "H." also has a great vibe to it. Speculation has surrounded the song "H." The "meaning" of this song has not been detailed by the band, as they do not regularly comment on such things, but it has been stated that it is not about heroin. Several of the songs are just interludes that connect to longer songs. These segues are "Useful Idiot", "Message to Harry Manback", "Intermission", "Die Eier Von Satan", "Cesaro Summability", and "(-) Ions".

"Die Eier Von Satan" is quite a disturbing song, because we hear a German speech, accompanied by the sound of some hydraulic press and a cheering crowd that increases in volume, which makes it all sound like a militant German rant or Nazi rally. However, if you listen to the lyrics closely, it actually is the summing up of ingredients of how to make cookies, without eggs. Now I actually see some kind of humor in this song but I really didn't like it at first.

"Message to Harry Manback" is also some kind of weird phone-message about a Latino guy wishing an American guy some of the worst things that could possibly happen to him. Weird!

"Pu[&*!#]", with its nearly ten minutes running time, another highlight of this album.

Last remarkable song of Aenima is its title track. The lyrics of "Aenima" are about Southern California being all washed beneath the surface of the sea after some kind of disaster. It seems like Maynard James Keenan hates LA and wants to flush it all away. If we look deeper at what's behind those lyrics is seems to me that the band is just outing its disapproval of the "emptiness" we have in our lives today. The more we work, the more we have, the less our lives become worth. We should go "back to basics" some times to really take the most out of our lives and learn how to estimate its true value again.

Aenima - cleansing of the soul - is a great Progressive? Metal album!

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Nu Prog movement begins.

In 1996 this was Tool's best work, following their heavy and disgruntled Undertow (1993), and though they've made much better albums since, this one is still worth mentioning. Still made great my Keenan's grumbling vocals this album has a lot of great songs, but in my opinion, a bit too much filler. Tracks like STINKFIST and HOOKER WITH A PENIS still feel like the old band, grinding out heavy music, while others such as H., 46 & 2, and EULOGY would see the band hit a more prog direction. The obvious standout here is the 14-minute epic THIRD EYE, which codas the album with some great, and haunting, work done by each member.

This is likely not a great album to listen to if you're more used to the likes of Yes, but for those that enjoy King Crimson or VDGG this is kind of similar, except about 20 years later... However, Tool has always been, and always will be an aquired taste. All that put aside this is a good album that is quite an enjoyable listen, 3.5 stars.

Review by 1800iareyay
4 stars Undertow was a surprise commercial hit, despite the band's iconoclast attitude (yes, they had music videos, but they did nothing to highlight the band, only the music). Most bands would have used this as a springboard and release another album quickly to satisfy the new contingent of fans. However, Tool is an unusual band. Three years passed, but the album that ensued was well worth the wait. Ćnima shows a considerable step up from the band artistically, musically, and lyrically. Undertow had thoughtful lyrics and art rock scribbled all over it, but it lacked real complexity. Ćnima changed all that. Greatly aiding things is the addition of new bassist Justin Chancellor, who brings a considerable amount of skill to compliment Danny's insane drumming.

The album is full of highlights. Stinkfist opens the album, and already it ignites controversy with it's title alone. It's a riffy classic that puts Adam's unsettling guitar at the forefront. Eulogy is the first of many tracks to show off Maynard James Keenan's unique vocal skill, and it also boasts deft lyrics. It also features Danny puling of polyrhythms that would make Bruford proud. H. is where Justin proves he is Tool's classic bassist, as he takes on the role of a sort of art rock John Entwistle, using the bass as a lead while the guitar is used for rhythm. 46 & 2 has a killer bassline and the vocals are delivered as a sort of narration. Fun bit of trivia: listen to Dream Theater's This Dying Soul or Repentance; one of the guitar lines is nearly identical to this, so even DT takes cues from Tool! Hooker with a Penis deals with the media and Tool's undying hatred for them, considering they have corrupted rock and made bands into sell outs. Pu[&*!#] is a softer song that provides a great contrast to the aggressive "Hooker." It features some of Maynard's best vocals ever. Ćnema takes it lyrical cues from a rant from master satirist Bill Hicks (he influences a lot of the lyrics on the album) about how Los Angeles is a city full of fake airheads that should fall into he sea. This is a showcase for Adam's rhythms and Danny's incredible drumming. Third Eye opens with an excerpt from one of Bill Hicks' rants (as if his presence wasn't evident enough on this disc) about the use of drugs. This is probably Adam's finest hour, and this song should be presented to those who don't consider him a capable guitarist.

If you like Bill Hicks, you'll love this album's lyrics (though they capture the anger without Bill's humor). It is more immediately enjoyable than Lateralus, though the filler tracks here are far inferior to those on Lateralus, where it all seems to make sense. This is a classic of modern progressive music, and how this (like every other Tool album) became a hit is beyond me, since it contains all the uncompromising noise experimentations of modern Crimson. Lateralus is the true masterpiece, but proggies can't go wrong with this excellent release.

Grade: B+

Review by obiter
5 stars My terrific first encounter with Tool. I have to admit being very pleasantly suprised at the time.

The controlled dampened driving chords of Stinkfist contrast with the constrained and melodic vocals. The undeniable attraction of the music is rooted in this contrast: dark and brooding on the one side overlaid by a gentle and and measured ; of course the storm is unleashed in bursts. The vocal intensity when this happens reminds me of Gary Stringer from Reef.

Thoughtful arrangement, precise selection of instrumental sounds and above all the constant feeling of a band tightly controlling straining power. Too many pure metal outfits over indulge in blasting the listener: undoubted talented musicaship is lost in a raging storm of confusion. With Tool the listener can sense all that energy but it is released at just the right time with just the right amount. it's a delicate balance and one which is difficult to find.

If you class this as prog then it's an excellent album. If you reckon it's too metal ... give it a listen you may be suprised. Since it's classified as prog and in prog metal within this genre its 5 stars.

Review by Dim
4 stars A step above 10000 days IMO.

If you know anything about me on the forums, it's probably that I love Yes, Post rock, and Tool! Being the die hard Tool fan that I am, it must sound pretty lame that I just got this album about a month and a half ago, well the wai was worth ending the as-of- now Tool discography with this bold album. I have no idea what people were supposed to think back in the mid nineties when they first heard Aenima, a vulgar, blasphemous album, contrary to the grudge/ thrash metal scene that had been dominating for about five years thanks to Pantera and Nirvana. Before I discuss more history I should probably give you my review of the album.

The opener, Stinkfist, is a great song, almost catchy to the point of a radio signal, complete with your Adam Jones simple drop D riff, intense drumming, and very deep lyrics. The song really picks up near the end when Maynard is absolutely belting his words while the band is messing between stops and pummeling go's. The next song Eulogy is very controversial, starting with nothing but percussion, then slowly building to another simple riff. Afterwords, Maynard sings about someone having a lot of nothing to say, further in the song you realize that it's most likely Jesus Christ that he is bashing mercifully. I've never agreed with God bashing, given my Religious standards, but I once heard a fellow progger say that this song was actually meant to bash the creator of Scientology, I have no idea really. The music itself is great, absolutely mind blowing, sounds exactly like Lateralus, except the bad language, but that just adds to the song if you were to ask me. H. is a highly emotional song, and seemingly doesn't seem to touch other Tool lovers as myself. Starting with a much different kind of riff, that almost sounds like a REALLY distorted bass, the song doesn't really build til the very end, cause it's all about the lyrics. Honestly I have no idea what the song is about, but everything is sung so passionately, and at the climax Maynard alone sings "I DONT MIND", and just knocks me off my feet. Forty six and 2 is a song that clicks with time, starting with another different kind of riff, but soon changes to the arch typical Tool sound, with a groovy bass line and probably Carey's best drum performance on the album, topping all this off with lyrics about a shadow... Message to Harry manback, filler, filler about some guy sending some voice message about how much he hates some other guy cause of his American tendencies, lots of language. Lets keep the vulgarity train going with the greatly titled Hooker with a penis! A fast and musically dull song (besides the awesome bass line), all about You being the f*cking man, and about me being the f*cking man. Really, there is not a lot to say about that song. Intermission, filler. Jimmy is a mellower song, filled with chilled lyrics and chilled guitar, it kind of reminds me of H., but hasn't really clicked with me yet, so I wont give this song any kind of harsh judgement. I honestly skip the next rack, die eir von satan, creepy, in a different language, has satan in the title, not my favorite format for songs. Pu[&*!#] is a different story, another emotional song, with a long time to progress through it's slow build. After a short climax the song go's into a very low point where only vocals and very quiet bass and drums are keeping the song afloat, and of course the song picks up, and an intense jam session leads the song into the ninth minuete then ends. *** FILLER TRACK***. The song Aenima, easily the most brutal, all about how Maynard say's he's tired of all this bullsh*t thats going around, and really wouldnt mind having the apocolypse come. Awesome opening riff, awesome vulgar lyrics, and intense basslines, even with a relatively soft part, previously unknown to Tool music. *** FILLER TRACK***. The longest track on the album, third eye is fast, slow, and everything in between, really it's kind of hard for me to concentrate on this song too long. Overall, good music and good lyrics in the song, just cant elaborate too well.

Well, getting through the album in it's entirety is an incredibly hard task considering how long it is ( a flaw that Tool cant seem to shake), and with just the sheer intensity and challenge that the music provides. Besides lacking a certain evenness in both a category's of music and lyrics, the album is a solid 4 stars.

Review by The Pessimist
4 stars Finally, after a good dozen listens, I've gained the confidence and opinion I need to review this album.

This is a masterpiece for metalheads, however I do not think that all proggers will take to this album: it just seems too aggressive to be that. However, being a metalhead myself, I find this an absolutely stunning album to listen to. Maynard James Keenan delivers some really memorably brilliant vocals as usual, however he seems a fraction mellower than in the album's successor, Lateralus. Bass and Guitar are tight as usual on any Tool album, and teamed with Danny's incredibly rhythmic, tight and downright marvellous drumming, make the dream rhythm section. Danny's drumming is actually better on this album than in any of their others: if you are a drummer yourself, then this is album of the century for you. Forget Portnoy's unimaginative and banal DT work, Danny rinses the floors with him!

Now to the songs: The highlights are, without a doubt Eulogy, Forty Six & 2, Ćnema and Third Eye. Eulogy for the amazing build up, 46 & 2 for it's utter listenability and the outstanding drum solo, Ćnema once again for the melody and brilliant drumming and Third Eye for its raw and unique aggression. The latter is the perfect fuse of prog and metal, and Maynard's vocals are simply breathtaking. the rest of the album is bluntly just good, no other explanation needed.

Overall, I will give this album a 4star rating. Two things are holding me back from giving this the masterpiece honour: one, it isn't as consistantly perfect as Lateralus, and I have high standards for masterpiece albums; two, this isn't actually THAT proggy in my opinion, and although it would undoubtedly be a 5star on MetalArchives, this is ProgArchives and doesn't deserve that much credit here. An excellent addition to any prog collection however.

Review by Prog Leviathan
5 stars Despite the fact that you'll hear them on alternative radio and their legions of fans are, in the majority, angry teen gutter-punks, I must proclaim that: with this album-- Tool IS progressive metal!

Even more than a decade old, Aenima has lost none of its dark, brooding edge; it still remains amazingly fresh and unique, with its sinister assault to the senses and emotions. Very few albums have such a monstrous combination of sonic experimentation, instrumental proficiency, compositional songwriting, and memorable performances as this one does-- every track on here is a winner. From shattering choruses to shadowy ephemerality, the band proves that they are masters of their craft, with no one member of the band stealing the spotlight. Keenan's lyrics are as smart as they come, while his voice demonstrates wide range and power. Carrey's drums are deservedly praiseworthy, and Jones/Chancellor a like evil magicians with their guitars-- eschewing solos in favor of atmosphere.

The result, is a black tapestry of emotion for the listener to sublimate their own with; nothing purges anger better than Tool! Highly recommended to people who think this kind of music isn't for them.

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I think this band deserves all the praise that's heaped upon them. While this album may at times be a little disturbing and graphic, the instrumental work is heavy, complex, dark and at times straight forward like a punch in the face. Great vocals and lyrics from Maynard. I like the 6 experimental tracks that begin with the fourth song "Useful Idiot" and then appear after every odd numbered track (6, 8,10,12 and 14). This album is dedicated to comedian Bill Hicks who can be heard doing his stand up work at the start of "Third Eye". Interesting that Alex Lifeson in an interview with "Guitar Legends" says he listened to this cd over and over, "I don't do that very often" he says. Alex also says "Tool have an interesting, intelligent approach to song construction and lyrics." He goes on to praise Adam Jones and lists the song "Third Eye" as one of his all time favourites.

"Stinkfist" opens the album with some bass and feedback before we are hit with a ton of bottom end. Vocals join in. Check out the bass after 2 1/2 minutes ! Some good headbanging moments on this one. "Eulogy" opens with tapping sounds as percussion comes in around 1 1/2 minutes. It's building. Guitar and drums 2 minutes in followed by vocals. It's built ! I like the way they contrast the heavy sections with the really heavy passages (haha). Scorching guitar solo 7 1/2 minutes in. "H." is dark and heavy to begin with. It settles as reserved vocals come in. This sounds so good. It kicks into a higher gear after 2 1/2 minutes. Hell has broken loose 5 minutes in ! It calms down again. "Useful Idiot" sounds like pulsating static that's getting louder. "Forty Six & 2" again sounds so amazing with the bass and low end sound. They're kicking it hard 2 minutes in. This is awesome ! Adam fires off some guitar fire before 3 minutes. Danny goes to work 4 1/2 minutes in. What an ending ! "Message To Happy Manback" is such a funny title. Pretty much spoken words throughout as an immigrant rants against the USA for sending him back home. "Hooker With A Penis" is on the other hand a disturbing title. Grinding guitar turns into a wall of sound quickly. Maynard spits out the lyrics. Check out the bass ! An unbridled velocity of fury 3 1/2 minutes in. "Intermission" features a keyboard melody with some organ.The keyboard melody is copied by a heavy guitar melody to start off the song "Jimmy". Nice. It settles quickly as vocals and a lot of bottom end come in. Grinding guitar 3 minutes in. A crushing soundscape follows.

"Die Eier Von Satan" means "The eggs of satan" in German. We hear this guy speaking in German giving us a recipe as the crown cheers in the background. Funny. In the beginning heavy industrial sounds are going on. Cool. "Pu[&*!#]" opens with grinding guitar as vocals come in and drums pound away. A calm after 5 minutes. It's great the way this song gets so powerful then lets up only to crash in again. Absolute rage after 9 minutes. "Cesaro Summability" opens with baby sounds that turn experimental. "Aenima" makes me shout "Oh yeah !" This is heavy duty man. The bass and drums are driving this bus right into hell ! "(-) Ions" is a 4 minute soundscape of what sounds at first like an atom bomb going off with the accompanying winds that go on and on with hurricane force. "Third Eye" is the almost 14 minute closer. After (and during) the humerous bit from Bill we get a heavy soundscape. Check out the guitar 2 minutes in as deep bass and drums throb. More power 4 minutes in as Maynard screams. Awesome sound 6 minutes in that becomes explosive. A calm 8 minutes in with spoken words. The storm is back 9 minutes in. More fantastic guitar 12 minutes in as we get more slabs of heavy sounds.

This really goes far beyond the Alternative rock music that existed when this came out in 1996. So complex and progressive, yet it has that Alternative attitude, sound and anger. By the way thankyou evenless for sending me a legitimate copy of the cd.

Review by ProgBagel
2 stars Tool - Aenima 2.5 stars

With every album Tool puts out creates a new scar that carries on with their music for the rest of their career. From the debut album 'Undertow', the track 'Disgustipated' was a terrible track with 6 minutes of repetition followed by a nine minute mix of noise, silence and useless dribble. That carried over and seriously plagued Aenima.

It was pretty nice to see how in 3 years this band dropped the thrash metal and added a new brand of atmosphere and alternative metal to their music. 'Stinkfist', the opening track starts the album off beautifully. The heavy parts and the slow, hypnotic effect work well here and Maynard carries his voice through the track beautifully. 'Stinkfist' set the stage for many of their future big tracks.

'Eulogy' was a very boring track that didn't really lead anywhere. It had some really slow parts that were disrupted with heavy breaks. The problem was it just repeated so many times that the heaviness 'surprise' factor was just ruined. The guitar solo was also pretty pathetic, maybe one or two notes hit, covered up completely by effects.

'H' was a really nice track that does not get a lot of attention. It was a slow one that produced a nice hypnotic effect. A nice 'Discipline'-like guitar riff thrown in that always manages to stick out to the listener. Hearing a weird guitar pattern like that added well to the effect they were trying to achieve.

'Forty-Six and two' is a very popular track, but to me is a song with potential completely ruined and destroyed. The opening bass riff is nice, but what else needs to be heard? The guitar copies the riffs and plays it lower. During the verse Adam Jones might play it up a little higher and come back down during the chorus. Can someone explain how the exact same riff for six minutes is exciting? Meshuggah is able to get a riff down and create innumerable changes to it to get things more exciting. That's what separates high musicians like those from Tool. This repetition in the song was another scar to plague Tool forever.

Now, here is where things get utterly nasty.

The next seven tracks are some of the biggest pieces of trash I have heard in music, bottom of the trash. It's amazing how they came up with a two good songs, maybe three and then can go for nearly half an hour of producing nothing but garbage. This 'black area' is where you can turn the volume down on the computer and turn up the volume on the TV.

'Aenima' saves the album from going completely downhill. Jones throws down a pretty neat riff followed by some cool lyrics by Maynard attacking the L.A. area people and celebrities. No, the song isn't about finding yourself, Tool fan boys, just talking about Los Angeles. There is no 'deeper' purpose; you just got a nice trip after that hit.

Followed by another useless track that tops even the seven before 'Aenima'.

'Third Eye' is by far my favorite Tool track. I still can't believe they copied one of the riffs from 'Swamp Song' and stretched it into a 13 minute song. Even my favorite Tool track has to come with a huge flaw.. This produces the most hypnotic effect that they try to achieve. Followed by some insightful lyrics, which only Maynard can understand, because the sense you can make out of it is not even worth trying. This has a few heavy breaks that keep the song interesting.

It is easy to see why this band is popular. Most popular bands have a target audience that does not know what an album sounds like, that is beautifully from beginning to end, rather than albums, such as this, which has maybe 3 or 4 songs that are good. You never hear about anything else on this album besides 3 or 4, yet people will easily slap 5 stars onto this, looking away from those useless tracks that or indeed on here.

Wait for a greatest hits album that Tool will likely put out, when they run out of money.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Ćnima is the second full length studio album from american experimental rock/ metal act Tool. I really enjoy their debut album Undertow and Ćnima is IMO an even better and more mature album from Tool. I was introduced to Tool in the mid-nineties by a couple of bandmates who was devoted fans of Tool ( they also loved Primus who was one of the other big names on the experimental rock/ metal scene in the nineties). My two friends played drums and bass respectively and when you listen to this album and Tool´s music in general it´s very obvious why a drummer and a bassist would love Tool´s music.

Tool´s music benefits greatly from their excellent rythm section and the music is generally very rythmic. Another dominant feature in Tool´s music is the dynamics. Great contrasts between soft and subtle parts and heavy loud and angry parts. The heavy parts sometimes resembling explotions of anger and the soft parts can be seen as quiet before the storm. The mood of the music can be compared to repressed anger. Maynard James Keenan is a very emotional singer.

There are many great songs on Ćnima. The albums opener Stinkfist which is also the song with the most memorable chorus is a great song and the next song Eulogy really shows Tool´s rythmic abilities. Great progressive rock track that one. My two favorites here are Forty Six & 2 and the energetic and hilarious Hooker with a Penis. Third Eye who ends the album is a great experimental rock track that features samples with comedian Bill Hicks from his Dangerous and Relentless albums. Most notable is his comments on musicians drug abuse and how it has influenced their music.

The musicinship is excellent. Tool has a distinct sound that no one comes close to replicating. There has been a lineup change as Paul D'Amour has been replaced by new bassist Justin Chancellor.

The production is great. Pleasant and very professional. Deep and warm.

Ćnima is one of the most important albums from the experimental rock/ metal scene in the nineties and it was the album that cemented Tool´s leading position on that scene. I don´t listen to Tool much these days but both Undertow and Ćnima comes out of the shelf on occasion and they are always a great listen that reminds me of my youth. I was considering giving Ćnima 5 stars but as it has lost a bit of it´s magic for me as the years has passed I´ll rate it 4 stars. It´s very recommended though for people into rythmically and dynamically challenging rock/ metal.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Aenima is one of the darkest, most sinister prog-metal albums from these neo-progenitors of the craft.

It gets a little too dark at times, particularly the over abundance of expletives, and the venomous spoken pieces that spew forth anger and bitterness in torrents. There are some great tracks amongst all the filth such as 'Forty 6 and 2', 'Jimmy', 'Pu[&*!#]', and 'The Third Eye'. However I was put off by the excessive vulgar nature of the lyrics, and unnecessary undertones of nastiness, and even the air of gloom it resonates.

I am a huge fan of Tool's succeeding albums 'Lateralus' and '10,000 Days' so this was a huge disappointment. Certainly, dark prog such as Van Der Graaf Generator resonate doom, but it's done with more subtlety that tracks such as Tool's 'Eulogy' and the vulgar title track is over the top liberallyy using the F word. So for the sensitive progger such as myself, 'Aenima' is unappealing, however it may appeal to those who don't mind being verbally assaulted and taking an excursion down the blackened trail and vile underworld that is essentially Tool.

Review by JJLehto
4 stars Ćnima is the continuation of Tool's progression. While this album is a far departure from their first release, Opiate, you can still here there metal roots. Whether it is in some of the heaviness, the use of double bass, or just the overall feel. That being said, the level of musicianship on this album is astounding, especially the drumming of Danny Carey which is just mind blowing. There is also all the Tool standard features like humor, deep lyrics completely open to interpretation, segues, and of course some longs tracks.

This album appears to be dedicated, in a way, to comedian Bill Hicks. There is a picture of him on one of the pieces of cover art with the caption "Bill Hicks. Another Dead Hero". The picture behind where the CD is held is a picture of the Western United States, and when moved around most of California appears to be covered in water. This is a reference to Hicks' comedy when he talks about the day Los Angeles will slide into the ocean. There are also more references to his comedy in some later songs.

Stinkfist is a great opening song, with some great guitar and bass riffs, and some wonderful drumming.

Eulogy is my second favorite song on the album. It begins with a strange percussion sound and lots of strange, yet beautiful background noises. Some drumming comes in after a bit. The first 2 minutes are really unique, and honestly I'm not sure what instruments are making all the sounds. Then the guitar riff comes in and some talk box-esque vocals. The song really kicks in now, with some heavy, groovy, riffs throughout. All the members in this song are great, but the bass and drumming is really stand out.

H. begins really slow, heavy and droning. However, it soon goes into a light section that is amazing. The drumming is cool but Justin on the bass is really breathtaking. He lays down a rhythm bass riff that is just amazing. Overall, a very slow song. The climax is reached towards the last half minute, and just in time! It was getting tough to make it through that song.

Useful Idiot the first segue. This one is filler and not a transition. Nothing but static. Good thing it is only 38 seconds long.

Forty Six & 2 is my favorite song on the album. Starts off with a wicked bass intro soon that Adam Jones guitar comes in. The song continues to gradually build as that awesome bass riff continues with various guitar and great drumming background. Maynard's vocals are perfect in this song as well. The middle section is heavier and bit speedier and please listen for one hell of drum fill and section!

Message to Harry Manback (LOL!) is another segue. It is mostly a sad, piano melody with a gentle ocean background noise. A man, speaking in English and Italian (I think?), starts talking. He is talking to an American, (or Americans in general) and is saying some rather terrible things.

Hooker With a Penis is a pretty heavy, grungy song. It is filled with yelling and angst and it appears Maynard is telling an original Tool fan, (who claims the band has sold out) pretty much f*ck you! Shut up or buy it. Tool may be arsty, but hey....artists like money too.

Intermission is just that. However, I like this one. It has a happy, fun carnival feel!

Jimmy begins with the same melody, but a lot heavier. Listen for some heavy bass in the beginning. A good song, but slow in some parts. However, there is some more amazing drumming here as well.

Die Eier Von Satan is yet another segue. It is extremely heavy and industrial, and played in 9/8. The overall piece sounds like a factory, while a man is speaking in German. The title translates to "The Eggs of Satan" in this case Eier (or eggs) being slang for testicles. However, the actual lyrics are simply reading a recipe to make hash cookies, (maybe thats why they are the eggs of Satan?) Anyway, a cool song especially when you find that out. The man talking, slowly builds followed by an audience cheering. The whole thing sounds like a NAZI rally, when it is actually just some helpful cooking advice. ; )

Pu[&*!#] is another Tool song that has some really cool parts, and also some really boring parts. Overall, not that good a song.

After an annoying segue, we get to Ćnema. An awesome song! The music is really great, but the lyrics are better! You have to listen to this song. It is cool sounding and you will get a laugh, never have I heard someone so calmly, and beautifully, asking for the end of the world and hoping for tidal waves and meteors. After all, is it really so bad if the world ended? I sure could use a vacation! Also, the whole L.A. falling into the ocean laving an Arizona Bay is a direct reference to Bill Hicks.

( - ) Ions is another annoying segue. Then it is onto the last track. Third Eye begins with some clips of Bill Hick talking about drugs. Drugs and music, the war on drugs, and what a "positive drug story" would sound like. Third Eye is also a reference to the Pineal Gland, a gland in our brain that emits the chemical DMT which is an extremely powerful psychedelic compound that might be responsible for dreams, (as well as near death experiences and alien abductions). This gland has been called our "Third Eye" which would be our eye to seeing the spiritual world. OK, enough hippie talk! Onto the song.

It is a decent song. Too long in some parts. However, just before 8 minutes an interesting part does come in, with some very unique drumming and kind of creepy vocals. In my opinion he is taking about an experience on DMT, since the lyrics "prying open my third eye" are said many times.

Overall, a very good album. Like any Tool release it has some boring parts, and some parts that go on way too long, and not to mention some segues that are just irritating. However, the rest is solid, they are some great songs, and as mentioned in the beginning lots of humor and lots of lyrics with multiple, multiple meanings.

A solid four stars.

Review by The Crow
4 stars Here the authentic Tool was born... After the splendid "Undertow", the band achieved its real personality here!

"Aenima" was a great leap forward for this american band, adding a great quantity of experimentation, progressive structures and also some silly things to their first full lenght album... The result was a milestone of experimental metal, and maybe one of the most important metal albums from the 90's. The stoner-based riffs mixed with some extreme influences, along with noise experimentation and progressive elements, made a great formula in "Aenima", although it was surpased later by the outstanding "Lateralus".

Sadly, here also started the interest fo the band of adding some silly tracks to the records, wich break the mood of Aenima in my opinion... Some people can find in cool, and I've heard another records like Devin Townsend's "Terria" where this kind of experiments are good, because their are a whole with the songs. But in "Aenima", I think that tracks like Useful Idion, Cesaro Summability and Ions don't add nothing really interesting to the album... And they are perfectly forgettable.

Nevetheless, the album is full with good songs... Eulogy, Forty Six & 2, Jimmy, Pu[&*!#], Aenema... A incredible digest of tech metal bullets , and although they are more friendly for the masses than other experimental metal bands like Voivod, Meshuggah or Neurosis, they are also a pleasure and a challenge for every prog-tech metal lover. The band was really incredible here too, every one of them sounding perfect. A special mention deserves Adam Jones, the man who gives more details and personality to the Tool's songs, and the great Maynard James Keenan, a man with a beautiful and fragile voice, but who is also able to sound rageful and powerful like a beast.

Conclusion: "Aenima" is an album wich deseves a special place in the 90's music... The band was able to develope the "Undertow" style in a new and even more attractive direction, offering a jewel for the experimental metal lovers, but also with a great hook for the masses. So although the album has some forgettable moments, in the form of four or five silly noisy tracks wich don't add any interest to the album, "Aenima" is an obligated stop to people who don't want to miss an important part of the modern day prog metal. A classic!

My rating: ****1/2

Review by EatThatPhonebook
5 stars 10/10

"Aenima" is probably the darkest and one of the best albums of all time.

It's only thanks toTool that I now love progressive rock. When, for the first time, I listened to Aenima, my mind was completely blown. But now, for me this is the most important album of my musical life. Tool arrives at their second studio album, and from here everything changed for them. The first album, and also the EP "Opiate", were very Heavy Metal driven and they still didn't have a style of there own, and there were only a few moments prog related. So, when Aenima came out, it seemed like it came out of nowhere. The style was so diverse, and it proved that Tool reached they're maturity.

The album is probably the darkest album of all time. Sinister in almost every moment, you can't not shiver in at least a couple of moments. Ironically the album is dedicated to a comedian, who died just before the band strted to write material.Thanks to Adam Jones' noisy and shredding guitar, to Danny Carey's powerful, precise, and tribal influenced drumming, to Justin Chancellor's, who just replaced previous bassist of the band Paul D'Amour at the time, pondering and dark bass, and of course thanks to Maynard James Keenan's at times beautiful and fragile at times strong and fearless vocals which really made the album how it is, that the album is so dark, yet so beautiful, with such intense and haunting moments that no human being who loves music can forget.

The album starts with "Stinkfist", with a weird intro that sounds like something metallic is bouncing, followed by some noise made by the guitars. Then the song explodes, with a simple but effective riff. Then Maynard comes in, with a dark bass driven tune that is the verse. The chorus is violent, and quite quick, and in a moment we are back to the verse. After the second chorus, there is the experimental part, a part that is always present in all the following songs. There is still the bass that keeps the rhythm, while Jones does some crazy guitar sounds, even though they are quite emotive, haunting and creepy, but still very intense. After this part, there is the grand finale, in the beginning very mellow, then violent, then they repeat a part of the chorus, and the song ends kind of like how it started, but not as distorted and weird. The lyrical content is debatable: some thing it's about drugs, some about sex. I see it as a representation of being dependent on something, generally speaking.

"Eulogy" starts with a calm, yet kind of mysterious intro: the first two minutes are a slow but have an increasing climax, and then the song kicks in, and the first verse has started. The guitar work in this part is great, really impressive. Then the chorus arrives, the first violent part of the song. Maynard's voice here sounds great, probably this song is one of his greatest performances. After the second verse and the chorus, we have several time changes, and different melodies. But the end is what is really spectacular, the atmosphere, before the grand finale, is tense, and you can tell it will explode any second. The finale presents crunchy guitars and Maynard singing, until he keeps a rough and incredibly difficult note for a long time, while the band plays on. It gives me goosebumps all the time. A stunning piece of music, again very intense and dark, a masterpiece. The lyrical content seems to talk about religion, definitely criticizing it and martyrdom.

If I had to choose the song that I least prefer from this album that will be "H.", and it still is a fantastic song! It's one of the shortest songs ( 6 minutes), but very haunting and deep. In fact, the song is mostly mellow. It starts with a distorted bass riff, very slow and kind of doomy. When Maynard starts to sing, the verse has alread started. The music is calm, the vocals are gentle, but the lyrics are very disturbing: it's probably about Maynard being abused when he was a child. The chorus is a bit stronger, and ith crunchy guitars, and Maynard now is screaming. When the middle part starts, we have a guitar (or bass?) solo part, with nothing else to accompany it, making the music very tense. When Maynard starts to sing again, there is an increasing climax, and at a certain point the music sounds almost comforting, cheerful, nice. But it's nothing but an illusion, and right after we have one of the darkest moments of the album, very violent. There's then a short solo by Jones, then there's the chorus is repeated,and the song is over. Brilliant piece.

"Useful Idiot" is a 38 second song: it's the sound of an LP when the side is over, making a sort of an illusion for whoever was use to LPs that the side is over.

"46 & 2" starts with a brilliant and catchy bass riff, probably the catchiest of all the songs in this album. The song is simply structured, unlike all the other songs, but still amazing. After the brief intro, Maynard starts singing. It's a very mellow part, and his voice is gentle again, until the chorus, when the song explodes. After the usual structure of second verse and chorus, there are some time changes and slight modifications of that same riff. The song ends in a breathtaking way: the riff is repeated, but it now is in an odd time signature (I'm not an expert in such matters, but it does sound a bit like it), and the drums are pounding to the rhythm in a very cool way. The lyrical content seems to concern science and an excellent form of life cells that rarely human beings have.

"Message To Harry Manback" is a fun interlude, a piano plays in the background while there's a voice from voicemail that apparently is threatening Harry Manback, and sometimes he speaks Italian, insulting him.

"Hooker With A Penis" is the shortest song of the album (if you don't include the interludes), and probably also the heaviest and most distorted song. The riff is quite catchy, Maynard's voice is always rough or screaming. There are some very cool moments in this song, but it seems like nobody likes "Hooker With A Penis", probably because it almost sounds like a joke. In fact, this is the only song where the lyrical content is pretty lame, it just talks about a boy that tells Maynard that he was selling out, and he absolutely hates when somebody tells him that. Still this is an unbelievable song.

"Intermission" is, like the title says, a brief one minute Intermission that repeates the riff of the following song, "Jimmy", with a moog organ. Fun to listen to, since it makes the music sound very cheerful, even though this following piece is one of the darkest pieces of all time.

"Jimmy" starts very quickly, with no intro, since "Intermission" pretty much made it not necessary to have, and the first verse comes in: it's just bass guitar, and Maynard's soft voice, with at times some interventions by Jones. The chorus comes in, not more violent than the beginning, but still very haunting, thanks to Maynard's beautiful sustained vocals, and thanks to the guitar work. Unlike the other songs, they don't reprise the second verse, they just move on different time and melody changes, at first with Jones' shredding and noisy moments, then with a powerful bass by Chancellor.It goes on changing a lot pretty much until the end. Very underrated song, intense, dark, intriguing, and beautiful like rarely music is and like almost always is here in "Aenima". The lyrical content again concerns Maynard's disturbing childhood,which makes the song even darker.

"Die Eier Von Satan" is another fun interlude, even though the music is very creepy: it's basically very heavy industrial music, with a lot of creepy fade in or out effects. After a while, a scary voice starts speaking in German, almost like he was a Nazi german, you soon here that there is a crowd that is worshiping him, supporting him with great voice. The fun part is that what really the German guy is saying is just a recipe of some kind of Eggs. The title can be translated as "The Eggs Of Satan", or "The Balls Of Satan", if you wanted to be more vulgar.

"Pu[&*!#]" is the second longest song of the album ( ten minutes), but it's probably the creepiest, the most intriguing, and the most intense. The intro starts with a sound very similar to bees buzzing, and then the guitar plays the main riff, and before you know it the verse has started. But the really intense part starts only after a couple of minutes when, the song starts to have an increasing climax, and when Maynard yells "Piece Of Mind", the song becomes violent and crude, the chorus is very dark, mysterious, and the vocals are absolutely amazing, one of the best vocal performances ever. When the chorus ends, everything gets calm. The atmosphere is really intense, thanks to Jones's guitar playing, and also thanks to Carey's really cool percussion. Maynard's voice is very soft, you can barely hear it. At a certain point the guitars are distorted again, and the minute that follows includes a wonderful, wonderful solo of Jones', very haunting, intriguing, and even a bit creepy. There's a reprise of the chorus, and a fabolous finale, where the vocals are at the absolute peak of beauty. The lyrics are once again about Maynard's unhappy childhood, as he was abused by one of his parents. A song that never stoppes impressing me, and giving me goosebumps. The really dark side of prog.

"Cesaro Summability" is a brief and really weird interlude.Initially it's a baby crying, accompanied by strange distorted sounds, and then there's Maynard's voice talking, always really distorted, so you can't hear what he says. Interesting song.

the title track is another Tool classic for concerts. After the weird vocal intro, the riff comes in, as well as drums, and then the first verse comes. It's features only bass and vocals, and it goes on until the chorus comes. Then there's a reprise of the verse, then the chorus again, and then the greatest part. Everything is calmer, Maynard's voice is very soft, the drums are precise and very fast going, as a contrast to the atmosphere. It becomes louder and louder, and then the guitars finally come in once again, and the song reaches it's culminating point, the grand finale, always present in every great Tool song. The song is fabolous, very catchy, definitely one of their best. The lyrical content is very interesting, it talks about the possibility that L.A. could be separated from America and becoming an island.

"(-) Ions" is the greatest interlude song. It is the sound of a train passing, and eventually of a light that catches bugs. It's so great because it's a great relaxing song, and it prepares you to the most astonishing and epic song of the album, thanks to it's four long minutes, as a long break from all the intense moments that took place previously.

"Third Eye" is the final, epic masterpiece of the album. It starts with some heart beats, and suddenly we hear an excerpt of one of Bill Hicks', the comedian that the album dedicates to, most famous performances. It fades away after a brief amount of time, following some strange computer sounds, then some guitar noises that proceed in an increasing climax, until Maynard's voice comes in delicately in a mellow part. The song has started. The riff in this song is spectacular, and it quite often repeats during the song, even in this piece that follows. After that, Maynard's voice is yelling quite hard, with no lyrics, for just a couple of seconds. Follows a sort of jazz influenced piece that sounds almost like an improvisation of guitar, until the band reaches a new mood, mysterious, tense, waiting to explode. Only after a few minutes it explodes, and I really get goosebumps here. Another semi calm part follows, with the reprise of the main riff, and just a few moments later the song is about t end. Quite a masterpiece of progressive rock music, a track that you wont easily forget. The lyrical content is really interesting, that could refer to drugs or to something else. Their are quite fascinating and enigmatic.

As a conclusion, after this huge 2000 word review ( my record!), I have nothing else to say, if not that this album is probably one of the best albums of all time, because of it's unique style and because, despite being more than ten years old, it never lost any of it's enigmatic despair, and of course because of its scary soundscapes that penetrate your soul like no other piece of music. Essential.

Review by The Sleepwalker
4 stars Ćnima is a big leap forward compared to their previous album, Undertow. Tool decided to focus more on creating an atmosphere than on their previous release. This doesn't mean they didn't pay any attention to the music itself though, as most of the music on this album is very good.

A rough sound, which has some similarities with Stoner Metal opens the album. "Stinkfist" is a pretty accesible song with slow, heavy riffs. This isn't the only song on this album that isn't conventional metal; songs like "Eulogy", "Pu[&*!#]" and "Ćnema" have a very atmospheric feel to them, though being very rough and even aggresive at times. The album contains several songs that really stand out though; like the haunting "Jimmy", the mellow "H.", the mysterious "Forty-Six & 2" and the epic "Third Eye", which is one of the most ambitious pieces of music Tool has ever made . Some of these songs are definitely among the best in Tool's catalogue.

Many people claim this album has a lot of filler and unnecessary material. I haven't heard any of it, though I know what people are pointing at. They are pointing at the several one minute songs that this album features, that are full of strange noises like crying babies, white noise, and strange, electric sounds. These songs are all meant to create a certain atmosphere, and in my opinion they succeed in doing that.

Ćnima is a dark and atmospheric album. It is not as diverse as later Tool albums like Lateralus, but has a great atmosphere and contains some of Tool's best songs. I give it a four star rating, as it isn't a masterpiece, but a fantastic album indeed.

Review by Negoba
3 stars The Root of All Evil?Rock n' Roll is not Dead

While grunge had severed the bloating head of hair metal in the early nineties, it failed completely in making rock and roll dangerous again. The inward looking Seattle boys gave us a new combination of sounds that opened up the realm of possibility, but there wasn't a lot of new music that would really scare the pants off your parents. Until Tool. The band had a few minor hits, most notably the two chord "Sober" with it's refrain of "Jesus blows his fking whistle," which set the stage. But it was AENIMA that made Tool what they are now, probably the most influential band in modern heavy music.

The band had evolved quite a bit musically, with the signature circular bass riff taking center stage, and drummer Danny Carey starting to shine more and more. The songwriting had gotten quite a bit better, and with songs like "Stinkfist" and "Hooker with a PP," Tool firmly made a claim for being the most dangerous band out there. Maynard James Keenan's simultaneously tortured, twisted, and intelligent lyrics appealed to a wide array of young audience members. His voice would develop quite a bit over future projects but the emotional delivery was at full force from the beginning.

The songs on AENIMA are very riff based, played in straight time, and sometimes repetitive. Tool had not yet embraced prog sensibilities as full as they would on the subsequent album, and probably wouldn't still be around if they had. AENIMA was just the right degree of weird for the time. As is typical for Tool, there are a number of strange transition tracks. Some are complete throwaways but it added to the vibe. It must also be noted that some of the riffs on this album are among Tool's best, most memorable.

AENIMA was extremely progressive but when it came out no one would have thought "prog." Maybe "art metal" but not yet the genre defining work that would come on LATERALUS, and album I actually find more uneven. This album is an essential part of the history of modern rock in general, but that distinction will have to wait an album when were in the prog arena.

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is in my opinion the best Tool-album since the creativity is so evident that it basically just flows out of each member! The band reinvented their style here and turned this album into a rare spectacle for the listeners.

This was the first time Tool introduced small interludes between their compositions. All of these fillers that will become somewhat unnecessary on their later releases actually work magnificently here since they create transitions and set the mood for the upcoming compositions.

There are many highlights starting with the tour de force of the first three tracks and ending with the wonderful Third Eye. Yes, I have always had a soft spot for the great final track Third Eye, unfortunately listening to it today didn't really hit the note for me. Still it by no means lowers the overall quality of Ćnima, an album that everyone should hear.

***** star songs: Stinkfist (5:11) Eulogy (8:28) H. (6:07) Forty Six & 2 (6:04) Intermission (0:56) Pu[&*!#] (9:55) Ćnema (6:39)

**** star songs: Useful Idiot (0:38) Message To Harry Manback (1:53) Hooker With A Penis (4:33) Jimmy (5:24) Die Eier Von Satan (2:17) Cesaro Summability (1:26) (-) Ions (4:00) Third Eye (13:47)

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Aenima is an improvement over the debut. Right from the opening Stinkfist, Tool goes beyond their earlier grunge confines and gives the music more time to develop, resulting in quieter sections with some world percussion and more intricate riffing. The song itself doesn't grip me though. I think it's due to the vocals which are fairly standard melodically and lack soul. I am aware that this is not the prevailing point of view in the world but I hear what I hear, and I sure don't hear passion here. As I've pointed out in my Undertow review, I enjoyed Tool in concert so the sterile sound must be partly due to the studio recording.

Eulogy goes further in experimenting and expanding the grunge format, adding weird sounds and effects. Despite this disguise, the music is still fairly straightforward grunge/stoner riffing known from acts like Soundgarden, Kyuss or Rage Against The Machine, who were actually a lot more innovative years before Aenima. But the biggest disappointment comes from the vocals again, both the soft musings of Maynard James Keenan and his hysteric outbursts leave me completely untouched. He's not bad but his vocal melodies are average and his delivery inexpressive and characterless. After the average H, Forty Six & 2 starts out better with an appealing bass loop and pensive vocals and moody effects. The heavier sections are predictable but the rhythmic qualities keep this song going.

Another grudge I have with this album is the monotony of the material. Hooker with a Penis applies exactly the same approach as all other songs: rhythmic percussion, nicely circling bass, unremarkable grunge guitars and vocals alternating between quiet and loud as if by prescription. I usually don't get any further in this album then Jimmy, an ok song but I'm long worn out by the time it comes along. I'm actually worn out reviewing as well now so the remainder will be for your own discovery.

Be not mistaken, Tool is an interesting and important band that might work just fine for you. For me, their first two albums offer nothing that the previous generation of grunge bands hadn't done much better years before. So I was most pleasantly surprised when Tool's next albums finally evolved towards stunning and challenging music.

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars Not quite the sharpest in the shed. A fine alternative metal album in its own right, AENIMA has some of the aesthetics to bill it as a prog metal album, and I can only agree. It's one of the better prog metal albums I've heard so far.

Tool are much more reliant on jams and atmospheres than other prog metal contemporaries like Dream Theater. Songs are generally one to four riff ideas that alternate between quiet and heavy at various points. Take the second song ''Eulogy'' for example; it has this quiet, experimental buildup for about 2.5 minutes before exploding into a heavy chorus, and basically is heavy metal the rest of the way. That buildup and change factor is what makes AENIMA so appealing. ''Forty-Six and 2'' works in a similar manner and ''Push it'' relies on the jamming I mentioned earlier.

Fans of metal will appreciate the title track, ''Hooker'' and ''Stinkfist'' as all of those are more straightforward, gut-busting, in-your-face, scare-grandma metal songs. Not that they add much to the prog factor, but they add to the enjoyability. Unfortunately, I find ''H'' to be a terribly weak song and ''Third Eye'' isn't that great due to it being placed at the very end of the album and it's a little too long. I was also disappointed in that no unusual metres were here except for ''Jimmy'' and bits of ''Forty-Six and 2''. ''Die Eier von Satan'' doesn't count as a song.

Speaking, that's the sticking point of AENIMA; why all of the filler? I'm okay with FRAGILE- esque (refering to Yes here) filler because THOSE songs were musical. ''Ions'' is four minutes of static noise; fun, no? Especially when a piercing migraine follows. ''Intermission'' is cute at best, but we really never needed ''Jimmy'' on Wurlitzer or a minute of baby cries (''Caesaro Summability'') or spoken threats (''Message to Harry Manback'').

If trimming would have been done and all filler had been removed, AENIMA might have been a prog metal masterpiece in my eyes, but I'll have to settle with, ''It's very good for metal, and I understand the prog behind it, but there needs to be more to prove to me that we have prog greatness.'' A good entry point, though.

Review by russellk
5 stars 'Aenima' is a force of nature, a relentless sequence of hammerblows nailing the credibility of progressive metal up for all to see, an expression of passion allied with intelligence, sardonic wit, technical ability and a unique vision to give us something seldom approached since the heady days of the 1970s.

The TOOL sound bursts forth here full-formed. Crushing bass and guitar riffs backed by superb drumming (for example, the instrumental break in 'Pu[&*!#]'), all topped off by James Maynard Keenan's raw power. The secret, however, is the beast that it TOOL's sound is kept on a leash, let free only when the song demands it. 'Stinkfist' is a superior but standard rocker, but the pyrotechnics begin with the next track, 'Eulogy'. The vocals are concealed by distortion until the song has built, then Keenan yells: 'Don't you step out of line!' and the beast breaks loose, until the raw power eviscerates the listener in the last few seconds of the song.

Every song here earns its place. 'H' is a frightening song about trying to stop the cycle of abuse. Keenan was abused by his own father, and the 'snake behind [him] hisses', encouraging him to abuse his own son (the H of the title). Listen to how the music saves itself for those moments of terror as he contemplates what he might become.

Well, after that we need a break, and one of the things TOOL do so well here is let us come down when we need it. A few seconds' pause and we're into '46 and 2'. TOOL raises the bar again with an utterly compelling song so representative of the sound they've pioneered. An ambiguous lyric, it traverses the territory around the idea that humanity is evolving into something better (46 and 2 chromosomes) - yet change comes through the shadow. With TOOL even such abstract ideas come down to the personal: 'I've been wallowing in my own chaotic and insecure delusions'. Great stuff for a prog rock album! And the music is relentless; hammer hammer hammer at you. Don't think for a moment you're going to escape...

Every song is a highlight. The anger and scorn in the fragment 'Message to Harry Manback' is exceeded in the truly monstrous 'Hooker With A Penis,' surely the ultimate rebuttal to anyone accusing their favourite band of selling out. After 'Intermission/Jimmy' comes the curious and brilliant 'Die Eier Von Satan', a chilling representation of the Third Reich - or is it? No, it's a recipe, and our preconceptions are challenged once again. 'Pu[&*!#]' lumbers along like a brontosaurus, guitars like dentist's drills, unpleasant lyrics canvassing dominant/submissive love through the metaphor of a blowjob, then after another brief respite comes the absolute highlight, the (almost) title track. Six minutes of unparalleled profanity-laced vitriol spewed out against the California Movie Machine and associated west coast lifestyle using Bill Hicks' old Arizona Bay comedy routine to invoke an earthquake and the destruction of it all. 'Learn to swim!' This track deservedly (and not without some irony) won TOOL a Grammy.

See, this is what prog is all about. Not just unusual time signatures and symphonic arrangements - yes, TOOL has some of this - but an attitude, a political stance, a sense of humour, technical ability, and above all something to say. TOOL are not my favourite band - not by any stretch of the imagination - but I fail to see how this enormous slab of musical relevance can be ignored by anyone.

There's one more song of consequence, a track that some might call the most proggy ('Third Eye', a song examining the possibilities of a way forward through drugs) but in my view 'Aenima' is such a finely crafted work the tracks become indivisible. There are few albums that transcend music and become works of art in their own right. This is one of them, an album without a moment of weakness, and it will still be relevant in a century's time. Not their most progressive work (that's reserved for their next work) but in my opinion far and away their most important.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Ćnima' - Tool (6/10)

Despite arguably being the most famous and critically acclaimed post-metal band of all time, there is something about Tool that has never really done it for me. Perhaps it is their grungy sound, pretentious vibe or even (what I perceive to be) their overrated nature. In any case, the band has shown themselves to be talented and creative, but never impressed me so greatly, and their second album 'Ćnima' is little deviation from that course. A drawn out exercise in experimental anger that almost draws to the eighty minute mark, 'Ćnima' does little in the way of sounding pleasant and has far too much filler here to be considered anything much better than merely 'good', but there is intelligence to the songwriting and performance here that must be given credit.

With such songs as 'Stinkfist' and 'Eulogy' to first introduce the listener to the world of 'Ćnima', it first seems that things are starting out on a great note. Clever use of melodies overtop the sludge in the first song make it a heavy, yet quite catchy track, and 'Eulogy' only kicks things up with some interesting experiments with rhythm and flow. Of course, the album doesn't keep up this pace for long, instead falling into a rut of somewhat forgettable, pretentious sludge tracks. The worst offender for 'Ćnima' lies however in the nasty interludes, which at best work as an amusing gimmick worth a listen, and at worst seek only to drag on an already long album far past its due with irritating noise. '(-) Ions' is the perfect example of why these interludes- for the lack of greater parlance- suck, a couple of minutes of mindless electronic interference that only seeks to fill out the album space.

Luckily for Tool, there are a couple of tracks later in the album that go back to excellence. 'Forty Six & 2' has a great bass line, and the title track is a great heavy song that surprisingly uses James Maynard Keenan's needlessly pseudo-intellectual lyrics to good use, through some apparent social commentary. Lastly is 'Third Eye', which does go on for too long, but has some great builds to it.

Generally, I cannot say I am a fan of Tool's songwriting, as is probably quite evident. 'Ćnima's saving grace lies mostly in the actual performance by the musicians. Keenan does have a great voice, and there is very good reason why Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor are so highly regarded for their respective instruments. Even Adam Jones (whose simplistic style I have rarely cared for) does seem to put his skill at soundscaping here to an admirable use. Thankfully for a handful of great songs and dynamic musicianship, 'Ćnima' has been worth my time, although I'm certainly tempted to rate it lower.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Tool's second album is a substantial improvement over Undertow. Beginning in a strange and avant-leaning end of the alternative rock genre with the comparatively accessible Stinkfist, the album draws the listener in and explores increasingly complex and mysterious territory, pulling you deeper and deeper into the bizarre sonic world the band have constructed out of the emissions from industrial music and through applying an alternative metal aesthetic to the sort of sonic experimentation engaged in by King Crimson and Heldon in the mid-1970s.

Once you hit material like Pu[&*!#] and the title track you're completely lost in Tool's world, and only by seeing the album through can you find your way out. It's a compelling musical experience all around; alt metal fans should approach with an open mind and not expect everything to be as easy to take in as Stinkfist, and prog fans should have patience and give the band time to work their magic, but both should come out the other end enthralled and astonished by what they have gone through. A sonic Ćnima indeed.

Review by LinusW
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Well, well! Proudly bring forth your resentment, spite and hardened hearts and get prepared for an onslaught of heavy riffs and powerful, rhythmic drumming when joining in on this angry, sweaty, grunge/alternative metal diatribe.

Taut, collected guitar riffs hammer or punch the unwary listener around in a harsh, but compositionally precise and uncluttered soundscape. Occasionally it almost overwhelms you in a stickier, sludgier way, coming down in thick slurs of viciously distorted power. It is supremely visceral. The drumming also helps with that, continuing the theme of gut-meets-precision via powerful, distinct rhythms (and near-tribal polyrhythms) that follow the shifting dynamics brilliantly. Adds a wonderful amount of body to the music. There is a tendency to alternate between tense, calmer and more deliberate bits and full-blown noisy catharsis, but without it ever really disintegrating into the looser, more whirling sounds that lurk in the shadows. Just a bit too disciplined for that. Menacingly, the bass rumbles on in the background, often in a sort of prowling repetition of a phrase or two. Sometimes it switches places with the guitar in filling the role as melodic lead, leaving room for a distinctly grittier melodic sound as well as percussive distortion from the guitars. I rather like that.

Under all this you find a nondescript collection of bits and bobs from the darker and more ominous parts of the industrial and psychedelic lost-and-found boxes. They sneak or slither in as metallic or electronic atonal or droning sound effects as well as wobbly, scratchy and eerie guitar overlays and Eastern-tinged percussive goodies. Especially prevalent in the short, mood-setting segues between the longer compositions, they also turn up as rare, twisted splashes of colour in between the guitar/bass/drum hegemony. Goes well with the overhanging sense of dread, isolation, urban grimness and angst-ridden, frothing frustration.

Keenan does a fine job marrying the vocal delivery with the music, elegantly following the dynamic back-and-forth between the sadder, mellower, slightly reflective and the venomous eruptions of hateful frustration and aggression.

It is a nice package and an album that makes me feel something. I love how visceral it is, I love how disciplined and hard-hitting it is. But the ideas are spread rather thin. After a while everything feels like the same song six times over, with the dynamic and compositional complexity never really reaching such heights or branching out into enough new and unexpected places that the initial interest in renewed. A bit of a one-trick pony, sadly. But if you are really into this stuff and find the time and energy to really dissect it - who am I to argue? It is possible I just do not appreciate the style enough to stay focused throughout.

So to sum it up, Ćnima refuses to pay off as a long-term investment and slightly overstays its welcome each and every time. But you can still squeeze around twenty random minutes of great music from it every time you hear it. Not half bad.

3 stars.


Review by jammun
5 stars Relax. I feel something. Something deep inside.

I feel Tool's absolute high point. I feel a crystal CD case that no longer holds together, all the nubbins holding it together having shattered. Dig the Cracker Jack cover. Someone's ripped it apart, or maybe it just hit the floor one too many times during...

Get with the dynamics, the percussion, the beat, the ever-present incessant wandering beat and the bottom end. Get with the sonic explosions, Crank it up you [%*!#]ing ass, crank it up on the headphones...your hearing is shot anyway. Get wit the rhythm of of Eulogy.

We've got through Stinkfist and Eulogy and it's already pert much one of the best albums you'll ever hear. Listen how they dial it up and dial it down. Listen how Maynard can slither through dangerous savannah grasses like a snake on H.

The band is a rhythm machine. It's the rhythmic soundtrack of SoCal ending up somewhere around Catalina, near the Nixon Library, post-Aenima.

This band never disappoints. Never. Not on this one. I listen to this; I feel like some kind of voyeur. I'm there when it all happens. I'm there when it sounds like Blue Cheer. I'm there when it sounds like ZZ Top. I'm there when the pulse starts. I'm there when it sounds like we're all falling off the edge, towards that shining city on the hill just in sight.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Though I am not really very enamored (or even tolerant) of metal--especially tech/"extreme" metal--there is something profoundly alluring and interesting about Tool music. I think it's the fact that, despite the thick and heavy chords, there is this kind of etheric spaciousness to the music. Maynard James Keegan's singing is usually so diverse and rarely domineering, like he finds the holes and threads in the music into which he weaves his voice/vocals as if they are another instrument. I find it fascinating.

1. "Stinkfist" (5:11) (8.75/10)

2. "Eulogy" (8:29) a fascinating exploration of space, temporality, and dimensionality. (19.5/20)

3. "H." (6:03) awesome intro of heavily distorted power chords! Brilliant tease of potential energy during the singing parts! Amazing construct! (9.5/10)

4. "Useful Idiot" (0:39) LOL! (4.5/5)

5. "Forty Six & 2" (6:03) great Crimsonian weave. (8,75/10)

6. "Message to Harry Manback" (1:53) super creepy! (4.5/5)

7. "Hooker with a Penis" (4:34) too much for me. (8/10)

8. "Intermission" (0:56) ;) (5/5)

9. "Jimmy" (5:24) some cool vocal techniques, otherwise, too much like a heavier NIRVANA song. (8.5/10)

10. "Die Eier Von Satan" (2:17) You got it! (5/5)

11. "Pu[&*!#]" (9:56) by now, the sound and rhythmic patterns of the music are getting a bit tiring. Still, Keenan's unorthodox vocal talents (and subject matter) are mesmerizing. Great final three minutes of bass & guitar. (18/20)

12. "Cesaro Summability" (1:26) (4.5/5)

13. "Ćnema" (6:40) almost like a normally structured song--(at least for the first three minutes)! And multiple tracks used by Maynard! (9/10)

14. "(-) Ions" (4:00) explorations in sound recording and the harmonics of sheet metal manipulations and sequence of electrode sound sample. (8.5/10)

15. "Third Eye" (13:47) Heartbeat. Tape of comedian on drugs & music, weather, while drums and searing heavily distorted guitar fly around. When bass kicks in in the low end around 2:15, a song comes together within which Maynard's treated vocal joins in. Amazing amp up with scream! What a journey this fourteen minutes takes me on! What creativity and courage the band shows! And they bring it to a crescendo and finale better than any other song on the album. (29/30)

A-/five star; a minor masterpiece of hard-driving, brutally honest, syncopated and eccentric heavy prog. Better than Lateralus? Not sure. I'll have to listen to them back-to-back to determine that.

Review by Kempokid
3 stars When the topic of prog metal gets brought up in a discussion about music at any point, Tool is likely one of the bands that you'll hear being mentioned, with their mix of prog and alternative metal being able to appeal to quite a wide audience in a compelling, intelligent way. That is of course, when they're at their peak. While Aenima is undoubtedly a huge step up from the extremely one note Undertow, I personally still feel as if the band hadn't quite matured at this point to be able to make an album that was truly great. While the compositions became far more complex, refined and explorative, I believe that the album lacks a couple of extremely important things, the biggest being variety. This album mostly conveys a very limited range of emotions such as anger and hatred, without much positivity to go around, something that probably could have worked better if not for the other issue here, a lack of restraint. Most of these songs could probably be cut down by a couple of minutes without much hassle, and the interludes throughout also weaken the overall experience, especially when you take into account the length of this album, overall making it an impressive album in some regards, but one that fails to completely stick the landing.

With all that said, the album opener, Stinkfist is extremely strong, with an incredibly groovy riff that gives the song a really fun energy that carries on throughout the entire song, with the nice, mid-tempo feel being absolutely perfect. The other aspect of the song that really solidifies this being as good as it is is how smoothly, yet effectively the chorus escalates the aggression of the song. Eulogy continues this trend very nicely, starting off with a similar sort of minimalistic intro before the dense instrumentation bursts in. While I may have complained about the limited emotional range here, I cannot deny that when Maynard goes all out, this vitriol is so powerful, as it is here. The sarcasm that can be heard through the heavily distorted vocals of the verses is a prime example of this, even if the chorus may be a bit on the lacklustre side. The best moment of the song is easily the last couple of minutes where Maynard just starts shouting and the sarcasm becomes pure rage backed up by some amazing riffing. Similarly, the song Hooker With A Penis stands out for almost entirely ditching the slower prog sensibilities in favour of creating a hard hitting metal track that is absolutely full of aggression in an entertaining way, especially with how clearly pissed off Maynard is throughout, even compared to most of his other songs.

Usually on this album, when a song is good it's because of one of 2 reasons, either the riff is good, or the chorus is good, which is what makes the eerie, mysterious sounding Forty Six & Two such a beloved song amongst fans, beginning with one of their absolute greatest intros, with a slow, sinister buildup backed up by an incredible riff. The quieter nature of this first couple of minutes is easily one of the best cases of Maynard being more nuanced in his delivery as the band backs him up perfectly, with a much less dense instrumental section creating one of the only truly different sounding songs on the album. The 2 other songs that deserve a lot of praise are the title track and Third Eye. Aenima is an entertaining, fast paced song with a really fun chorus, and while it may not do anything too out there or unique, it definitely is one of the best realised tracks on the album. It's pretty clear why Third Eye is considered such a good track on the album as well, being 12 minutes in length and not wasting a single one, fully embracing their proggy side to create such an expansive track that demonstrates just how great prog jamming can truly be under the right circumstances, all leading up to the greatest moment on the album, where everything stops outside of Maynard screaming 'prying open my third eye' as the drum beat feels as if its thrashing you on the back of the head with a hammer, bringing the album to a close on an incredibly high note.

Of course, as previously mentioned, I don't think that this album is all good by any means. The biggest problem I hear is a combination of issues that ultimately result in a large issue, and that's the mixing combined with the lack of variety that can be found here. Despite some songs being able to make the best out of this, I often found the songs here to sound extremely muddy with a lot of the finer details feeling completely washed out, which when combined with a lot of the songs sounding very similar, leads to an album that I end up forgetting a number of the tracks outside of very specific moments within them. I also feel like they could have cut out a good 20 minutes of this without anything too major being lost, in terms of songs, this especially rings true to both Jimmy and especially Push-it, neither of which managing to leave much of an impression on me at all outside of it being cool that Jimmy's opening riff is a slowed down version of Intermission. The interludes are where the album really becomes less enjoyable than it needed to be, since it hits a point where after H., literally every second track is another pointless interlude, with the only one that's even marginally of value being the aforementioned Intermission, simply because I love the Monty Python and the Holy Grail vibes it gives off.

Overall, while I definitely believe that this is a much better constructed and written album than Undertow, I still don't believe that Aenima is truly where Tool displayed a lot of their potential, with a lot of the incredible stuff being balanced out to a degree by mediocrity and pointlessness. I definitely find this an album of merit, even if a lot of it comes down to some individual moments rather than a case of being consistently great, but I really think that this could have been a much better album if it were only 50 minutes and they cut out the pointless filler. At least Tool stopped having so many interludes after this album, at the very least.

Best tracks: Stinkfist, Forty Six & Two, Aenima, Third Eye, Hooker With a Penis

Weakest tracks: Literally every interlude, Jimmy, Push-it

Verdict: Better than mediocrity doesn't necessarily mean amazing, as Aenima proves. For as great as some of the songs here can be, the album is needlessly long and bears a similar problem to Undertow in terms of being at times painfully one note. Fortunately, despite saying that, I feel like there's a really great 50-minute album hidden in here, and many songs are just straight up incredible to the point where I can forgive it to an extent.

Review by Hector Enrique
4 stars The second album by Tool marks the change of Paul D´amour on bass by the Englishman Justín Chancellor, and with it also a more consistent proposal in the band's musical structure. In this second installment, the sound takes on a depth and darkness clearly represented in Keenan's lyrics and Jones' guitar, whose distinctive riffs have been maintained throughout his subsequent discography, and are those that accompany them until his recent Fear Inoculum. .

Tool's unique style is defined from the Aenima, and leads us through diverse topics as deep as controversial (the presence and role of Jesus on earth in Eulogy, the evolution of the primitive human and his next stage in Forty Six & 2, the constantly being at the limit of doing something that should not be done and falling for it in Pu[&*!#], the criticism of the way in which society is structured and the need for a profound change starting with the purification of the soul in Aenema, among others).

In the musical aspect, the album maintains a very high level, where we can clearly highlight Anema, which during the more than 6 minutes long they take us through a slide of emotions from the hand of the masterful Jones and Carey's excellent drums, going from calm to chaotic tempos without ever losing composure. In my opinion it is probably one of the top songs of the group of all time. At a similar level we can highlight Forty Six & 2, where again Jones's guitars, this time combining a clean and distorted sound, and Carey's drums, give us another anthology song. Unmissable within the most representative themes of the band. Stinkfist follows in their footsteps, like a fundamental piece of the album.

Both Pu[&*!#], H, Eulogy, Jimmy and Hooker with a Penis also show us the high level of the group but without detracting from them, I consider that they are a slight step below the previous songs.

Useful idiot, Ions, Cesaro Summability and Message to Harry Manback, beyond some dramatic sounds and the disturbing message on the answering machine, are the additions that Tool usually incorporates in his recordings but that in my opinion do not add much value to the album.

A special consideration for Third Eye, the final song on the album. The spectacular almost 14 minutes of the most progressive song and we could say dark and reflective, become an exploration of the human psyche based on what is considered the third eye.

A fundamental album to understand much of the appeal and why they have a large legion of fans. An album that combines unique music outside the standard and lyrics that accompany it to the height.

Review by DangHeck
3 stars As I've likely insinuated in Tool reviews past, when I last listened through Ćnima, or any other Tool release, I not-so-begrudgingly, yet very-much-regrettably, listened through them all in a very short period of time [a few days]. Talk about burnout. Or ear fatigue haha. Tool is a band that I simply love to hate, and I'm blessed to have friends that can at least take it on the chin. But that 'hatred', whether warranted, legitimate or otherwise, may as well have started then and there. But here, with their second LP in 1996, things are certainly looking up for the band; honestly, they do seem to figure something out with each subsequent release. Going into this, though, no promises on being nice (as usual).

The album begins with the hit single "Stinkfist", one of those successful tracks which has floated around for much of my Millennial life. And happily so. The percussive guitar at the front is fantastic. Low and slow enough for feel, but with a mean Alt-Metal-meets-many-Prog-greats groove thanks in greatest part to Danny Carey behind the kit. Justin Chancellor on bass fills things out very well with a beefy drone, and I think this is one of those obviously great vocal performances from Maynard James Keenan. I'm hoping to appreciate more out of the guitar here, the element that (along with bass, frankly) I don't really think much of: and this track is an awesome showcase of Adam Jones. It's not all chugging, but features some really lovely melodicism and heavy sonics for the time; I'd be surprised if bands from Deftones to Sevendust hadn't taken a few notes. "Eulogy" next begins with a robotic chirp and what I assume to be a polyrhythmic sticks-hit (like the kind Steven Reich used in "Music for Pieces of Wood"), which evokes an Eastern (Raga-esque) vibe. Good example of Tool's longform, loud-soft-dynamics style, which I'd consider a norm, an expectation. Overall, and again, beefy and groovin'; and generally a success.

"H." was the album's second single, and right off the bat, I have to say, this feels an odd choice for one... With the working title of "Half Empty", and the identity and general meaning of "H." speculated since its release, Keenan's mentioned the old devil-angel-duo-on-shoulders bit as a clue, and that it's the middle initial of his son. Anyway, not much my thing, although the more 'alternative', borderline radio-friendliness of the track is distinct for them. This is interluded via the lightly harsh white noise of "Useful Idiot" into "Forty Six & 2" (not a Chicago cover, I promise you). One of three or four tracks which should be recognizable from here, it was Ćnima's fourth and final single. Great, memorable melody over another East-meets-West driving drone; honestly, love this chorus. Compositionally only minorly interesting, but who cares? Cool, great song everyone should know.

"Message To Harry Manback" is a melancholic piano interlude featuring a voicemail. I feel nothing about it and it now just feels cliche. In all honesty, never would have thought much about their lyrics, but I guess I just had to know with the uncomfortably Tool-titled "Hooker With A Penis". It's not all bad: a very angsty f*ck you to our subject, I guess. It feels like punching down, but that's not exactly what we're all here for. It's plenty cringey though... Yep. I hope it's somewhat ironic, but just yikes. This is followed by "Intermission", a track I genuinely like... since it sounds nothing like Tool ha! The track is entirely instrumental, strictly featuring Eban Schletter on an organ (my brain goes to Wurlitzer). A nice intro to "Jimmy", another which I've historically, and actually, enjoyed. Low and slow groove, ya know, that one Tool thing, but the cymbal play by Carey is certainly tasteful and fun. And the bridge, not to mention the great closing of the track, really is the thing that saves it from being that very boring norm; a big'n; praise be.

Next is the overtly Industrial, and surprisingly funny, "Die Eier von Satan" (The Eggs of Satan), which is a spoken word baking recipe. And despite the name, the eggs are excluded in the end... LOL. "Pu[&*!#]" begins with that canned vocal which I honestly think is just so schlocky now. I prefer obvious, aware and in-on-the-joke schlock; it just feels like Tool are constantly saying, 'Pretty awesome, right?' At nearly 10 minutes, my brain let out a little scream before it started. This is generally the opposite of what I need from Tool: I'll take less, please, and thank you. 4 minutes of boredom is followed by some peace and quiet, and honestly, this middle section was reminding me of a less cool Ozric Tentacles, with the guitar's clean echoing. On the return, nicer than the start, Danny Carey is naturally the treat to enjoy. On "Cesaro Summability", a baby's cries feed the static, a dystopia dropping to complete silence. Then we get the title track, "Ćnima", and I'm enjoying it more than my memory served it. Tool is one of those bands where I'm occasionally unsure if there are actual verses per se, but that compositional uncertainty is really working here. For them especially, more is more. Oh yeah, and Carey is once again set ablaze atop his fiery throne.

Approaching the long-time-coming end to the album, next is "(-) Ions". A fitting title, they utilize the apparent found-sound of a loud electrical current's whirring and snapping. I feel... safe? We're in an electrical thunder storm, but I'm indoors. Honestly, pretty interesting for them. Is it a song? Sure! [Tough listen though.] And onto the final track! My first guess with "Third Eye" is that it's a play on the 'one-eyed monster' some of us have below the belt (statistically likely to be the vast majority here haha). But nah, just a terrible acid trip story, although ever-fittingly, over the course of 14 minutes of dark psychedelia. It opens with an eerie vibe and a Bill Hicks monologue about being "really f*cking high on drugs". At the top of this 2-minute slow-go crescendo, the drum figure Carey uses throughout then reminded me of "Ghost of Perdition" by Opeth, 9 years later (not like it's wholly unique anyway). The song definitely fits into Psych at large, again fittingly so. Just moreso horror inducing; speaking of, more and more impressed with some of their lyrical content. Thankfully, it can't all be dicks, sh*t and ass jokes, can it(?)... Still, I'm grateful it's over. It's the Tool thing: way too long, regardless of how good it can and has been.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Aenima is the 3rd studio release by Tool, and is really the first release by the band that falls into progressive territory. My perspective on Tool comes from growing up just after their heyday in the early 2000s. I was never exposed to them except for the hits (Sober and Schism), and I honestly ... (read more)

Report this review (#2246452) | Posted by mental_hygiene | Monday, August 26, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I at first viewed Aenima as a juvenile album. While the music was very nice and the songwriting top-notch, I thought that the lyrics and the angst were fairly over-the-top. Over time, though, I've come to simply appreciate nearly the entire album, despite the lackluster lyrics at parts and the ... (read more)

Report this review (#1286934) | Posted by Obsidian Pigeon | Thursday, October 2, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Ćnima is a very bipolar album for me. At times, the musicianship is strong and the songwriting conveys a clear sense of development and intent, but at others, it falls flat on its face, tripping over its forced anger and becoming mired by its juvenile themes. This really is a case of a strong ... (read more)

Report this review (#948386) | Posted by Neo-Romantic | Tuesday, April 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#945712) | Posted by bonestorm | Wednesday, April 17, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 9.5/10 The more I listen to Tool, but I wonder how this might have band size commercial recognition, offering one of the most difficult and indigestible musical sounds of today? This band is amazing. And Aenima is a huge step for them, compared with his regular debut Undertow. This recor ... (read more)

Report this review (#932508) | Posted by voliveira | Monday, March 18, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Tool released this great cd in 1996 and it still sounds fresh to me all these years later. The problem with Tool for myself is that 20% of each album is wasted sound effects or short songs that do little to help the overall album. To often Tool gives us short wasted spaces such as "Useless Idiot". O ... (read more)

Report this review (#733635) | Posted by mohaveman | Friday, April 20, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ćnima is a transistional record from Tool, great example of musical evolution which led the band to absolute perfection on Lateralus. Nonetheless, I still claim that this one is brilliant, even if not perfect. This album is a psychedelic post metal at its finest. Musically it is more mature and g ... (read more)

Report this review (#307968) | Posted by bartosso | Tuesday, November 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First off I will say that I'm a huge huge Tool fan. The reasons for this are, Danny's drums, Maynard's vocals and lyrics, and the content of the songs. You will find no other band that writes about what Tool writes about, which is usually about spiritual matters, songs like 46&2 and Third Eye are ... (read more)

Report this review (#306743) | Posted by Billy Pilgrim | Tuesday, October 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

2 stars The band TOOL has come along very hard/metal backgrounds into Aenima. The professionalism in this album is not on my list of favorites, it is what I would label as Covetous sound. The lead singer is extremely covetous, using hooks to his own advantage for alms. And this is what this album p ... (read more)

Report this review (#305242) | Posted by thewickedfall | Monday, October 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I don't think I could award any Tool album "essential" status, but this one comes closest. Lateralus, for whatever complicated twists and turns it may take, has always been totally emotionless to me; this one, however, evokes some powerful reactions. Every song on this album is great. But not ... (read more)

Report this review (#293072) | Posted by KyleSchmidlin | Monday, August 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the album that not only defines Tool itself, but could be a great introduction to Prog-Metal for anyone, being complex enough to analyze and investigate, but simple enough to be just as accessible to newcomers and even casual listeners as well. Every piece (including the filler tracks) ad ... (read more)

Report this review (#271646) | Posted by CinemaZebra | Saturday, March 13, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars 3 years after a good debut but looking forward to hear more about this American band, come with an better audio sound , great sound engineers can be seen in the work of this album just as it would for their future albums. Aenima, 1996, an album that from the first song "Stinkfist" is a power of e ... (read more)

Report this review (#269211) | Posted by JgX 5 | Monday, March 1, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I don't think this album is very good, I mean obviousley that is good, but not very much, they mix alternative metal with prog metal and I donˇt like that much, I think they are overvalued, they only have 4 albums and many people think they are reat ¬¬, for me the best is Lateralus, but Aenima ... (read more)

Report this review (#245796) | Posted by momoholo | Friday, October 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one of my favourite all-time albums. There is not much that I don't like about this album, in fact there is nothing I don't like about this album. Yes I even like the filler that most people complain about. It is this filler that make this such an atmospheric album. Tool is a band that ... (read more)

Report this review (#245167) | Posted by Mitch17 | Sunday, October 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have owned this album since the year it was released so I figured now would be a great time to review what is probably my favorite Tool album. First I will start off by saying that I own all of Tools albums as well as Opiate and Salival their boxset. I consider all of Tools work to be ... (read more)

Report this review (#244679) | Posted by Johnnytuba | Wednesday, October 14, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ćnima is a great, really great album, energic, dense and dark... The guitars become furious, the sound of the batt agglutinates with the great voice of Maynard, the screams, the S.E. despair, the feeling of freedom from something... This album manages to unite experimental sounds and progressive ... (read more)

Report this review (#242025) | Posted by Diego I | Tuesday, September 29, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Soul Cleansing. Welcome to a world of dark, desolate and compleatly insane music. I give 5 stars to the atmosphere but 3 as an album. Why? Well, the ideas are really cool, but I feel a lack of organization, and a presence of too much filler here and there. Its a little broken up and I wish i ... (read more)

Report this review (#202339) | Posted by pianoman | Tuesday, February 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Tool is probably among the best prog rock/metal groups of the past 20 years. Aenima is an impressive CD from this truly unique hypno-metal outfit. Some of Tool's best songs are off this album (i.e. Stinkfist, Eulogy, and the title track). The music videos that accompany some the tracks on Aenima ... (read more)

Report this review (#190787) | Posted by volta3 | Friday, November 28, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 th ... (read more)

Report this review (#181702) | Posted by topofsm | Thursday, September 4, 2008 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I've already wasted too much precious time exploring this pitiful piece, so I'll be brief. This is one of the most meaningless and emptiest albums I've ever experienced. It also happens to be awfully boring, lacking ANY trace of beauty, power, inspiration or emotion (except for anger). Just take ... (read more)

Report this review (#180876) | Posted by Mlaen | Tuesday, August 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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