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Tool - Lateralus CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.21 | 1639 ratings

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4 stars Soundtrack to a shark attack

Think about the images of the shark attack, before and during. Tool have these two modes that so perfectly fit the imagery. They bob and brood very softly and quietly, chugging away on a single string maybe with a few cymbal brushes, creating immense amounts of tension for the listener. On and on, nervous and tense, building. Perfect music for watching a flailing human in the water trying to stay above the surface as the sharks circle. The panic and adrenalin keep him going and going far beyond the point where he should have succumbed to exhaustion and drowned. Suddenly the water surface explodes in violence, teeth, blood, and pain as the band kicks into full volume assault.

The first thing that captured me about this album was the ferocious drumming of Danny Carey. Tribal, heavy, and consistent but with these perfect acrobatic fills that grab your attention.I can focus on his playing as a lead instrument and be entertained. Add to that the infectious and inventive guitar work of both Jones and Chancellor and you have the whole package. It is mind-boggling how Jones can move from sludge metal to nervewracking Frippish mode to updated psych-space-metal textures that almost sound like "Interstellar Overdrive" for the new century. Think about the riffs of Overdrive compared to some of the sections in Lateralus and while the final product is certainly different I think the comparison is interesting and I'd love to ask them about Floyd. The music ranges from the crushingly heavy riffing to the bounds of rage, but are made so much more engaging by the progressive elements of theme and explorative instrumentals full of hooks and color. While generally not a fan of albums that are this long Lateralus has enough high-minded vision and energetic rapport to keep even borderline metal fans on board so long as they can appreciate an overall dark emotional vibe...there's not much cheeriness on display. Much like some of my favorite symphonic works this album is so dense and full of layers that it is not easily assimilated to memory, meaning repeated listenings get more interesting instead of less. Certain grooves will begin to emerge and thrill you but there is always something else happening in the background that you didn't remember from your last spin. A good snapshot of the album is the title track which builds to a monstrous powerful ending before dissolving into the reflective "Disposition" with its ringing spacey clean guitars, strange whispers, and hand percussions. Then the 11 minute "Reflection" continues with brilliant ethereal guitar-scapes over sound effects and masterful drumming. Some contend the production is murky and the sound flat but I honestly think the sound is as intended and conveys the mood of the music quite well. These guys seem detailed-oriented and not prone to letting a work of this scope get out the door without the sound they intended. I think Lateralus is quite an achievement and a feather in the cap of progressive metal. It's an album that I enjoyed very quickly but one that could take years to fully appreciate, something I consider a positive attribute for a progressive recording.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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