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Tool - Ænima CD (album) cover

ÆNIMA

Tool

 

Experimental/Post Metal

4.09 | 890 ratings

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Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer
3 stars 'Ænima' - 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 'Ænima' is little deviation from that course. A drawn out exercise in experimental anger that almost draws to the eighty minute mark, 'Ænima' 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 'Ænima', 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 'Ænima' 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. 'Ænima'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, 'Ænima' has been worth my time, although I'm certainly tempted to rate it lower.

Conor Fynes | 3/5 |

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