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Tool - Lateralus CD (album) cover




Experimental/Post Metal

4.22 | 1724 ratings

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5 stars Tool - Lateralus

There was a time when I hated this album. I just could not, for the life of me, see the magic in this "masterpiece", as so many hailed it. My eyes were closed to this spectacle of wonder, and therefore, I saw and heard nothing but crunchy guitars--something I was heavily opposed to at the time--"grungy" vocals (which, despite my using the term now, you can be assured, do not exist on this album or anywhere near it), and empty compositions of a long-winded proportion. 1 star and nothing more. A waste of time.

Luckily, that time has long since past, and I have welcomed this obvious masterpiece into my arms and ears quite happily. The album, simply, is stunning. From start to finish, every note seems perfectly placed, every climax is emotionally gripping, and this album's atmosphere.don't even get me started. Let's just say that I love dark music, when done well, and this is essentially the epitome of this idea; dark, gripping, and sometimes nightmarish, Lateralus is something very special--something Tool themselves have not been able to surpass since (despite their great follow up 10,000 Days). It is one of those very few slices of perfection that some higher being, or perhaps in this case, some lower being, has handed down (or up.) for these wonderful musicians to tamper with and to perfect. The best part of all of this: we humble listeners are the recipients of this godly gift.

If there is one thing I did not make clear with my initial paragraph, it is that this album may take time. Tool is one of those bands that, like Radiohead and perhaps The Mars Volta, garners immediate hatred from some people (including my former self) simply because of the majority of their fan base (it's no use lying here.). Let it be known that even front man Maynard isn't quite the fan of what his fans are.and neither am I. Why so many "goth" and "metal" kids dig this music, I do not understand. Perhaps it is the disturbing, distinctly dark aura that surrounds this band and is helped by the art surrounding them as well, perhaps not. Either way, I must say that this band, and particularly this album, does not deserve the belligerence it receives. Just listen to it--more than once (it took me literal years to come to grips with the fact that, indeed, I actually liked this album), and let it sink in. The time spent will be well worth it. Just because the kid down the street likes Undertow (the band's first album) doesn't mean you can't love Lateralus. Get to it.

Now, the music:

There are about a billion reviews on this album below and above this one, so I'd not dare wasting your precious listening time, or this site's dear, dear space by composing a long-winded, detailed look into a track-by-track analysis. Instead, I'd like to take time now to note the sound this album creates, the mood it supports with its technical polyrhythmic structures and shifting times. I'd like to point out that the relentless, percussive majesty Danny Carey pours onto this album is not only magnificent, it is almost spiritually uplifting. Transcendent, yes.

That's what this album is. It is on another plane of existence, though I could never be sure if this plane was closer to heaven or to hell, but that matters not. From the driving guitars on "The Grudge" (not to be confused with the mediocre horror film of the same name), to the smooth, atmospheric bass-tones employed on the definitive "Schism"; from the climatic and lyrically competent vocals on "Parabola" to the lazy (in a good way), rainy atmospheres employed on "Disposition"; from the driving, Eastern-tinged percussion that litters that "Reflection", to the emotive and epic instrumental conclusion in "Triad", this album just shines the best, and brightest (or is it darkest?) lights music has to offer.

All of Tool's tricks and whims are expressed to their fullest potential throughout this magnificent album. This is the music of the darkest, most foreboding gods that have ever existed, and if that weren't enough to creep you out, they concluding "Faaip De Oiad" might just do it for you (it's a good approximation of the overall tone this album contains, at any rate).

From starting lick to ending white noise, this album is just spectacular--a monument in progressive music, and also in metal. So forget the goth kids and the reputation this band might have as something stereo or overplayed (true of pretty much one song, and that song is the magnificent "Stinkfist" off of the preceding album Aenima)--forget this all immediately. You owe it to yourself as a music fan to give this album a year's worth of tries. Who knows, perhaps one day you'll grow to love it as I do (that is, if you don't already). Stranger things have happened, as this album is keen to remind us; I'm not entirely sure what this album is all about, if anything, but it definitely has many hints towards astronomy, and towards hints of other life--things unexpected, and things ethereal.

And there it is, the word of the day--the word this album surely encompasses: Ethereal. Lateralus is something extraterrestrial, something vague and new; it is something perfect, and something that receives a very certain 5 stars.

Figglesnout | 5/5 |


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