596 of 614 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE progressive masterpiece to kick off the 21st century.
You do not listen to this album...you surrender yourself to it. The experience of Lateralus penetrates deeper than the brain -- it is deeply spiritual and uplifting. Sonically, the dark sound works powerfully with MJ Keenan's dynamic, unique vocals and lyrical messages. Whether he's questioning emotional dichotomies ("Schism") or reflecting on a difficult spiritual...
Published on April 3, 2002 by Lord Chimp
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A great album on a not-so-great-medium.
Lateralus is my favorite rock/metal album of all-time. I thought it was about time to get a vinyl version. However, I was extremely disappointed with the sound of this album in picture-disc format. There is an extreme amount of surface noise on the record which includes a constant background hiss and way too many pops and clicks for a new record. In addition, the more...
Published on January 23, 2013 by N. Hill
Most Helpful First | Newest First
596 of 614 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE progressive masterpiece to kick off the 21st century.,
You do not listen to this album...you surrender yourself to it. The experience of Lateralus penetrates deeper than the brain -- it is deeply spiritual and uplifting. Sonically, the dark sound works powerfully with MJ Keenan's dynamic, unique vocals and lyrical messages. Whether he's questioning emotional dichotomies ("Schism") or reflecting on a difficult spiritual sojourn ("The Grudge"), there is a dark, brutal beauty to this music.
Few bands have a collegiality that matches that of Tool. With the exception of drummer Danny Carey, this is not a band of virtuoso musicians. What separates them from the rest is their united, progressive artistic vision and originality. Danny Carey's drumming is octopus-like, modulating every passage with rhythms I can't begin to understand. Put together with rest of the crew, the opaque instrumentation creates music of endless shades and layers, with time signature changes a supercomputer couldn't crack. There is magic here. Powerful, crunching riffs are foiled often by placid, narcotic passages, generating an album that only rarely "rocks." Instead, it's heavily cerebral, dark, beautiful...and ultimately indefinable. For a band that's selling millions of albums and getting mainstream recognition, they still carry an uncompromising progressive aesthetic.
Ignore those who make the asinine comment that "Tool sold out." All other factors being equal, this is Tool's _least_ commercially viable album. Frankly, I think it's fairly remarkable that they passed off a 7-minute music video ("Schism") onto MTV. (Credit the amusingly surreal video, I guess.) I guess when a band like this becomes popular, the so-called fans dismiss quality for the sake of remaining "hardcore." With lots of 8-minute songs, numerous melody shifts, texturally complex movements, world influences, enigmatic lyrics, this is not an album that can be easily digested. Aenima was complex in its own right, but is was nothing like _this_. I've had Lateralus for almost a year (at the time of this writing), and it remains as arresting as ever. It's so deep, I'm not sure I'll ever see the bottom; it's so high, I might never reach it. (Yes, I like that book.)
And yet in telling you all of this, I've told you nothing. I think the best music is the hardest to describe. Lateralus comfortably lands in that category.
We often hear, in a denigrating tone, "Yeah, that Lateralus is so self-indulgent." Quite. Tool made the album they wanted to make, with commercial considerations thrown out the window. Of course it's self-indulgent -- this isn't commercial pabulum. Clearly, Tool's objective wasn't to make _you_ happy, it was to make _themselves_ happy. This is what separates art from products.
Tool, strangely, managed to produce high art that remains a viable product. We expect mainstream rock to be dominated by bands like Creed, Nickelback, and Staind...not Tool. None of this matters, though. Whether it sells 10 million copies or 10 thousand, great music is great music. We don't need Rolling Stone or MTV to tell us that.
62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Progress(ive),
Thankfully, Tool aren't one of the bands that you expect to make the same album again and again. Each new release, sparse as they are, moves the sound and approach of the band on in a new direction. And for all of you people worried that Lateralus might just be a re-tread of old territory... It's not. It's very hard to give an in-depth review of something that's only been in your posession for 24 hours, but I feel that I've got enough of a grip now to write a bit. The things that immediately hit me: 1) Production. It's less "mushy" than Aenima. Not suggesting that Aenima was badly produced, the sound worked great for the music. But Lateralus has cleaner sounds, generally. Adam Jones' guitar is still huge and crunchy, but it doesn't obscure the rhythm section in the way that it used to. The drum sound is superb, and the variety of lovely bass tones on the album are a nice surprise. I have to admit, "lovely" was never a word I'd previously associated with Tool and bass. 2) Maynard sounds quite a bit different. In the same way that his vocals changed between Undertow and Aenima, they've shifted again here. There's a fair bit of stuff that sounds like A Perfect Circle, but there's also some viscious distorted screaming that sounds harsher than anything I can recall on Aenima. 3) Rhythm. This album goes through almost every time signature in the book! The album kicks off in 5/8 (or 3/4 subdivided into quintuplets.. you choose!) on The Grudge, and stays similarly obtuse for much of the album. You've got to love a band this popular that releases a single with sections in 13/8! 4) Long songs. Sometimes they hold sections for what seems like a very long time, longer than on any of the previous releases. These tracks worked better for me when I was lying in bed in the dark, with the music up floor-shakingly loud. It's almost like listening to a drum&bass track - you don't expect fast changes, more a hypnotic wash. 5) Great quiet sections! Eon Blue Apocalypse vaguely reminded me of some of Bill Frisell's guitar tones on Grand Guignol (the track, not the album) by John Zorn/Naked City, and the other "segue" tracks (like Mantra) are equally pretty. All in all, a lot to get your ears around. Considering the level of anticipation surrounding this album, the fact that it's not a massive let-down is a vast achievement in itself. And I'm still laughing over the fact that Schism was the #1 new release in terms of radio airplay in the states. Seven minutes long, with some slightly baffling odd time signatures and lyrics that aren't exactly of the "I did it all for the nookie" variety. I love these guys!
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vaya con Dios.,
_Lateralus_ defies any description one can muster with the English language. German would be a better choice, but even then one must inevitably find the words to be failing. This is the 21st century's paragon of progressive rock -- a work of art so deep there probably is no bottom.
If you are still reading, I have not yet been dismissed as a sycophantic Tool freak. This album is a uniquely spiritual experience for me. It can be heavy and dark and brooding, but ultimately _Lateralus_ is cathartic for the soul. Even "Ticks & Leeches", the angriest song on the album, is a purifying release. The culmination of the record's power, found in the "Discipline/Reflection/Triad" trilogy, is like the musical embodiment of a spiritual sojourn -- the soulful cry of Adam Jones' guitar, the crippling rumble of Justin Chancellor's bass, the elephant stampede of Danny Carey's drums, the winding croon of Maynard James Keenan's vocal. Individually, they are interesting but it is their magical synergy that makes Tool unique (among other things). No band creates the aural panorama Tool does -- no one comes anywhere close. They are utterly beyond compare. I would trace back some influence to King Crimson, obviously, but I believe influences are also rooted in abstract mathematics and the ancient musical vernacular of Africa, and who knows what else.
Now I'm probably just sounding capricious and fanciful. I thought I was coming to a point with the review, but I don't really think there was one. Hmm. Well, I used to like this album a lot. I grew to love it. Now I am so overwhelmed by its greatness that I can only stand paralyzed during its full 79 minutes. Only then can I devote my full attention to the music, and truthfully, I don't think I have a choice -- _Lateralus_ obliges the entirety of my brain. No album has the effect on me that this does. I'm almost scared of what Tool will do next.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some extra thoughts,
By A Customer
I went through a number of reviews to find some other opinions, and I was, quite frankly, stunned. There were a number of super negative reviews that stated the album was boring, or uninspired, or just not old Tool. Where have we heard this before? Old Metallica vs. new Metallica. Why is it that artists are not allowed to evolve? The day of Opiate has long come and gone, folks. People cannot be this angry forever! Why can't an artist grow and learn and express this in their music? If you were fortunate enough to see just one show on the entire Lateralus tour, you would understand the sheer beauty of this album. There are sonic landscapes that undulate with gorgeous melody and darkness and elation and sadness. Many said that several songs were repetative. I personally don't mind hearing a great melody or a fantastic riff several times in repetition. I am reminded of a line from the movie Amadeus here where the emperor claims that Mozart's opera has "too many notes." He responds with "there are neither more nor less than I require." So it is with Tool. There is a contemplative tone to the entire album. I've heard many mention "dimestore Buddhism" as a comparison for the lyrical content of this album. My opinion of this is better dimestore Buddhism than anything Britney or Limp Bizkit or N'Sync has to say. The aim here is to create music that takes you to a new awareness - a new awareness of yourself and maybe *just maybe* inspires you to create something of your own or to read some new books and think about things in a different light. I know that this will not be an album for everyone, but I just couldn't believe that people were actually calling it "garbage" when there is SO MUCH music being produced now that truly DESERVES that label. It's unfortunate that many "old" Tool fans were really not fans at all...instead, they were meathead metal fans who liked to go to concerts and mosh around all angry... at the world. The members of Tool are older. We all are. Time to grow up a bit and begin to reflect. And I said it before, simply the most important album I own.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An epic journey - Tool cannot be a band!,
My god - after listening to Lateralus about 6 times through, it becomes apparant that you're not listening to a band - you're experiencing an epic work of art! From start to finish, the album never lets you go. A recurring theme for Tool has been to think for yourself, question everything. If this masterpiece of an album doesn't send a wakeup call to the crappy pop 'artists' and rap-metal 'bands' out there, I don't know what the heck will! On to a track by track review:
1) The Grudge - this track opens up fast and furious, with slower parts as well as fast ones. Adam and Justin's incredible instrumental work is very notable in this song. Maynard also has a growl that is unlike anything I've heard.
2) Eon Blue Apocalypse - Relaxing guitars, serves as a good interlude between a fast song like Grudge and a more APC-like movement called...
3) The Patient - Sounds like a cross between H and Third Eye (the guitar riffs sound very much like the ones in Third Eye). A very relaxing song which builds and builds to the end which really makes you want to praise Billy Howerdel for starting A Perfect Circle.
4) Mantra - lots of chanting. Another interlude between a slow song and a song that's a little bit quicker. Actually, the chanting sounds like one of my friend's word-chewed vocal chords, Chad. :)
5) Schism - a single that isn't 3 minutes long - what a concept! I can't put this song into words - even one of the less intense songs on Lateralus is better than almost any other piece of crap other bands put out.
6) Parabol - good lead-in to Parabola. Slowest song on Lateralus, Maynard's vocals are so incredible here, makes me want to weep!
7) Parabola - fast and furious, kind of like a remix of Parabol. You can't listen to Parabola without listening to Parabol.
8) Ticks & Leeches - The hardest song on the CD, this one goes back to Opiate days. Maynard growling "HOPE THIS IS WHAT YOU WANTED" makes you want to raise your fist in the air. Awesome stuff. Nice breakdown in the middle.
9) Lateralis - This is the Tool national anthem. "Think for yourself" runs throughout this song. The time meter is very screwed up so you can't really 'mosh' to it, which I find very ironic and fitting. :) Forces you to LISTEN to the music and words.
10) Disposition - Intro to quite possibly the most intense... movement (I won't call it a song, it's too incredible to be one).. that I've ever heard.
11) Reflection - Listen to this at 2AM, with the lights off, with headphones on. Is it me, or did Trent's touring with APC rub off on Tool here. GODLY stuff here, man! Best Tool I've ever heard.
12) Triad - very hard outro to end the trilogy. No lyrics - just lots of hard percussion and guitars/bass.
13) Faaip De Oiad - Gaping Lotus Project/Disgustipated reminscent. Fun for the whole family.
This was so easily worth the five year wait - I can't begin to express how I felt when I purchased this on the 14th (my local record store sells stuff early sometimes, hehe). If you haven't bought this album yet, there's something wrong with you. This will go down in history with Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". Get it!@!@!@
38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Tool... What else is there to say?,
Well, where to start?
Melodically, Tool use mainly minor pentatonic scales. Being used prolificly in Medieval and Renaissance times, this lends a dark brooding beauty to Tool's music. It recalls dark ages of suspicion, prejudice, and simmering emotional discord. Tool also throw in non-Western melodic influences, with the flattened second scale degree, and the augmented second interval. Vistas of magical cultures are realised before our eyes, times and places beyond our mortal existence.
Rhythmically, Tool are an ever changing beast. Non symmetrical time signatures abound, there is little reliance on 'groove' to power the music. There is a kind of logical beauty to Tool's anisotropic rhythms, resembling the unearthly splendour that arises out of geometrical abstractions. The ethereal passage in 'Schism' floats in and out of space-time, carrying the sullen desire of a thousand lost and weary souls. The rhythm escapes physical restraints, venturing beyond what is thought possible.
Harmonically, Tool's exploration rarely ventures beyond the implications of the melodic framework. It is all heavy and doom laden, drenched in the sorrow of minor keys and non-Western scales. But within the vocabulary of a child, Tool speak with the poise and grace of a wisened adult. Harmonies soar with unity and simplicity, but drive straight to the essential being of existence.
Texturally, astral passages traverse the crowded mappings within oppressive and heavy spaces. Hurricanes are as common as light rain, and the eye of the storm is beautiful but ponderous. No respite is offered, sanctuary does not exist in Tool's universal vision. Fierce guitar tussles with haunting vocals, the bass worms it's way through lightless underground depths, while the drums mesmerise in their subtle isomorphisms and overt power.
Structurally, Tool play with chronological order, the very fabric of time is bent back upon itself. To enter Tool's physical universe is to abandon our own. There is no escape. Melodic themes are presented, then translated by violations of natural order. Motives are twisted by amorphous rhythms, yet the harmony remains discernible and somewhat stable. It is the sole acknowledgement to the world that was the point of departure. Souls are devoured in labyrinthine structures. Even the structures are devoured within the chaos, and spat out as perversely inverted reflections of the original. At the end, nothing is as it was, yet the point of arrival is a logical progression from the beginning.
In a new universe, we cannot possibly fathom why we understand the journey experienced, but we do. It is upon this realisation that the full impact of this new world occurs. The physical is no more. Only the soul survives, only the pure spiritual nature of ourselves.
Put together, the elements of Tool's music create an entity which is altogether umbrageous, anxious, melancholy, haunting, enlightening, cerebral, assurgent; in fact, beyond all superlatives. To put it simply, no other band do what Tool do. They must be treasured.
A jewel of human soul.
41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OH MY GOD,
By A Customer
I have been a Tool fan for some time now. The CD that got me into them was, like most other people's, 1996's AEnima. And I thought that was a great album. Little did I know. Their most recent album "Lateralus" is a departure from the more traditional metal sound of bands such as Staind, Cold, and Limp Bizkit. The album's first track, "The Grudge", sets the tone for this mind-expanding record. About nine minutes long, this song will do nothing less than cause a massive coronary heart attack, epileptic seizures, a few tears, and a big smile. The CD continues with both songs and interludes that add to the flow of the album. Among my favorites are "The Grudge", "Schism", "The Patient", and "Ticks and Leeches". If you are a musician and understand time signatures, prepare to be amazed. Danney Carey's drumming will make any prospective or experienced drummer cry. Maynard's voice is much more powerful this time around, pulling off a straight scream at the top of his lungs for 25 seconds straight in "The Grudge". Adam Jones' guitar mastery is both haunting and introspective. As for Justin Chancellor, the bassist, listen to the beginning of "Schism". 'Nuff said. In my opinion, this album far exceeds "AEnima" and "Undertow" because it flows much smoother as an album and is much more musical and imaginative. If you are a fan of Tool, then you should already have this. If you are new to the band, then I would suggest "Undertow" or "AEnima" as first albums simply because they are easier to digest. Simply put, this is an incredible album that should be used as an example of what hard rock music should really be: hard-hitting, musical, and emotional. Bow down to the king.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rich and challenging.,
I'd always figured Tool was a lame "nu-metal" band with reams of angst and minimal talent.
However, this album had become the focus of a discussion among progressive metal fans whose opinions I highly respected. I was hearing some interesting adjectives applied to them: "intricate," "original," "intelligent," "progressive." I was interested, but still skeptical. These guys were popular, after all, and I assumed that they were appealing to the lowest common denominator like so many""nu-metal" bands.
My curiosity was compounded when I saw the phenomenal music video for "Schism" on MTV. It was a delightfully surreal pictorial essay with a theme of renewal and emotional interaction (I think). Although the video is excellent, the music also captured my ear. I was unable to get that final menacing line, "I know the pieces fit," out of my head. The song possessed interesting progressions, complex syncopations, and good deal of musical muscle. I could tell these guys were more than a "let's scream and bang on guitars and drums and sound angry" band. (Also known as a "nu-metal" band...if that stuff is your cup of tea, you are at this point invited to hit "Not Helpful.")
So I bought Lateralus. Initially, it appealed to me because of the mystery of the compositions, and the understated imagination of their music. I found it self-consciously alienating, for it is very dark and eschews melodic hooks. I suspected the album was a challenge, so I persevered. The excellent production lends to that mystery...it is very bass-heavy and Keenan's distinctive voice is sometimes barely audible, like a forlorn spectre. At other times, he's incredibly visceral and venemous, with a telling, indignant quality that perfectly fits with music so oppressively bleak. With each listen, I found something new, and as I began to follow the lyrics (note: get them from the Tool's site), things began to click. I started understanding the deliberate austerity of the music and appreciating it from an artistic perspective. It's experimental, somewhat unsettling, and tense.
And this is not the kind of stuff that beats you over the head with a loud, raucous song in four minutes. The average song length here is 8 minutes or so (not including the segues and track 13). This allows the band to express more lush ideas with their music, and be more experimental. Many songs contain hard, crushing moments balanced by slower, quieter moments. It only rarely "rocks"...Tool likes to draw you in with hypnotizing rhythms, sweeping textures, and crafty orchestrations instead of "rocking out."
And I am tremendously impressed by their work. This isn't progressive metal in the same vein as Dream Theater or Symphony X. In fact, I hesitate to call it metal. It IS heavy, but it's very subtle and insinuating. However, it is _progressive_ in that it does new things, pushes boundaries of categorization, and challenges the listener. This is the kind of music that requires some effort to "get" (as in understand), but it's a satisfying achievement to experience it.
One of the best albums out in 2001 so far, I'd say. (It would get extra stars just for the cool packaging, but I can't give it 6/5.)
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innovation at its finest,
Tool's previous albums, namely Undertow and AEnima, were important milestones in progressive metal (if it can be said that Tool fits within a genre), and were certainly important for their time. Thanks to Undertow, countless bands that attempted to copy Tool's sound sprung up and flooded the airwaves with similar-sounding, trite music. AEnima was the logical - albeit unprecedented - next step, and few, if any, bands have been able to imitate its sound. Henceforth, although its influence will be felt for many years to come, it's unlikely that any band will be able to come close to the near-perfection present on Lateralus.
This record is nothing less than a masterpiece. All tracks are highlights; rating each one individually would be a waste of time. However, as a fan who has seen Tool (Adam Jones, guitar; Danny Carey, drums; Justin Chancellor, bass; Maynard James Keenan, vocals) replicate these songs live, I can say that the true standouts on this record are "The Grudge" and the closing 3-part trilogy. "The Grudge", as an opening statement, is about as powerful as you could hope for - intense meter shifts, pounding articulation, and overall groove separate it from the pack. It should be noted that on this song, as on all others, Tool displays an adept touch at manipulating dynamic contrast. AEnima featured the loud-soft shadings that Nirvana brought to the fore, but Lateralus takes it several steps further. Dynamics range from pianissimo to triple forte on this record, hitting all stops in between. These dynamics are most noticeable on "The Grudge".
From there we get more incredible tracks, including the interesting bass/guitar interplay of "Eon Blue Apocalypse", and the dirge-like, incredibly dynamically varied (again) pulse of "The Patient". Maynard delivers positive and interesting performances, both lyrically and musically, throughout, and this track is no different. He uses the metaphor of recovering from illness/addiction quite adeptly and somehow the message is supported by the band's playing (a characteristic inherent in all great records). After "The Patient", the weird sounds of "Mantra" segue into "Schism", which most everyone has probably heard by now, so I won't detail it too much. It definitely is more radio-friendly than the other songs, but that doesn't diminish its impact.
The first suite, "Parabol"/"Parabola", kicks off with a low-in-the-mix guitar figure, echoed by Maynard's soothing, preacher-like mentality. It builds from there into an epic rock song with more traditional loud-soft dynamics. This song was also a single and video, so many of you have probably heard it already. "Ticks and Leeches" is a conventional (by Tool standards), chops-driven performance with an expansive breakdown in the middle. It includes pounding drums, loud riffing by guitar and bass, and lots of screaming from Maynard. The lyrics are probably symbolic, but you can always take visceral comfort in the instrumental attack of Tool's more-than-capable rhythm section.
A stadium-ready guitar riff opens "Lateralus", the title track on the album, and is joined around a minute later by the fade-in of Carey and Chancellor, who again concoct a furious groove. This song employs a unique mathematical twist: The number 987 (a term of the Fibonacci Sequence) is also a motif for the pre-verse: its time signature cycles through 9/8, 8/8, and 7/8 before repeating. The "spiraling" nature of the Fibonacci Sequence, when graphed, was likely an inspiration for the lyrics, which include lines like "Spiral out/Keep going". A true epic, this song was the closer on the Lateralus tour, but here is only one highlight among an album full of them.
After "Lateralus" the real fun starts. "Disposition", "Reflection", and "Triad" form a connected, 3-part suite that, yes, was performed live on the Lateralus tour. I will condone from going into an extreme explanation of the trilogy's many parts; rather, I suggest you explore it for yourself (and try to figure out if that really is a violin in "Reflection"). In this trilogy, beautiful melodies abound, and while the playing of the band is superb, every component of the sound is perfectly balanced, adding even more sonic weight to this 23-minute epic. Instruments such as tabla, acoustic guitar, violin(?), and sequencer are prominently featured, and lend the piece an ethereal vibe unlike any other. Needless to say, check it out for yourself. After the glorious trilogy, "Faaip de Oiad", which is an excerpt from an Art Bell broadcast set to machinery, closes the set. It's very strange, but seems right, considering this is a Tool album.
There's not much more I could say about Lateralus that isn't regurgitation of already overdone jubilation over the record. But it really IS that good. And like all truly great albums, it only gets better with repeated listenings. If Tool can top this album, they will be the metal gods of today - if they can't, this album will still serve as their magnum opus of epic proportions, a true artistic statement of unadulerated bliss. Only time will tell. And you, dear reader, should run out and experience all of this as soon as possible.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not an album, it's an EXPERIENCE,
I got this cd a couple of days ago and I've listened to it 8 or 9 times all the way through already. There is not a song on this cd that isn't absoloutely beautiful in some way. From the genuinely "pretty" songs like The Patient(amazing) to the horribly nasty pretty sounds of Ticks and Leeches. This album really blew me away. It took a few listens to really digest, due to it's epic nature, but the delay was worth the musical bliss that accompanies each listen. It's not an overall hard and fast album(although it has it's moments of that as well), it is a musical EXPERIENCE that everyone should try, reguardless of your usual musical taste. The songs are so complex, so layered, that it is IMPOSSIBLE to digest in one sitting. I suggest casually listening through the cd the first couple or three times, then actually sit and think about the music. Absorb it, analyze it. It has an amazing dearth of radio-hit material, due mostly to the really long songs(which never get old due to the twist and turns that occurs in the songs). But this only further validates Tool as musicians and artists first, and as a product to be marketed a distant second.
Also worth mentioning is the awesoe packaging. I'm not going to try to describe it, just trust me when I say the art is very, very cool.
Most Helpful First | Newest First