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This review is from: Aenima (Audio CD)
One would expect nothing less from a band with such a manifesto: 'Our goal remains to touch our audience on a deep, psychological level'.
This is a truly groundbreaking work for the band, and for 'metal' as a whole, that rather poorly defined musical genre. Yet, Tool create and sustain their own, personal genre.
The album may be dark, with snatches of spite, justified anger and self-depreciation creeping subtely into the lyrics, yet the melancholy tendencies and anger are focused: the sheer intelligence driving these purveyors of rage is unquestionable, while the emotive and cathartic qulaities of the music only serve to entice and excite the listener further.
Of course,the music itself is breathtaking: prominently bass driven song dynamics underpin stellar drumming from one of the best in the business, along with inspirational guitar lines and Maynard's honey coated, steel wrought vocals.
Sadly,it is hard to fully praise this work without mentioning the songs themselves in some detail: loathe as I am to drag up an old cliche, in Aenima's case hearing really is believing.
However, a brief overview of the themes contained can easily differentiate this album from anything else recorded recently, possibly ever recorded: 'Stinkfist' concerns opening up to another person on a previously unexplored level, with the songs meaning delivered to us shrouded in a metaphor rather crudely suggested by the song's title, whilst Eulogy tackles the status of an unnamed friend who 'Had a lot of nothing to say' as a martyr, or otherwise.
Later tracks such as '46&2' and 'Aenima' explore Jungian philosophy and the hypothetical benefits of that 'hopeless hole' LA being 'flushed away' by a cataclysmic earthquake respectively.
In short, the album is a masterpiece of stunning musicianship and lyrical complexity-even incorporating excerpts from the late comedian Bill Hicks and numerous (criminally misunderstood, let alone necessary) segues into its fabric.
Tool not only challenge on a psychological level, they fully justify the price of the album: years on it still spins in my CD player every day.
Essential, compelling, unforgettable.