Undertow Review

artist: tool date: 08/10/2010 category: compact discs
tool: Undertow
Released: 1993
Genre: Rock
Tones: Hostile, Angry, Bleak, Brooding, Bitter, Aggressive, Malevolent, Nihilistic, Menacing
Styles: Heavy Metal, Alternative Metal, Progressive Metal
Number Of Tracks: 10
 Sound: 9
 Lyrics: 8.3
 Overall Impression: 8.7
 Overall rating:
 8.9 
 Reviewer rating:
 8.7 
 Users rating:
 9 
 Votes:
 75 
reviews (3) 18 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8
Undertow Reviewed by: JLM, on november 29, 2007
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: You just can't say that there is a bad Tool album. You may not like, but it is imperative that you recognize quality when you listen to it. Undertow is not the perfect example to show Tool's ability, but it should be the first album that you should listen to. Why? Because by listening to all the albuns in chronologic order you get a much better notion of the band's sound evolution. In this first Tool LP we are given a very crude and matchless sound. The musical structures aren't very complex (I mean in a Tool context of course), though we are given right from the beginning the impression that this band has something different than the others. However, songs like Sober, because of it's very charateristic bassline, or Prison Sex", which has a a catchy guitar riff, besides the relatively simple musical structure of both, may iniciate the most unexperienced listeners into Tool's atmosphere, where themes like agressivity and anger are predominant, and uniquely fused with the vocal lines. The guitar sounds like hard rock, but if you're expecting a technical show-off, you'll feel disappointed. Despite the fact that Adam Jones plays, in fact, a solo in the final part of Bottom, that's not what Tool is about. Tool's guitar is about giving you a load of energy that will kick you out of your chair. We cannot say that any instrument coducts the music, but Adam's guitar works is naturally remarkable in some parts. As for the bass, Paul D'Amour wasn't really the best bassist for Tool, and that was confirmed by his desistence after Aenima. Although we do notice some good basslines, a band like Tool demands more. If you have listened closely and you are into Tool's scene, you've certainly noticed the fantastic evolution that the band suffered with Justin Chancellor. But unfortunately that's not the case here. Finally, when you talk about Danny Carey, you should keep in mind that very few drummers were able to reach the top, and he was certainly one of them, no doubt about it. Once more, this isn't the best album to get to know his work. For Tool listeners, this album sounds like a warming up. Listen to Lateralus and you'll be crushed. // 8

Lyrics: Maynard is one of the greatest and most influential lyricists of all time, at least for me. The ability of showing what you feel through words and in an original way, without being repetitive, specially when you talk about relations, isn't easy at all. On this album, Maynard James Keenan focused more on human relationships, retreating anger, regret, and sorrow feelings. But the main thing about him, I guess, is the way he faces life and, consequently, death, and that is related to the most extreme human experiences (like sex, for example). Maynard is a teacher, and every lyric is a lesson. Read some from the album Lateralus and you'll see my point. By the way, MJK is a proser: do not expect great rhymes, but do expect great lyrics. Just think about what he says. The vocals in this album aren't technically demonstrative of Maynard's skills, but, again, you get the idea that this guy has something different something better, of course. Some good vocal work is evidenced on songs like Sober and specially Bottom, in which he shows his trademark: a breathtaking and powerful scream. But if you're looking to something more advanced, not only in terms of lyrics, but also concerning to vocal skills, creativity and power, you'd better listen to Aenima and Lateralus. // 8

Overall Impression: Like I said in the beginning, this album is only a very small sample of what Tool can give us, nevertheless I think is a very good way for you to get started into the band's environment. There is nothing that I hate in Tool in any way. My favourite songs are Bottom and Sober, though it seems to me that Bottom is underrated and the other one is overrated. But that's just me, it's your call now, listen to the album, and please do listen to the other LP's aswell. // 8

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overall: 9.3
Undertow Reviewed by: musiccrave1028, on february 19, 2008
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Adam Jones's style is awesome. His riff making is great! Check out the song Prison Sex to see what I mean. That song is the best song on the album, I think anyway. The drum playing was great and I really like how the bass lines and the guitar riffs mix together. The vocalist has so much emotion and sounds amazing when singing on these tracks. This makes the music all the better. The best thing about Tool is everyone in the group is talented and knows how to make thing that are different work. // 10

Lyrics: They are just about angry thing throught the album. I don't care much for the lyrics of a song though. The lyrics fit well with the type of playing though, and did sound very good. The vocals are amazing in capturing the message of the song. Check out Bottom to see his amazing singing skills. Tool's singer really can sing unlike all these mainstreem bands who have these whiny, stuoid singers. (That means you Marron 5.) If you are angry or just not in a mood, this will really get your emotions running. // 9

Overall Impression: Well, I would have given it a 10 except for the last track which was a 15 minute waste of time. All it was, was a whole bunch of noises that got annoying and right when you think they'll play the song, more noises come in. The most impressive songs on this album are Prison Sex, Sober, and Crawl Away. I loved everything about the album except for the last song, as I said before. If this was stolen from me I would buy another one. If it was stolen again after that I would buy it again. Then if it was stolen again I would buy something else. // 9

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overall: 8.7
Undertow Reviewed by: patbuck2, on august 10, 2010
2 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: My first impression of the band's sound and the music itself on this album was that the album sounds quite different from Lateralus and 10, 000 Days. It's definitely more "metal" orientated than "prog" orientated. +An interesting story I can attach is that I've read in an interview with Adam that most of the songs on Undertow were already written when they released Opiate, but they wanted to wait to release the songs on Undertow because they wanted to show off their aggressive metal side on Opiate as their first release. +The style of this album is a more "heavy metal" sound than compared to their later releases. As far as innovations, they did experiment with some cool sounds on some of the songs with ambient moments in songs like Bottom, Flood, and the long filler epic Disgustipated. +I'd also like to share that this song has a rather humorous number of 69 tracks and it is 69 minutes long. Whether or not that was intentional is unknown to me, but kind of funny. I didn't learn until after listening a few times that the album doesn't end with Flood. I waited too long once and found Disgustipated after the silence. // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics on this album have some of the anger of Opiate, but are a little more "sophisticated" as compared to the stuff they've done with Justin. Dealing with some personal and emotion issues along with the philosophical is definitely typical Tool. +The lyrics compliment the music well, just like all of Tool's music. Maynard's vocals and lyrics are like another instrument that adds to the overall sound. +As far as singer skills, Maynard got a little better on this album, but still sounds quite pissed off like in Opiate. He does do some of that "loud-quiet" stuff that became signature of the band and many bands from that same era. // 8

Overall Impression: I can compare this album to Opiate and some of the sounds of Aenima. It is definitely very similar to Opiate. I don't want to compare it to any albums by any other artists, though. As far as how I like it compared to the other Tool albums, I rank this one as a third favorite behind Lateralus and Aenima. +The most impressive songs (i.e. my favorites) on Undertow are Sober, Prison Sex, Bottom, and Flood. Sober was one of the first songs that got me into Tool and Paul's pounding D chord still gets my heart racing. Prison Sex is good because it seems to be sort of preparing the listener for what's to come in later Tool releases. Bottom is just has great guitar riffs and Henry Rollins' spoken word interlude is great. Flood is sort of like an epic to me. It reminds me a lot of The Melvins. The fuzzy bass intro reminds me of Boris. +What I love about this album is the great influence of The Melvins and Black Sabbath mixing together with a little bit of the progressive stuff that was to come later in the band's career. I love the guitar and bass riffs on this album, too. I guess what I don't like about the album is that some of the songs aren't very good to me, just kind of bland to me some times. Also, Disgustipated gets annoying after a few listens and I usually stop the album at Flood nowadays. +If it were stolen or lost, I would replace it because I love Tool's music that much. I am happy to spend my money on them. // 9

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More Tool reviews rating latest review
+ Lateralus 9.8 02/18/2014
+ Aenima 9.6 07/14/2011
+ Opiate 8.9 08/10/2010
+ 10,000 Days 9.2 08/06/2010
+ Salival 8.8 02/18/2005
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