Sound — 10
Tool's sound is an evolving thing, hence the "progressive" tag that many people would stick to their name. However, Tool's diverse and otherwordly range makes them hard to "tag" at all. Factoring in Danny Carey's almost superhuman ability to master his 30 piece drum set, Justin Chancellor's serpentine style on the bass, Adam Jones' basic yet dually understated guitar playing, and of course, the both ambient and thunderous barrage of Maynard's vocals, the result is a crisp, epic cascade of bracket bending sound that boasts stellar production and the means to carry metal through yet another door.
Lyrics — 10
In my opinion Maynard James Keenan is a flawless lyricist. While some may shy away from the complex and ecclectic nature of his lyrics, those who dig deeper find that Maynard holds a vast knowledge of eastern proverb and mythological knowledge. Adding to the reverend's admirable ability with words, is his perhaps more storied singing ability. Maynard's range is obsurdly good, as well is his discipline to not over-emote. Few and far between are singer's who can lull you into eupohria with genius rhetoric and a measured croon, then tug you back to earth with thunderous scream that could freeze blood.
Overall Impression — 10
There is no comparing Tool to other bands, not even to A Perfect Circle, which so many people find easy to do. They are their own animal, a breed set apart from the rest. Lateralus is the ultimate ride, and is without question, my favorite album of all time. There is not a song on the album that is worth skipping over, as each is deep and meaningful in some way. "the Grudge" is a reminder that Tool is still in touch with their roots but moving down newer roads, "schism" is a dark and obtuse ode to society, "Parabol/Parabola" are the shimmering couple that celebrate the human spirit, and "Lateralus" may be the greatest of Tool's gems, as no other song has ever sent such chills down my spine and moved me so far and away. Godliness. In all, Lateralus is our 'Dark side of the Moon', it is our era's epic symphony and will remain a timeless example of why Tool are masters of their craft.