Lateralus review by Tool

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  • Released: May 14, 2001
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 9.7 (274 votes)
Tool: Lateralus

Sound — 10
Personally, I love every Tool album, but this is mostly likely my favorite. Everything on this album is basically perfect. From the sometimes vague, but always powerful lyrics of Maynard James Keenan, to the tight, complex, and amazing music of the band (comprised of Adam Jones-Guitar, Justin Chancellor-Bass Guitar, and Danny Carey-Drums). To get the complete scope of this album, I will describe every track individually. 01.The Grudge: as far as opening tracks go, this is nearly perfect. The musicianship is super tight, with all the members of the band at their best. The song is very heavy, and has some amazing riffs! Plus, Maynard is on top form, producing one of his absolutely best screams. 02.Eon Blue Apocalypse: a very short, yet beautiful, instrumental bridge to the next song. This is mostly a showcase of Adam Jone's guitar skills. 03.The Patient: an amazing song, which begins with a soft guitar line, and a watery wah-bass line. The song lulls the listener into a false sense of security, before bashing it with a powerful riff, and anthemic chorus. The song continues in this fashion, shifting between moods, before finishing off with yet another powerful riff and chorus. 04.Mantra: another fantastic bridge, that is a perfect mood setter for the song that is yet to come. The track contains no lyrics or instrumentation, and is basically just eerie noise and atmosphere. 05.Schism: while the band as a whole is amazing on this track, I would consider this Justin's showcase of skill and style, shifting between tine signatures as if they don't exist. Beginning with a quietly picked bass intro, and then hitting into the infamous bass riff. The song then shifts between the hypnotizing verses, and heavy and exhilarating bridges. The song then shifts into a peaceful bridge, before finishing with the heaviest riff of the song. 06.Parabol: while some consider this just another transition song, I consider this part one of a whole song. This could be considered the calm before the storm. I consider this song the peaceful introduction to the sheer piece of metal that is to follow. The lyrics are very similar, if not identical to it's sister song, but as the songs piece together, it is clear that is basically the only thing they have in common. 07.Parabola: the song is very immediate, kicking in with full force. The riff is heavy, and straight to the point, while still remaining the mood of the first half. Maynard and the band maintain a huge groove through the song, with his singing gaining top position on this piece of music. Overall, a fantastic song. 08.Ticks & Leeches: by far, the heaviest and most brutal song on the whole album. This song reaches back early into Tool's career and echoes Opiate/Undertow era brutality, while marrying that with a new found sense of melody. Kicking in with an amazing drum intro, it is clear from the get go that Danny is going to lead the band all the way. Maynard has rule over this song, with his overpowering screams and wails. His vocals are just as brutal and heavy as the music, and shows that his voice can still kick the sh*t out of any other singer in the music business. 09.Lateralus: - This could possibly be Tool's best song ever, in my opinion. I consider this 9 and a half minutes of pure perfection. The intro starts with a quiet and peaceful guitar riff, but it is clear with the rumbling double bass drum in the background, that keeps slowly getting louder, this peace is not going to last long. When the double bass drum sounds as if it gets an louder the speakers might explode, the first heavy riff kicks in. With the force of a freight train, this riff just beats the listener, before heading into the verse, where Maynard whispers his lyrics in the front of Danny's powerhouse drumming. After Maynard stops singing, Justin and Adam quietly join in, before heading into the chorus. After repeating this one more time, Adam takes center stage with a wah-driven solo, before a bridge, that seems to repeat the intro, only in reverse. Adam then takes another amazing solo, before the outro. The riff that comes after the solo is extremely simple, but unbelievably heavy. Maynard's vocals are just as powerful as the bands intense riffing, yelling out his lyrics with such conviction, it's almost impossible to not get carried away with the intensity. The band then comes crashing down with an outro that is the perfect complement to the masterpiece that just followed. 10.Disposition: the first song in the end cycle of songs that ends the album. The song is based around another of Justin's genius bass riffs, with this one relying on harmonics. Adam and Danny join in, complementing Justin's bass in the perfect manor. Maynard's singing is almost hypnotic, bordering on beautiful. 11.Reflection: the longest song on the album, and the second song in the climatic cycle of the album. The song builds on the song that just preceded it, again relying on a fantastic Justin Bass riff. The song just seems to fall together, with it's mesmerizing rhythms and hypnotizing melodies. The minutes seem to melt away, and by the end, the listener is left in disbelief that they just listened to and 11 minute long song 12.Triad: the final song in the cycle is an extended instrumental/jam, that is just amazing. Every member pulls out all the stops, and almost elevates the song into a competition, while still maintaining an element of teamwork and cooperation, that makes this song fantastic, and almost transcendent. It is clear that Tool new that this was the only right way to end an album of this caliber. 13.Faaip de Oiad: a small outro to the album, that evolves from static and feedback, to a frazzled phone message from a so-called ex-agent from the top-secret Area 51. A great glimpse into the fascination Tool has with the extraterrestrial.

Lyrics — 10
Lyrically, Maynard is sometimes vague with the first listen, but will slowly bloom into meaning upon repeated plays. While older Tool albums relied on anger and angst to push the lyrics forward, but Maynard seems to have gotten inner peace, and some sort of faith, so the lyrics stray from the rage, and tackle much more broad subject matter. While the anger is still relevant in some songs (particularly Ticks & Leeches), but they also tackle faith (Parabol and Parabola), relationships (Schism), and self-insight (Disposition and Reflection). While Maynard is not a pissed off and full of rage, he is still one of, if not the absolute best singer in modern Hard Rock/Heavy Metal. He can scream, wail, yell, shout, whisper, and sing in a variety of ways, full of skill and passion. The spiteful yells of old are gone, replaced with vocals that suit the new style of Tool's music perfectly. Far more lyrically evolved from it's predecessors, Lateralus is full of a variety of subjects, power and meaning, and incredible vocals.

Overall Impression — 10
While Lateralus does not contain the sheer power of Opiate, rage of Undertow, or the Psychedelic Heavy Metal of nima, it does contain everything that makes Tool, Tool. Melody within chaos, seamless blending of time signatures, entering a song with peaceful riffs and melodies, and then exploding into heavy riffs without ever putting out the impression that they are even trying. It is almost impossible to choose the best songs on the album, since every song seems to be a piece to a much larger, much more powerful piece of music. This album seems to be almost a puzzle of sorts, that only can be unlocked if the songs are played in order, and completely. While the songs are almost perfect when listened to individually or in pairs, there is something almost transcendent about the whole album when listed to in it's complete form. This album is as close as Progressive Metal can get to sheer perfection.

11 comments sorted by best / new / date

    TOOl is the best ****ing band ever, you can't write lyrics better than Maynard, you can't play the guitar like Adam Jones, you can't be so simple yet complicated like Justin, and you'll never have separate brains in your legs and head like Danny Carey, You just flat out can't beat the creativity and versatility of tool, they are simply the best, i don't care what people think that's my ****ing opinion and i'm sticking to it. Go ****ing Tool, i hope they come out with another album, oh that would be nice. No that be epic.
    Root Beer
    Here's the best way to describe the relationship between AEnima and Lateralus. If AEnima is all about what's wrong with humanity, Lateralus is all about humanity's potential.
    Root Beer
    Soozy wrote: Sorry for posting again, but... I'm goin to be honest and say the lyrical content is a disapointment, where's the message? Where's the real I'm going to put my balls on the line and show people exactly whats wrong with them? ...Really? These are some of the (if not the) best lyrics you'll find in rock music today. Listen to/read them again.
    Saying they're some of the best lyrics ever is an understatement. Obviously the reviewer simply doesn't understand them because they're not as in-your-face as other Tool albums. The truth is they're about the deepest and most meaningful and poetic lyrics to ever grace the Earth. See my previous post for more info.
    None of the reviewers explained the album's meaning, although the reviewer who mentioned the spiral ordering of the record came close. The album is based on the Fibonacci numerical sequence with the record's central meaning being that in life you should behave like a spiral and "keep going, spiral out, keep going" as the lyrics indicate at end the song (and record if you follow the intended spiral ordering of the songs). Ostensibly, the record challenges you to keep growing as a person. This youtube video does a far better job of explaining the concept than I do:
    . I am 41 years old and grew up on progressive bands like Yes and Pink Floyd. Lateralus is easily one of the 10 best records of all time.
    oh yeah,and eclipse,just to let you know,aenima is just as prog as this album,as well as 10,000 days. undertow is the only one that isn't quite the same. so what the **** were you thinking when you did this review? oh yeah,and you didn't even mention justin either.he's the backbone of the band you moron,you act like he did nothing for the ****ing suck dude...
    Lateralus is an album that has some songs used as gateways in it most people wonder whats "Faaip De Oiad" about well since the album is full of gateways is it possibly that the song "Faaip De Oiad" a intro to The 10,000 Days album or better yet the 2 pice track "Lost Keys (Blame Hoffman), Rosetta Stoned"
    first post of 2010 lol...this is no doubt the best of tool's work...i also loved 10,000 days as well
    Rushrocks review is terrible lmao. Gives it a perfect 10 but has something bad to say about just about every track -.-
    Genial, brilliant, deeply spiritual and studded with more hidden knowledge than you could shake a stick at. Lateralus has it all and then some. It is without question one of my favorite albums and one i revisit often, its gleam and brilliance still intact. This one is gonna age well.. If you havn't got it then shame on you for your poor judgement. Ok.. maybe a little harsh saying that but really the ammount of reviews here, quality of review set aside, testifies to the passion this band stirs in you. I remember reading a review about Tool as this album came out. The writer wrote something like "music only an epileptic could keep time with". Intrigued, i had to buy. So should you.
    most of the reviewers are idiots,that's why.espcially the first one.good job eclipse you ****ing retard,way to show that you know absolutly know nothing about tool.BTW none of you reviewers should even be considered real tool fans.