Lateralus review by Tool

logo Ultimate Guitar
  • Released: May 14, 2001
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.7 (274 votes)
Tool: Lateralus

Sound — 9
Tool is one of those bands that either have truly original music, or hide their influences very well. In fact, it's fair to say that the only bands you can compare them to are the ones that claim Tool as an influence to their sound, not the other way around. "Lateralus" has shown that this can translate to music that everyone can enjoy. If you choose to listen to it, however, be prepared for a long haul. Not counting the in-between-songs intermissions ("Eon Blue Apocalypse", "Mantra", and "Parabol" which technically leads into "Parabola"), or the final track "Faiip De Oiaid", none of the songs are shorter than six minutes in length. Luckily, all of the songs sound extremely unique to each other, making it a sort of journey to listen to the album.

Lyrics — 9
Another thing Tool does differently is that the band does not publish their own lyrics online, nor are they included in the album packaging. It is up to the listener to determine what the lyrics mean, or in some cases, what they even ARE. Even then, you'll probably need to do some research; there are astronomical references in "The Grudge", for one. If you can find meaning, even if it is one you've made up, that might make the listening experience more enjoyable. It may not even matter if you can't understand the lyrics. A lot of people reviewing this album comment on the vocal prowess on "Lateralus", because good God, is it true! On the aforementioned "The Grudge", he swaps from a sing-scream style of singing to a soft and pleasant tone - in the same verse! And then two minutes later, he unleashes a thirty-second long scream to cue the start of the climatic end, one minute after that. (See, these songs are long!) Other songs are equally varied, but there's some of everything in each (except for the above-mentioned interlude songs, and "Triad", an instrumental); "The Patient" is sung almost entirely in a peaceful voice, contrasted by "Ticks And Leeches", which consists of not only screamed vocals (reportedly, the singer blew out his vocal cords while recording it), but also the only instance of swearing on the album. There really is something for everyone on this album. (Oh, and don't think the lyrics will make sense in tandem with the songs' respective music videos, either.)

Overall Impression — 10
All it takes is one listen to any of Tool's albums to change the way you think, and "Lateralus" is no exception. Whether this change involves enlightenment or utter confusion varies from person to person. In the meantime, though, this is an album worth checking out. You won't find it on iTunes - only in CD's at a store (which where you should be getting your music anyway, but that's another story).

14 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Is this the highest rated album on UG? I scroll through the reviews and all I see is 10, 10, 9.3, 10, 10, 10, 9.3, 10...
    How many other bands do you guys know, whose CD reviews on this site have comments going back SIX years, with people STILL talking about them?
    That last reviewer is a moron if he thinks the lyrics are sub par. They are typical tool lyrics, and to me this album has the best lyrics, lateralis might have the best lyrics ever.
    I love when albums that have come out forever ago get reviewed again and pop up on the UG review section like they came out days ago, and especially for albums like this. It's like "oh it's been a while since I've reviewed/listened to this in dept... yep... still a masterpiece" hahaha
    there are higher rated albums, but this is one of the highest over the fact that there are multiple reviews, resulting in a larger overall total possible score.
    One of the only albums that seems to get multiple 10's, which genuinely deserves them.
    I don't mind the album (I have a different taste), but what I didn't care for is the predictability of the first handful of songs... songs that start off soft or hard... then changes (e.g., soft intro, followed by metal... then back to soft... then back to metal). Nothing wrong with that formula, but they did it too much for too many consecutive songs.