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).