Undertow review by Tool

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  • Released: Apr 5, 1993
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (80 votes)
Tool: Undertow

Sound — 9
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.

Lyrics — 8
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.

Overall Impression — 9
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.

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    actually my least favorite TOOL album, and i really actually love it...so...thats saying something...
    I'm personally more of a fan of 10,000 Days, but this definitely up there. I love the more open (think Prison Sex), angry atmosphere. The 69 track thing was a nice touch, made me think my stereo was messed up the first time it happened. Just an amazing album by an amazing band.