Tool - Ænima
Tool Metal
15 songs (77:18)
Release year: 1996
Reviewed by Jay

What else can I say about Tool that hasn’t been said before? Amazing. Cryptic. Inspiring. Unique. I could list adjectives until blue in the face. Tool is a band that has set new standards for progressive style music. While they have always shown skill in every aspect of their music, it has never been over the top showmanship. With Ænima, Tool created a masterpiece that will stand the test of time. A mere eight years after its release, we are already calling it a classic.

Adam Jones, former movie special effects artist and guitarist extraordinaire provides some great guitar work. Using pedals, effects and even a ladies electric razor to get his point across, he is a genius on guitar. Not in the John Petrucci over-the-top way, but in his own convoluted way. Justin Chancellor provides solid backing on bass and has some incredible solos (intro to "Forty Six & 2" could be one of the best bass lines ever written.). Maynard James Keenan finds more ways to use his voice than you could ever imagine. Those odd noises on the beginning of "Eulogy" are him singing through a voice box. Of course then there is the giant behind the kit. Danny Carey has got to be one of the best drummers in the history of music. He just seems to do his own thing the whole song and somehow it all fits together. The synergy that Tool has between the parts is awesome. Each member seems to turn in their own virtuoso performance all at once. There is no single note out of place; it sounds exactly as they have planned it. It is some of the most intricate and exacting songwriting ever.

Stinkfist” is the song that made Tool huge. It was a hit single and spawned a censored MTV video. From the odd drum intro to the howling guitar and distant vocals, the song is a masterwork. The content is not for the faint of heart and involves “fisting.” “Eulogy” is probably my favorite song on the album. People debate over the lyrical content. It is believed that the lyrics could be about Jesus, Maynard or a whole host of other possibilities. The haunting intro with distorted vocals is the perfect intro to this song. Adam Jones’ almost patented soloing style is incredible over the lyrics of Maynard and the booming bass. The only word for this song is masterpiece. “Forty Six & 2” is another favorite and radio staple. I am a biologist but I won’t bore you with the technical explanation of the lyrics. Simply put, it deals with human evolution. The introduction is easily one of the catchiest riffs ever written. The mellow introduction leads up to the harder section as in most Tool songs. Carey’s choice of drums is perfect here. The high toms are contrasted with the low drums. Once the hard part begins, the crash and grind of the band functioning as a unit is evident. Each member is doing their own thing but it all meshes properly.

Tool manages to put non-song interludes on this album quite well “Useful Idiot” is the sound of a record coming to the end of a side. “Message to Harry Manback” is a quite amusing answering machine message with piano accompaniment. “Intermission” is circus style organ playing the riff to “Jimmy.” “Cesaro Summability” is a random collection of noises and grinding samples. “(-) ions” is a Danny Carey song of electrical sound effects. “Die Eier von Satan” is a recipe for hash cookies read in German, evoking shades of national socialistic rallies. These interludes while not musical are funny at times and very artistic, which is Tool’s main goal. At each show, they espouse that they hope their music can be used to create something or inspire something. These songs are just other ways to do that.

The title track is another radio hit. Lyrically it builds a case for the destruction of Los Angeles. Maynard expresses all his rage and frustrations about the plasticity and superficiality of this city. Carey is masterful on drums again and the bass line is quirky and sharp as to match the sarcasm of the lyrics. While the song is depressing, the music when Maynard requests floods to come to flush the city away is quite happy. “Jimmy” is a slower, melodic and depressing tale about Maynard’s childhood. “Third Eye” is Tool’s real masterwork on the album. It’s based on Buddhist thought and enlightenment through chemical means. It is one of the only Tool songs to have real political tones in speaking out on the US war on drugs. Nearly 14 minutes long, it is a true work of art. So many parts, vocal lines, changes in tempo and interesting work on every instrument.

While they would go on to record Lateralus, an album that even surpasses this one, Tool set a new standard with this album and distanced themselves from the early nu metal movement in the beginning. Everything is amazing especially beautifully designed mutli-image cover and artwork. They thought of everything with this release. It is metal. It is art. It is profound. It is Tool.

Killing Songs :
All of them.
Jay quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Tool that we have reviewed:
Tool - Fear Inoculum reviewed by Goat and quoted 70 / 100
Tool - 10,000 Days reviewed by Al and quoted 95 / 100
Tool - Undertow reviewed by Al and quoted 93 / 100
Tool - Lateralus reviewed by Danny and quoted 96 / 100
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