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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Tool

Lateralus

Review by Gary Hill

Tool quite probably get lumped by many in the Nu-metal category. That fits to a degree, but as this album shows, the group are not good at being tied down to one musical label. Indeed, they show influences here as far ranging as Metallica, Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Jimi Hendrix and Godsmack. The band seems to have a knack for taking non-commercial turns in their compositions and making them work. They show a high level of instrumental and compositional talent. Indeed, this disc was certainly one of the best albums of any genre for the year 2001. It is dark and angry, but also thoughtful and thought provoking - that is no easy feat.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2003 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
The Grudge
Driving bass starts this, then an angry guitar enters. The cut is appropriately angry in texture, but a mellower, more open section (punctuated by bursts of fury) makes up much of the track. The song has a very intriguing texture and Godsmackish elements show up throughout. It winds down to a slower, almost hypnotic jam later, then at one point bursts into total fury.
Eon Blue Apocalypse
This brief cut is mellower and mostly atmosphere, only dropping to the melodic for a short time late.
The Patient
Starting with a drone that feels somewhat like a ticking clock, this one sets off on a very, very gradual building process. The overall tone of the early elements here are in a subdued, almost 50's-ish mode. It eventually explodes into angry energy, and a false ending brings in a new segment that is all rage. The opening elements return to end the composition.
Mantra
This weird piece of atmosphere feels both tribal and Hawkwindish.
Schism
An acoustically driven melody line starts this one, then a bass line enters to carry the melody. This is a less aggressive, but intensely bitter and emotional piece. The lyrics here point up frustration and confusion about the ending of a relationship. It becomes belligerent at times, but overall is more restrained than much of the rest of the album. An instrumental break that serves as a rebuilding of the central themes is especially effective. It eventually breaks out into a brilliant nu-metal groove that forms the basis of the outro.
Parabol
Another atmospheric interlude, this one begins a gradual building. This is the first of these more moody pieces that features vocals. It is haunting and quite strong.

Parabola
This explodes forth straight out of the previous number, in a great high-energy riff. It drops down to a sparser sort of arrangement, and the chorus almost feels poppy, even though it retains a hard edge. The cut alternates for a time between these different moods before falling to a balladic movement. It grows back up from there, evolving into an instrumental break that feels rather Sabbathish. A burst of sound comes forth, then silence followed by a short balladic segment. This is one of the most interesting and potent pieces on the album.
Ticks & Leeches
Percussion starts this one, then furious guitar takes it into a building process. It transforms into a gritty nu-metal jam that has elements of rap metal at times. It is one of the most dynamic on the album, but it comes across a little lacking in direction, making it a bit hard to follow. It drops to a mellower, almost balladic movement after a time, then eventually explodes from there. A screaming jam ends the piece.
Lateralus
A sedate mellow melody starts this. It eventually bursts forth into a crunchy jam. Dropping down to a more sedate percussion dominated mode for the verse, the song begins building back up from there. This building is based on the main themes of the number, and the piece comes across both as crunchy and accessible. It becomes rather adventurous, but still does not wander too far from its roots.
Disposition
This is a pretty sedate acoustic driven track with a solid percussive line. It feels quite a bit like Black Sabbath's Planet Caravan and gets rather involved and proggy at times.

Reflection
Percussion starts this one, and the cut takes on Hawkwindish textures and eastern themes. One of the strongest songs on the album, this also shows tribal elements and builds in a very slow and methodical manner.
Triad
Hard edged frantic and furious modes begin this one, and over the course of its varied changes it goes through segments of feeling Hendrixish and also of calling to mind old school Metallica. This wandering instrumental finds the opportunity to get laid back and more sedate from time to time.
Faaip De Oiad
This one is essentially a brief noise-fest.
 
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