Opiate EP

Tool - Opiate EP ©1992 Volcano Entertainment
1. Sweat
2. Hush
3. Part Of Me
4. Cold And Ugly (live)
5. Jerk-off (live)
6. Opiate

In just about every regard, I consider Tool's debut, Opiate, to be one of the most impressive things the band has ever done. Over the past decade, Tool has established themselves as the semi-mainstream's thinking person's band. Their subsequent complex releases shouldn't have gotten quite the attention they have, considering the typical mainstream fan gravitates towards the likes of Papa roach, but Tool somehow connected to a fairly large audience during their existence. Of course, having a debut like Opiate helps.

The six songs of Tool finds the band in their "embryonic" stage, which simply means they hadn't gotten lost in between song interludes, more progressive song structures and various other meandering techniques that has made their later music a bit more to digest. The initial Tool music featured four highly competent musicians playing a stripped down, thunderous form of rock that transcended the grunge and metal scenes all at once. If nothing else, the tight rhythm section utterly propels this music. But of course Maynard's powerful singing is the secret weapon for Tool, as well as his charming lyrics such as "I should play god and shoot you myself".

While Tool would ultimately get their initial widespread attention with the "Prison Sex" video, Opiate is something that any fan of hard music needs to have around. Tool, as a precise hard rock band sans progressive noodling, was one devastating machine for their initial onslaught into the music world.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/2004

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Tool - Lateralus ©2001 Volcano Entertainment
1. The Grudge
2. Eon Blue Apocalypse
3. The Patient
4. Mantra
5. Schism
6. Parabol
7. Parabola
8. Ticks And Leeches
9. Lateralus
10. Disposition
11. Reflection
12. Triad
13. Faaip De Oiad

After five years, Tool fans finally have their studio follow-up to Aenima - and to complete the introductory cliché, it was well worth the wait. While it retains the same sprawling feeling as much of its predecessor, Lateralus is inherently more enjoyable. The sense of dynamics, both within each song and on the whole, is much better than it has been in a while, making for a disc that can be listened to more often, and with less frustration, than Aenima. Most strikingly, the meandering instrumental bits feel as though they actually belong, whereas in the past, they tended to aggravate and could generally have been omitted. Keenan's vocals are, by and large, mellow on this disc, suggesting that he liked what he was doing in his A Perfect Circle side project. The guitar tone is reassuringly Tool-y throughout the album, as is the drumming, but Lateralus seems to have more crossover appeal than prior releases; "Schism", the first single, has been on fairly consistent rotation on at least one rock classics station. Overall, this disc's best feature is that it can be listened to all the way through, and reasonably often. It makes no huge stylistic leaps away from Aenima's sound; instead, it creates songs that are stronger and more enduring within the same framework - catchy but also just esoteric enough to keep the alternykids happy. At the end of the day, this album is for die-hard Tool fans, or those who liked half of Aenima but thought the entire thing was too much to digest.

Review by C. LeRoux

Review date: 07/2001

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