Tool - Lateralus
Maynard has really out done himself on this album. Tool's 2001 album Lateralus is one for the history books and can be classified as nothing less than a work of art. Within this album are puzzles that will have you racking your brain for an answer, but Keenan and the gang will never tell! The best thing about this album is that you don't have to be a music theory enthusiast, psychologist, mathematician, philosopher, or drugged-out hippie to appreciate this album, but each one of those people will find something special in it for them.
The album kicks off strong with "The Grudge" which contains more of that Tool-style chugging with a bit of ridiculous and mind-boggling drumming on the side via the one, the only Danny Carey. Maynard even gives all of you astronomers out there something to ponder with lyrics that discuss Saturn's orbit around the sun which he somehow relates back to a topic every ninth grader and their mother has had to learn about, Adultery, with reference to The Scarlet Letter.
A couple obscure spacer songs and another masterfully crafted, oddly time-signatured track later, we come to the albums first and most peculiar single, "Schism." This song leaves even the mainstream crowd bopping their heads back and forth singing, "I know the pieces fit" and then wondering why they can't bang their heads properly to the song. What they didn\'t know is that they are listening to the first mainstream single to be in 6/8, 11/8, 12/8, 13/8, and a multitude of other time signatures. Blissfully ignorant we all sing along to the only song I personally know of where the lyrics match the time signature, but that's a whole other story in and of itself.
As we continue a listen that can be accurately described as a full-on journey at this point, we come to "Parabol" and "Parabola". "Parabol" is the quiet and shy schizophrenic alter-ego of the out-of-control, explosive track that is "Parabola." As Maynard urges listeners to "Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing" through a build-DOWN of bass that explodes into the conclusion of "Parabola" I oblige and shove on. Next up Danny Carey shows off a bit more in 7/8 4/4 and 9/8 in "Ticks and Leeches" bridging the gap to the most intelligent song I've ever heard, "Lateralus."
Listening to "Lateralus" at first I simply thought it was a cool song, nothing utterly terrifying in revelation, until I truly listened to the song. It starts off with a subtle drum beat and clean, catchy guitar riff that get louder and louder until they erupt to form Maynard and Danny's most accomplished piece. Tabbing out the drumming I noticed a pattern that was also reflected in the phrasing of Maynard's lyrics. Maynard at first sings 1 syllable, then again 1, then 2, 3, 5, 8.. anyone noticing the pattern? Danny Carey taps it out using his sacred geometrical drumming technique and Maynard sings it, you all loved it in high school, that's right, it's the Fibonacci Sequence. But before you start "over thinking, overanalyzing" this song, the final three songs have still yet to be heard.
The final three songs, originally recorded as one epic, show a more calm and collect side to Maynard's powerful brilliance in the beginning and then finish off the album with the same powerful magnitude that the album started in the instrumental track "Triad."
It hurts to consider what was going through Maynard's brain when creating this monster of an album, but whatever it is, I'm glad he did because the lengthy review I've written here doesn\'t even begin to fully convey all that can be found within the confines of this album. The guitar squeals and chugs away as usual, the drums will have your head racing to keep beat, and the lyrics are more thought-provoking than Einstein's theory of relativity. Purchase Lateralus and cherish it as if it were your new-born child.
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