Listening to this album as an adult, I can't help but get infuriated by it. This album infuriates me because aside from sounding so drab for being a “heavy” rock band, it totally reeks of dishonesty for the fact that it's marketed as an intelligent slab of music yet it tightly-clings to such juvenille aesthetics that don't gel at all with aesthetics that are supposed to be “higher class.” Even if the juvenille lyrics in some songs are supposed to be ironic humor, it didn't work because I'm not laughing.
While many of the musicians here have some instrumental talent by themselves, they don't win much points from me because they don't craft much music on this album that I actually like.
Maynard James Keenan is an extremely overrated singer. His vocalwork is one of the main reasons why I hate this album, since his vocals usually are either really bad “anguished” singing or pseudo-aggressive yelling, in which both styles would be right at home with your run-of-the-mill 90's nu-metal (or alternative metal for those who demand euphamisms) or Nine Inch Nails album (yuck).
His songwriting isn't impressive at all, either. So much of his lyrics on this album are like what you'd read from an angry high schooler's notebook who's in an introductory philosophy class, so it's like a mix of bad, angsty poetry and pseudo-intellectual ramblings. Some songs like “Fourty Six and Two” and “Third Eye” exemplify the pseudo-intellectual lyrics, while songs like “Hooker With a Penis” (brilliant song title) have lyrics as if they were yanked straight out of an angry 15 year-old's mouth.
Adam Jones is a guitarist that has skill (though is inferior to the likes of Chuck Schuldiner and Ron Jarzombek), but a lot of what he's made on this album is really flat and uninspired. The only song where any of his riffs and solos sound like there's some energy in them are in “Third Eye,” while it seems like the rest are just grunge/nu-metal riffs played in an “artsy” manner or flat, simplified progressive rock riffs with an occasional polyrhythm. Most of the solos aren't that good, either, since so many of them sound like half-baked, goofy “feedback” solos you'd hear from Tom Morello (another painfully overrated guitarist).
Justin Chancellor's bass is interesting in areas, though nothing that really grabbed my attention. If it counts for anything, at least his bass is more audible in this album than most rock albums out there.
Danny Carey is a drummer that's been showered with tons of praise. Now he is a skilled drummer, but skill with an instrument doesn't mean they automatically can make interesting songs. True, in a lot of the songs on this album, Carey does some neat, technical stuff with his skins, but they can't save the songs for the fact that so many of them are either boring or downright irritating.
The only song on this album I'd say is promising is “Third Eye.” In fact, I'd say that for the most part, it shows that when pressed, Tool's rhythm section can come up with dynamic, interesting music (especially since this one clocks in at 14 minutes). However, it gets ruined with Maynard's lousy vocalwork, especially when he screams out “Prying open my third eye!!”.
The “hit” songs like “Stinkfist” and “Aenima” are examples of the grunge/nu-metal songs with an “artsy” glaze applied to them, and boy do they sound annoying. They honestly don't sound much different (or much better) than the typical grunge/nu-metal gunk infesting the mainstream at the time this album came out.
Other songs like “Pushit” and “Eulogy” are examples of trying-too-hard-yet-flat progressive-rock with the occasional “heavy” moments on this album, and when I'm not chuckling at Maynard's attempts to come off as a deep thinker, I'm usually wallowing in boredom over how bloodless most of them feel.
There's filler tracks like “Message to Harry Manback,” “Intermission,” and “Die Eeir Von Satan” that add next to nothing in terms of musical quality, in that they only pad out the running length of the album.
The production quality on this album isn't bad, since all the vocals, guitars, bass, and drums come in rather clear. However, like with all music, good sound quality can't save lousy music.
Despite all the heavy marketing and hype from the likes of MTV and Tool fans, this album is NOT a progressive metal masterpiece that will stretch your mind and change your life.
If you're looking for some actual metal albums that have brilliant musicianship, innovative ideas, creativity, or thoughtful lyrics (or a combination of any), I strongly suggest you invest your time and money on these albums instead (and yes, I've listened to and own all of these):
Phantasmagory: “Odd Sounds”
Atheist: “Piece of Time”
Spastic Ink: “Ink Complete”
Blotted Science: “The Machinations of Dementia”
Gordian Knot: “S/T”
Neurosis: “Souls at Zero”
Blut Aus Nord: “MoRT”
Meshuggah: “Destroy Erase Improve”
Don't be surprised that if you get engrossed in any of the above albums and own a copy of Tool's “Aenima,” that you find yourself getting rid of said Tool album.
What did you think of this review?