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Lateralus emerged after a five-year legal dispute with Tool's label, Volcano Entertainment. In January 2001, the band announced that their new album's title would be Systema Encéphale and provided a 12-song tracklist with titles such as "Riverchrist", "Numbereft", "Encephatalis", "Musick", and "Coeliacus". File-sharing networks such as Napster were flooded with bogus files bearing the titles' names. At the time, Tool members were outspokenly critical of file-sharing networks in general due to the negative impact on artists that are dependent on success in record sales to continue their career. Keenan had this to say during an interview with NY Rock in 2000, "I think there are a lot of other industries out there that might deserve being destroyed. The ones who get hurt by MP3s are not so much companies or the business, but the artists, people who are trying to write songs." A month later, the band revealed that the new album was actually titled Lateralus (supposedly named in combination with the words "Vastus lateralis", a human leg muscle and lateral thinking) and that the name Systema Encéphale and the tracklist had been a ruse.

Lateralus and the corresponding tours would take Tool a step further toward art-rock and progressive rock territory. Rolling Stone wrote in an attempt to summarize the album that "Drums, bass and guitars move in jarring cycles of hyperhowl and near-silent death march... The prolonged running times of most of Lateralus' thirteen tracks are misleading; the entire album rolls and stomps with suitelike purpose." Joshua Klein of The A.V. Club in turn expressed his opinion that Lateralus, with its 79-minute running time and relatively complex and long songs — topped by the ten-and-a-half minute music video for "Parabola" — posed a challenge to fans and music programming alike. Drummer Danny Carey said, "The manufacturer would only guarantee us up to 79 minutes... We thought we'd give them two seconds of breathing room." Carey aspired to create longer songs like those by artists he grew up listening to. The band had segues to place between songs, but had to cut out a lot during the mastering phase. The CD itself was mastered using HDCD technology.

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Composer:  Tool
Author:  Tool
Performer:  Tool
Release Date:  May 15, 2001
Label:  Volcano Entertainment
Artist:  Tool
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Quick Tip by . July 29, 2010
posted in Music Matters
Without a doubt, my favorite album of the '00s. Tool's sound has progressed and evolved into something deeply philosophical, complex, dark, and meditatively brilliant. With terrific musicianship, unusual arrangements, challenging visuals, and intelligent lyrics, they are at their peak with this set.
review by . May 20, 2003
posted in Music Matters
_Lateralus_ reconciles the division between within & without, self & other, body & mind, heaven & earth and brings them into perfect harmony.
review by . November 12, 2002
_Lateralus_ defies any description one can muster with the English language. German would be a better choice, but even then one must inevitably find the words to be failing. This is the 21st century's paragon of progressive rock -- a work of art so deep there probably is no bottom. If you are still reading, I have not yet been dismissed as a sycophantic Tool freak. This album is a uniquely spiritual experience for me. It can be heavy and dark and brooding, but ultimately _Lateralus_ is cathartic …
review by . April 03, 2002
You do not listen to this album...you surrender yourself to it. The experience of Lateralus penetrates deeper than the brain -- it is deeply spiritual and uplifting. Sonically, the dark sound works powerfully with MJ Keenan's dynamic, unique vocals and lyrical messages. Whether he's questioning emotional dichotomies ("Schism") or reflecting on a difficult spiritual sojourn ("The Grudge"), there is a dark, brutal beauty to this music.Few bands have a collegiality that matches that of Tool. With the …
review by . June 07, 2001
I'd always figured Tool was a lame "nu-metal" band with reams of angst and minimal talent.However, this album had become the focus of a discussion among progressive metal fans whose opinions I highly respected. I was hearing some interesting adjectives applied to them: "intricate," "original," "intelligent," "progressive." I was interested, but still skeptical. These guys were popular, after all, and I assumed that they were appealing to the lowest common denominator like so many""nu-metal" bands.My …
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