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 for the soul. Even "Ticks & Leeches", the angriest song on the album, is a purifying release. The culmination of the record's power, found in the "Discipline/Reflection/Triad" trilogy, is like the musical embodiment of a spiritual sojourn -- the soulful cry of Adam Jones' guitar, the crippling rumble of Justin Chancellor's bass, the elephant stampede of Danny Carey's drums, the winding croon of Maynard James Keenan's vocal. Individually, they are interesting but it is their magical synergy that makes Tool unique (among other things). No band creates the aural panorama Tool does -- no one comes anywhere close. They are utterly beyond compare. I would trace back some influence to King Crimson, obviously, but I believe influences are also rooted in abstract mathematics and the ancient musical vernacular of Africa, and who knows what else.
Now I'm probably just sounding capricious and fanciful. I thought I was coming to a point with the review, but I don't really think there was one. Hmm. Well, I used to like this album a lot. I grew to love it. Now I am so overwhelmed by its greatness that I can only stand paralyzed during its full 79 minutes. Only then can I devote my full attention to the music, and truthfully, I don't think I have a choice -- _Lateralus_ obliges the entirety of my brain. No album has the effect on me that this does. I'm almost scared of what Tool will do next.
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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 ...