Zoo Entertainment, 1996

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I remember the first time I ever heard Tool - I was in the Chicago office of Zoo Entertainment visiting a friend I worked with in radio. He pulled out Tool's demo, and put it on the stereo for me. Stunned is the word closest to describing how I felt listening to this glorious noise - afterwards, I felt cleansed.

Maynard James Keenan and crew have been cleansing people with their brand of alternative metal now for four years, and while their latest studio release, Ænima, isn't their best work, it features some of their most exciting product since their debut mini-album.

The debut single, "Stinkfist", picks up where Tool left off on their last album, the disappointing my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Undertow. "Stinkfist" has a groove which grabs the listener and refuses to let go. Like their previous singles "Sober" and "Prison Sex", "Stinkfist" mixes Keenan's vocals with Adam Jones's guitar perfectly, and the vocal effects used add to the song's mystique.

For most of the first half of the disc, Ænima takes the listener for probably one of the most intense musical rides they've ever been on. Cuts like "Eulogy", "Forty Six & 2" and "Hooker With A Penis" show the true potential of Tool.

Ænima would almost be the best Tool release were it not for some of the band's dives into total weirdness. "Message To Harry Manback" is basically a threatening phone message with a haunting backing track, and is disturbing on the first few listens. Other cuts that could have easily been cut include "Intermission", "Die Eier Von Satan" (featuring German ramblings from Marko Fox), and "Ions". (One word of advice, guys: just because you have 78 minutes of space on a CD doesn't mean you have to fill it up.)

Tool's one strength is the ability to write long songs that seem to go by in an instant; two songs clock in at over nine minutes, the longest being almost 14 minutes. However, the musical abilities of Keenan, Jones, and fellow bandmates Danny Carey and Justin Chancellor, justify the length of the tracks.

While I don't usually recommend buying an album for its artwork, the CD of Ænima features the most innovative packaging I've ever seen, and makes the decision to buy the tape or CD easier. (One of the moving pictures features the band, two of whom seem to be naked, watching a contortionist apparently blowing himself. And to think I believed that could only be done with a Craftmatic adjustable bed.)

While Tool has never been able to produce an album that matched the power and strength of their debut disc Opiate, they have come close with Ænima - and had they been a little less cautious with the razor blade and the master tapes, they could have carved this one into their best release ever.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Zoo Entertainment, and is used for informational purposes only.