Zoo Entertainment, 1992

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I still remember being blown away the first time I ever heard the band Tool. A former colleague of mine (Anthony, whom I've written about before on these pages) played part of their demo for me, and I was immediately hooked. The freshness of the music, the pure aggression - I loved it!

Their 1992 debut effort, an EP named Opiate, gave the world their first taste of Maynard James Keenan and crew - and from then on, there was no looking back. This seven-song wonder shows off more power in less than 30 minutes than some bands try to cram onto double albums. Filled with irreverance, anger and questioning God, Tool pulls no punches, and leaves you wanting to be smacked around for another 12 rounds.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

If the collage on the CD artwork scares you, then you might as well trade this disc in for Celine Dion, 'cause Tool isn't out to satisfy the masses. From the declarations of hatred in the funk-laced "Hush" and the live powerhouse "Jerk-Off" to the more introspective exclamation point against God on the title track ("Jesus Christ, why don't you come save my life now?"), Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Paul D'Amour and drummer Danny Carey capture the angst and the drama succinctly, all the while making songs that grab your eardrums and don't let go.

The only stumbling block is the cut "Part Of Me," which doesn't seem to ever find its direction, no matter how hard it tries. However, this one minor drawback is quickly eased by other numbers such as "Cold And Ugly," one of two live songs on Opiate. (With the power of these live performances, one wonders why Tool didn't include more on this disc - for that matter, why they haven't put out a live album, recent problems with the former Zoo Entertainment notwithstanding.)

The surprise on this album is the hidden seventh track, a song which should get the religious right's undies in a knot real quick. Lighten up, gang, this song is a definite joke! How else do you explain lyrics like: "I had a friend once, he took some acid / Now he thinks he's a fire engine"? So Keenan chants "Satan" in the background - so what? Something tells me that both sides got a laugh out of this one.

The only real qualm about Opiate? Easy: it's too damned short. If these seven songs wet your appetite now, you have two other albums to choose from. Back when I first heard this, I had to wait two years for Undertow to come out to cure my hunger for more Tool.

Opiate is undoubtedly the first stop you should make on your road to discovering all things Tool - it helps put into focus the remainder of their work. Six years after its release, this is still a disc I enjoy thoroughly and repeatedly.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 1998 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.