Friday, October 15, 2010

FDF Volume 3 Issue 204 - Tool Lateralus

By: March

Album - Lateralus
Artist - Tool
Key Players - Danny Carey - drums. Justin Chancellor - bass. Adam Jones - guitar. Maynard James Keenan - vocals
Produced By - Tool and David Bottrill

Release Date
- May 15, 2001

What caused me to blow off the dust?
- With the bands singles still in very heavy rotation on rock radio stations it is hard to really have them be "forgotten". When you listen to the album(s) front to back, which is the idea of this blog, you get some real gems. It was hard to pick the "right" Tool album, but I decided on this one. No real strong reason I guess.

Overview - Formed in Los Angeles, California in 1990 the seemingly hard to pin down genre wise band Tool was formed. The band would blend progressive rock and metal to form some of the heaviest yet melodic rock heard in some time. By 1996 the band was a household name with their 5+ minute rock songs and twisted yet visually stunning videos. The band would continue to be "mysterious" often performing on dark stages and hardly ever giving interviews. The band would battle censorship all along the way, but with both perseverance and class they'd be able to continue on doing what they felt was the best representation of the band. This album (their third) would reach #1 on the Billboard charts on its debut week. The band would also win a Grammy for best metal performance. This album would go double platinum in about two years.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens with "The Grudge". Chancellor gets some of the coolest bass sounds out. Just the "chime" to his bass grabs you right away. Carey works the drums with Chancellor as Jones begins to swirl on guitar. Keenan starts about one minute in chanting a few lines and the band does some quick loud/quiet runs. There is just this big "full" sounds to the band and even with the heaviness of it all, and the complexity at times, everything stands on its own. Jones leads the charge, but not with a solo, as the song length grows. Carey rumbles across the drum kit and you are just hit over the head before that punch of Chancellors bass rings in once more. A quick "break" and the Keenan gives a long howl as the band rumbles towards the end of the tune but not before one more big rumble from the band. A lone guitar line is quietly played as "Eon Blue Apocalypse" begins. Even when the volume is up the single guitar remains and works to find where it wants to be and you realize it was a short musical interlude (there will be a few) as "The Patient" begins. It almost sounds like Jones is using a talk box for his guitar (very faint if at all). Keenan doesn't come in until after a minute and the band is very laid back. The vocals are hushed and the guitar line remains the same as it was from the start. Carey and Chancellor are not pushing anything at the outset. That changes, but not until well after the two minute mark when the band fully comes in. The song is not very fast, but its a very heavy/sludgy sounding song. Keenan seems to keep the vibe of the song, and the band only breaks out when the time is right. The dark undertones are really starting to show. "Mantra" is another interlude track. Sounds a little like whale songs at times to be honest. This sets the tone for the first single from the album release to radio "Schism". Jones rings out some quiet chords and Chancellor plays along, but after a moment he begins his bass run and Jones feeds back underneath. Carey rolls across the drum set in an odd time signature that keeps it very interesting, yet spot on time wise. Chancellors bass rings out over the track and it slowly builds. When we pass two minutes in we are in full rock mode. This my dear readers is "Tool". They are masters of their craft and the perfection shows in the attention to detail. Even when it gets as loud as possible you can hear every cymbal crash, every bass note, every guitar chord. This is a "band" not an individual. Really listen and you'll get what I mean. The band slows it down once again, and brings it all back up for one big sounding ending. Epic stuff. "Parabol" is not as much of an "interlude" as the others. This one, although short, is just Keenan singing very hushed with some cymbal rolls and light bass and guitar chord progressions. It sets everything up for "Parabola". Talk about a massive intro. It could be because of the lushness that lead to it. The band hammers down with big guitars and drums. After a few bars Jones rings his guitar over the top. Chancellor and Carey lock in to the rhythm and Keenan joins in. The vocals are strong, but not "urgent" for the verses. Keenan will give a howl and push from time to time. Jones gets a very short guitar run early in the song, but it is a short and to the point guitar run before everyone is back to the melody of the song. The band shows their "prog" rock prowess by some great tempo changes later in the track. A real hidden gem on the album and the quiet ending is a nice touch. Carey pounces across the drums at the start of "Ticks & Leeches". Chancellor drops some big bass notes and the guitar then joins. It is a long slow buzzy build up before the guitar really chimes out and the song continues to grow. The vocal track is compressed and a little distorted. The track is heavy and driving but the band is quick to change the direction 3 minutes in with just a guitar playing some chords and ambient noise behind it. This goes on for a bit before the band hits back hard. You get caught up in the moment leading up to it, so its all the more heavy. The band goes full force the last few minutes of the song leaving you gasping for more. The title track follows in "Lateralis" (the album is LateraLUS while the song is LateralIS)*. Stretching to close to 10 minutes long Jones opens on guitar. He plays the same few notes over and over until the bass and drums slowly build. Once they hit their mark the guitar goes right up in volume and intensity. Jones is not a flashy guitar player but he really drives the point across. Keenan is hushed in his delivery allowing the instruments to set the tone. The song blends that perfect mix of heaviness with melody which is always a plus. The song continues with some good time changes to keep the listener strongly engaged in the experience. The song wraps up with some big guitar chords and swooping bass fills from Chancellor before the big punched up ending. Chancellor plays the intro to "Disposition" on the bass while Jones puts in a few guitar harmonics here and there. It is a quiet and laid back song for the band and for the feel of the album. The longest song on the album "Reflection" follows. Clocking in at over 11 minutes it, like many songs, starts off with a single player. In this case Carey does some rolls across his drum kit before the bass comes in to play along. Keyboards fill in some space and the song falls into a comfortable vibe. It keeps with the same sort of looping melody and Jones buzzes some guitar parts from time to time. Keenan is not heard until 3+ minutes in and he his muffled/hushed. The keyboards continue to drone while the bass and drums work in tandem. The somberness of this song lends itself to a great intro on "Triad". The driving, buzzy guitar, is awash with backing Indian sounding instruments and chants. The bass gives a low chug and Carey keeps things moving forward as always. Jones comes up and is able to sling some long guitar notes awash with feedback. What is nice about this tune is that is largely instrumental. Although not flashy it is something that is welcomed to hear. The band is just so "heavy" at times you don't mind hearing them take this direction. The album concludes with "Faaip De Oiad". A heavy buzz from guitar and sort of schizophrenic drums and speaking samples. It is sort of a mind scramble and honestly largely skippable.

* There was a real wild note on the Wiki entry for this record with regard to this song, just wanted to share..try to get your mind around this:
The title track, "Lateralus", incorporates the Fibonacci Sequence. For example, the syllables of the lyrics follow the Fibonacci pattern, and the time signature of the chorus rotates between 9/8, 8/8, and 7/8 time, referring to the 17th Fibonacci number, 987. The theme of the song describes the desire of humans to explore and to expand for more knowledge and a deeper understanding of everything. The lyrics "spiral out", refers to this desire and also to the Fibonacci spiral, which is formed by creating and arranging squares for each number in the sequence's 1,1,2,3,5,8,... pattern, and drawing a curve that connects to two corners of each square. This would, allowed to continue onwards, theoretically create a never-ending and infinitely-expanding spiral.

Okay...a reader made me aware of this video clip that explains it, set to music. I still am stunned with it. Dig it here.

Where are they now? - Tool are still active as a touring and recording unit. The band continues to release albums at their own pace and keep busy with a lot of other projects. Carey keeps busy following sports and collects vintage instruments. Chancellor has played with Isis and was an additional bass on Intronaut's 2010 album,Valley of Smoke. Jones is busy with his art (has been the key person with the bands videos in the past). Maynard James Keenan has been involved with "A Perfect Circle" as well as "Puscifer" and has taken a very serious approach to wine. He currently owns Merkin Vineyards in Arizona where he resides. His affection for the art was captured in the documentary "Blood In To Wine" which is out now. Click here for the trailer. There are heavy rumors that the band is working on new material.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - The first time I saw the band live part of Lollapalooza 1993. The show was July 17, 1993 at Quonset State Airport in Rhode Island. I don't recall a lot of the set, other than they played early in the day which seemed odd. The second time was July 9, 1998 at part of Ozzfest at the Comcast Center. This was really something to see as the band had many of the visuals working in full force, which are big parts of the live experience for them. The final two times were May 21, 2006 at the Orpheum in Boston and September 29, 2006 at the Comcast Center. For the Orpheum show this was a big deal as the band hadn't toured in a while and tickets were very hard to get and went quick. I just happened to luck out. They were fantastic although the atmosphere was tense due to the heavy security before entry in to the venue. For the September show the plus for me on that was that Isis was opening. Tool was good and had a very sparsely filled stage so it seemed "huge" and the swooping lights a visuals were just top notch.

FDF Overall Take - Personally I was very "ehh" on the band for a bit. Perhaps it is/was because you couldn't go very long before you'd hear the same song(s) on the radio. Perhaps they are not intended to be a 'single" band. The complexity and intensity to their music really has struck me the last few months and part of me feels bad for being so wishy washy on them. Sure there are hardcore/diehard fans but the casual fans who think they don't like loud, or "metal" music need to look to these guys as a band that does something really unique. Well worth your time.


This is the bands official site.
Also, Danny Carey has a site you can check out here.
Puscifer site.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

Tool has been pretty particular about their music being shared. This week I'll skip the mp3s and give you some YouTube clips.


You can buy the record here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


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