TOOL — Ænima (review)

TOOL — Ænima album cover Album · 1996 · Alternative Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
Phonebook Eater

"Aenima" is probably the darkest and one of the best albums of all time.

It's only thanks toTool that I now love progressive rock. When, for the first time, I listened to Aenima, my mind was completely blown. But now, for me this is the most important album of my musical life. Tool arrives at their second studio album, and from here everything changed for them. The first album, and also the EP "Opiate", were very Heavy Metal driven and they still didn't have a style of there own, and there were only a few moments prog related. So, when Aenima came out, it seemed like it came out of nowhere. The style was so diverse, and it proved that Tool reached they're maturity.

The album is probably the darkest album of all time. Sinister in almost every moment, you can't not shiver in at least a couple of moments. Ironically the album is dedicated to a comedian, who died just before the band strted to write material.Thanks to Adam Jones' noisy and shredding guitar, to Danny Carey's powerful, precise, and tribal influenced drumming, to Justin Chancellor's, who just replaced previous bassist of the band Paul D'Amour at the time, pondering and dark bass, and of course thanks to Maynard James Keenan's at times beautiful and fragile at times strong and fearless vocals which really made the album how it is, that the album is so dark, yet so beautiful, with such intense and haunting moments that no human being who loves music can forget.

The album starts with "Stinkfist", with a weird intro that sounds like something metallic is bouncing, followed by some noise made by the guitars. Then the song explodes, with a simple but effective riff. Then Maynard comes in, with a dark bass driven tune that is the verse. The chorus is violent, and quite quick, and in a moment we are back to the verse. After the second chorus, there is the experimental part, a part that is always present in all the following songs. There is still the bass that keeps the rhythm, while Jones does some crazy guitar sounds, even though they are quite emotive, haunting and creepy, but still very intense. After this part, there is the grand finale, in the beginning very mellow, then violent, then they repeat a part of the chorus, and the song ends kind of like how it started, but not as distorted and weird. The lyrical content is debatable: some thing it's about drugs, some about sex. I see it as a representation of being dependent on something, generally speaking.

"Eulogy" starts with a calm, yet kind of mysterious intro: the first two minutes are a slow but have an increasing climax, and then the song kicks in, and the first verse has started. The guitar work in this part is great, really impressive. Then the chorus arrives, the first violent part of the song. Maynard's voice here sounds great, probably this song is one of his greatest performances. After the second verse and the chorus, we have several time changes, and different melodies. But the end is what is really spectacular, the atmosphere, before the grand finale, is tense, and you can tell it will explode any second. The finale presents crunchy guitars and Maynard singing, until he keeps a rough and incredibly difficult note for a long time, while the band plays on. It gives me goosebumps all the time. A stunning piece of music, again very intense and dark, a masterpiece. The lyrical content seems to talk about religion, definitely criticizing it and martyrdom.

If I had to choose the song that I least prefer from this album that will be "H.", and it still is a fantastic song! It's one of the shortest songs ( 6 minutes), but very haunting and deep. In fact, the song is mostly mellow. It starts with a distorted bass riff, very slow and kind of doomy. When Maynard starts to sing, the verse has alread started. The music is calm, the vocals are gentle, but the lyrics are very disturbing: it's probably about Maynard being abused when he was a child. The chorus is a bit stronger, and ith crunchy guitars, and Maynard now is screaming. When the middle part starts, we have a guitar (or bass?) solo part, with nothing else to accompany it, making the music very tense. When Maynard starts to sing again, there is an increasing climax, and at a certain point the music sounds almost comforting, cheerful, nice. But it's nothing but an illusion, and right after we have one of the darkest moments of the album, very violent. There's then a short solo by Jones, then there's the chorus is repeated,and the song is over. Brilliant piece.

"Useful Idiot" is a 38 second song: it's the sound of an LP when the side is over, making a sort of an illusion for whoever was use to LPs that the side is over.

"46 & 2" starts with a brilliant and catchy bass riff, probably the catchiest of all the songs in this album. The song is simply structured, unlike all the other songs, but still amazing. After the brief intro, Maynard starts singing. It's a very mellow part, and his voice is gentle again, until the chorus, when the song explodes. After the usual structure of second verse and chorus, there are some time changes and slight modifications of that same riff. The song ends in a breathtaking way: the riff is repeated, but it now is in an odd time signature (I'm not an expert in such matters, but it does sound a bit like it), and the drums are pounding to the rhythm in a very cool way. The lyrical content seems to concern science and an excellent form of life cells that rarely human beings have.

"Message To Harry Manback" is a fun interlude, a piano plays in the background while there's a voice from voicemail that apparently is threatening Harry Manback, and sometimes he speaks Italian, insulting him.

"Hooker With A Penis" is the shortest song of the album (if you don't include the interludes), and probably also the heaviest and most distorted song. The riff is quite catchy, Maynard's voice is always rough or screaming. There are some very cool moments in this song, but it seems like nobody likes "Hooker With A Penis", probably because it almost sounds like a joke. In fact, this is the only song where the lyrical content is pretty lame, it just talks about a boy that tells Maynard that he was selling out, and he absolutely hates when somebody tells him that. Still this is an unbelievable song.

"Intermission" is, like the title says, a brief one minute Intermission that repeates the riff of the following song, "Jimmy", with a moog organ. Fun to listen to, since it makes the music sound very cheerful, even though this following piece is one of the darkest pieces of all time.

"Jimmy" starts very quickly, with no intro, since "Intermission" pretty much made it not necessary to have, and the first verse comes in: it's just bass guitar, and Maynard's soft voice, with at times some interventions by Jones. The chorus comes in, not more violent than the beginning, but still very haunting, thanks to Maynard's beautiful sustained vocals, and thanks to the guitar work. Unlike the other songs, they don't reprise the second verse, they just move on different time and melody changes, at first with Jones' shredding and noisy moments, then with a powerful bass by Chancellor.It goes on changing a lot pretty much until the end. Very underrated song, intense, dark, intriguing, and beautiful like rarely music is and like almost always is here in "Aenima". The lyrical content again concerns Maynard's disturbing childhood,which makes the song even darker.

"Die Eier Von Satan" is another fun interlude, even though the music is very creepy: it's basically very heavy industrial music, with a lot of creepy fade in or out effects. After a while, a scary voice starts speaking in German, almost like he was a Nazi german, you soon here that there is a crowd that is worshiping him, supporting him with great voice. The fun part is that what really the German guy is saying is just a recipe of some kind of Eggs. The title can be translated as "The Eggs Of Satan", or "The Balls Of Satan", if you wanted to be more vulgar.

"Pu[&*!#]" is the second longest song of the album ( ten minutes), but it's probably the creepiest, the most intriguing, and the most intense. The intro starts with a sound very similar to bees buzzing, and then the guitar plays the main riff, and before you know it the verse has started. But the really intense part starts only after a couple of minutes when, the song starts to have an increasing climax, and when Maynard yells "Piece Of Mind", the song becomes violent and crude, the chorus is very dark, mysterious, and the vocals are absolutely amazing, one of the best vocal performances ever. When the chorus ends, everything gets calm. The atmosphere is really intense, thanks to Jones's guitar playing, and also thanks to Carey's really cool percussion. Maynard's voice is very soft, you can barely hear it. At a certain point the guitars are distorted again, and the minute that follows includes a wonderful, wonderful solo of Jones', very haunting, intriguing, and even a bit creepy. There's a reprise of the chorus, and a fabolous finale, where the vocals are at the absolute peak of beauty. The lyrics are once again about Maynard's unhappy childhood, as he was abused by one of his parents. A song that never stoppes impressing me, and giving me goosebumps. The really dark side of prog.

"Cesaro Summability" is a brief and really weird interlude.Initially it's a baby crying, accompanied by strange distorted sounds, and then there's Maynard's voice talking, always really distorted, so you can't hear what he says. Interesting song.

the title track is another Tool classic for concerts. After the weird vocal intro, the riff comes in, as well as drums, and then the first verse comes. It's features only bass and vocals, and it goes on until the chorus comes. Then there's a reprise of the verse, then the chorus again, and then the greatest part. Everything is calmer, Maynard's voice is very soft, the drums are precise and very fast going, as a contrast to the atmosphere. It becomes louder and louder, and then the guitars finally come in once again, and the song reaches it's culminating point, the grand finale, always present in every great Tool song. The song is fabolous, very catchy, definitely one of their best. The lyrical content is very interesting, it talks about the possibility that L.A. could be separated from America and becoming an island.

"(-) Ions" is the greatest interlude song. It is the sound of a train passing, and eventually of a light that catches bugs. It's so great because it's a great relaxing song, and it prepares you to the most astonishing and epic song of the album, thanks to it's four long minutes, as a long break from all the intense moments that took place previously.

"Third Eye" is the final, epic masterpiece of the album. It starts with some heart beats, and suddenly we hear an excerpt of one of Bill Hicks', the comedian that the album dedicates to, most famous performances. It fades away after a brief amount of time, following some strange computer sounds, then some guitar noises that proceed in an increasing climax, until Maynard's voice comes in delicately in a mellow part. The song has started. The riff in this song is spectacular, and it quite often repeats during the song, even in this piece that follows. After that, Maynard's voice is yelling quite hard, with no lyrics, for just a couple of seconds. Follows a sort of jazz influenced piece that sounds almost like an improvisation of guitar, until the band reaches a new mood, mysterious, tense, waiting to explode. Only after a few minutes it explodes, and I really get goosebumps here. Another semi calm part follows, with the reprise of the main riff, and just a few moments later the song is about t end. Quite a masterpiece of progressive rock music, a track that you wont easily forget. The lyrical content is really interesting, that could refer to drugs or to something else. Their are quite fascinating and enigmatic.

As a conclusion, after this huge 2000 word review ( my record!), I have nothing else to say, if not that this album is probably one of the best albums of all time, because of it's unique style and because, despite being more than ten years old, it never lost any of it's enigmatic despair, and of course because of its scary soundscapes that penetrate your soul like no other piece of music. Essential.
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Doomster wrote:
more than 2 years ago
By abusive relationship, I mean the romantic type.
Doomster wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I disagree with your interpretation of "Pushit", to me that is about an abusive relationship. To each his own though!
more than 2 years ago
Well, it 's my favorite, even though Lateralus is another one of my favorites ever.
Doomster wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Oops, I meant it was my second favorite Tool album. loltypoz
Doomster wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Probably my second favorite album of all time. I first heard "Third Eye" when I was about 7 in my dad's car, driving home at night from my grandma's house, and nothing scared me yet enthralled me like that track.

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