TOOL — Opiate (review)

TOOL — Opiate album cover EP · 1992 · Alternative Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Sleepwalker
Tool’s debut EP, Opiate, features a completely different sound from later releases. Actually, the sound seems not to have very much in common with the following release, Undertow. Despite this, there are some elements that are distictive for Tool’s style that are also present on this album. Most notable being the aggresive bass playing by Paul D’amour, that has quite a few things in common with future bassist Justin Chancellor; Maynard James Keenan’s excellent vocals; and the grungy guitar playing by Adam Jones. Danny Carey doesn’t seem to have developed his distictive drum patterns on this album, although the drumming sounds good nevertheless.

Personally, I didn’t expect much of this EP at all. The album doesn’t get all too high ratings on the internet, which was the main reason for these expectations. I was very pleasantly surprised though. The album started with “Sweat”, an aggresive song that sounds absolutely great. Somewhat immature perhaps, compared to the bands later work, but nevertheless an excellent track. The EP continues in this mood, which is aggresive and grungy. “Hush” was Tool’s first single. A controversial one, looking at the lyrics and video. It’s not quite as good as “Sweat”, if you ask me, but still very enjoyable and raw. About the same goes for “Part Of Me”, good but not outstanding. Next we find two tracks that are live recordings actually. Both share an intruduction that contributes to the raw nature of the music. “Cold and Ugly” is performed “for that Bob Marley wannabe motherf*cker out here”. I like these two live tracks more than the preceding two tracks and once again the songs are angry, raw and aggresive. The album closes with the title track, which also features a hidden track called “The Gaping Lotus Experience”. Being perhaps the least straight-forward track of the EP, “Opiate” is probably my least favorite piece here. The hidden track already mentioned is a nice and unexpected ending of the album, featuring some very present flanger effects and funny lyrics. Not aggresive this time, but somewhat psychedelic.

I personally don’t see why Opiate is seen by many as not much of a good debut album. Sure, it might sound a little immature compared to future releases and it doesn’t yet show much of Tool’s distictive sound, but it’s a great release anyway, full of passionate anger, rawness and sheer aggresion. Not quite a masterpiece, no, not at all, but a great release for sure. Tool’s Opiate most definitely deserves four stars in my opinion.
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