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Tool – Lateralus

Label: BMG/Volcano Format: CD, limited CD,MC

Lateralus - detail of one page of the sleeveTool. Hmm. Can we forgive them? I mean, like, ever? After all, as the instigators of nu-metal, they are largely responsible for Limp Bizkit and Slipknot, all that big-shorted, high testosterone sports metal malarkey. Only there’s nothing remotely “sports” about Tool — no, they’re resolutely “old metal” imagewise – you know, namechecking Crowley, decorating their sleeves with mystical paraphernalia, and generally getting all apocalyptic on yo` ass.

And indeed, they’ve got doomier. Last album, Aenima, a patchy though often brilliant Industrial Metal nightmare, had a sleeve decked with poo jokes and, commendably, a lovely painting of Bill Hicks. This time, jokes are to a minimum, and there’s none of the petulance that sometimes dragged Aenima down to a level of just being something that rocked. In fact, now Tool are prog as fuck. Nine-minute tracks, swooshy space noises, tracks with more movements than an incontinent horse – yup, as Maynard himself said recently, sometimes you have to be careful you don’t end up playing “Stonehenge”.

But it works, incredibly. I guess the album’s just so dense, so solid, that it manages not to break under the weight of its own pomposity. Once you’ve got through what is quite possibly the most impressive packaging a CD has ever known, you launch straight into “The Grudge”, along with “Ticks and Leeches” the most conventional Tool track on here. And boy, is it brutal, ‘cept it keeps dipping into these slow, tuneful bits, (like happened more occasionally on Aenima) and you get the impression that the singing practice Maynard got with Billy Howerdel‘s awesome A Perfect Circle has stuck. When he wants, he can still sound majorly angry, but now he sounds more like he knows what he’s angry about. Eastern melodies, tablas, lots of effects and, of course, big fuck off chunky guitar riffs propel him onwards through “Eon Blue Apocalypse” (strangely reminiscent of the intro to Fields Of The Nephilim‘s “Preacher Man”) into stand-out track “The Patient”, which does the whole shebang – the nice bits, the shouty bits, the just plain fucking massive bits – and goes on for, like, a year. The aforementioned “Ticks and Leeches” comes on like a bastard child of Marilyn Manson‘s “Lunchbox” only without the cartoon humour.

Basically, if you can forgive them Limp Bizkit (I know, I know, but they didn’t do it on purpose, yeah?), then check it out. And make sure you stick around for surprise end track “Faaip De Oiad”, where an angry electronic cacophony and a drum kit falling off a mountain back up a really quite disturbing sample from Art Bell‘s “hey! paranoid fuckers, phone me up NOW!” radio show, which is almost worth the price of admission on its own. Oh yeah, and it Rocks as well. (DAMN! I was trying not to say that. Fuck, where’d I put those big shorts…?)

-Deuteronemu 90210, Horseman of the Apocalypse-

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