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VINE VOICEon 4 February 2007
"Aenima" was a breathe of fresh air amidst a late 90's mess of post-grunge dribble, arriving nu-metal fiascos and a host of supposedly alternative bands creating rather mundane and tired music. Tool swiped all of this mess aside with this sprawling 77-minute masterpiece.

And yes, I do consider this album a masterpiece - one for the modern generation of rock and metal fans. Not since Pink Floyd's mid 70's heyday had a band created something with such thought-provoking intensity and fluid combination of technical ecstasy and outstanding, often complex, song writing. As a result, this album has become my most listened to, most appreciated and simply most adored album.

To put this album into a bit of context - Tool had released one LP, 1993's "Undertow", and a short EP, 1992's "Opiate". While "Opiate" was fun and genuinely aggressive, it lacked decent song writing and was a bit one-dimensional. This was changed with "Undertow", a brooding transitional album which saw the band fuse the raw aggression they had with a new sophisticated song writing approach, often drawing out song structures and adding a whole new level of musical complexity. The signs were there - the technical abilities were on display, structures were becoming more ambitious and intricate - so really, the makings of Aenima had already begun way before the band set out to create it.

"Aenima" is for me the most mysterious Tool release. Their other albums, including this year's "10,000 Days" release, all have more obvious themes and take less time to peel apart and decipher. "Aenima" has the oddest art and layout, all of it being very dark and cryptic, including a strange painting of Bill Hicks as a doctor, a neon purple man with his forehead open to reveal a glimmering third eye, and babies being chased by strange green beings. There is also a rant excerpt in the liner art discussing the dangers of "anaesthetic" states. It also gives meaning to the album's title - being both a physical and mental experience.

And this is a fair claim from the band. "Aenima" is both intensely thought provoking in its themes and messages, but also musically exhilarating, which translates into a wonderful physical experience. An experience which begins with one of the band's most well known songs, the rocking "Stinkfist". "All good albums have a song about anal sex" I have read Maynard James Keenan jokingly saying in an interview, and well, here is that tongue-in-cheek aspect of his character in song. While many attempt to come up with obscure and hidden meanings behind the lyrics, it is essentially to do with two people joining (anal sex or not), to help each other. Musically it is a great opener, with lots of catchy riffs from Adam Jones, complemented by Justin Chancellor's bold bass tones, and all set off by the wizardry of the multi-limbed Danny Carey. The song has a rather straightforward verse/chorus beginning but this gives way to an excellent climatic finish, involving swift section changes and contrasting dynamics.

"Eulogy" is the sound of the new evolved Tool. A long drawn-out introduction builds its way to a typically menacing MJK talk/whisper, then pummels into a barrage of fuzzy guitars and soaring vocals, instantly displaying the outstanding vocal range of Keenan. Through its 9 minute entirety the song weaves in and out of sections, themes and motifs, combining alternate time signatures, powerful confrontational vocals and flat-out rocking moments. This is the statement of the new Tool, and the wondrous styling does not cease hereafter.

Instead of going through each individual song, and explaining aspects of it, I shall pick out my personal highlights, starting with "46&2". This song was my initial favourite on the album due to its accessible structuring and extremely contagious bass riff. This song is really the shining point for the rhythm section, with English bassist Justin Chancellor creating the best riff of the album, and Carey almost stealing the show with his bewildering, seemingly off-time drum break that never crosses the border into technical masturbation as he keeps it concise, and fuses it with the song perfectly. The song also has an inspiring and uplifting theme to it, that of "stepping out of your shadow", a philosophical idea created by Carl Jung - "the shadow is an unconscious complex that is defined as the repressed and suppressed aspects of the conscious self". Here Keenan sings of shedding skin, stepping out of the shadow, ultimately evolving into a bettered being - portrayed both mentally but also physically with the evolution of gaining two extra chromosomes to make 46.

The title track is another straightforward rocker, and again showcases a very catchy lead riff and the amazing vocal range of Keenan, sliding from laid-back melancholy to the spitting, visceral chorus lines attacking the poor social state of L.A. It is the most aggressive song on the album, and harkens back to the "Undertow" and "Opiate" days.

For me the sheer excellence of this album comes in the two large pieces, "Pushit" and "Third Eye". Thematically these two songs are very different, with "Pushit" looking at the struggles of personal relationships, and how one has to come to the decision to end a relationship if the situation is becoming out of control, while "Third Eye" comments on the utility of mind altering drugs as augmenting personal, artistic, cultural growth, development, and understanding of the nature of existence...opening one's third eye. Musically though, these two songs are simply stunning, and the most ambitious works on the album. "Pushit" starts in a rather meandering fashion, with a less than inspired lead riff and chorus section. But the band does not let this continue for long, creating one of the most desolate and menacing bridges I have ever heard, with Keenan's haunting whispers of "pushed me somewhere I don't want to be". This slowly and patiently builds into THE most exhilerating song climax I have ever experienced. The ending to this song still sends my hairs on end if I'm in the mood for it, even after hundreds of listens. It needs to be heard, simple as that. "Third Eye" follows a similar formula, with lots of weaving and subtle sections, all contrasting dynamics and themes, gradually building to a beautiful and monumental ending. Again musically describing this song is ultimately pointless as its structure is so vast and challenging, one simply has to sit down and experience it. These two songs especially need repeated listens as they are way too much to swallow first time.

And this is really the theme for the rest of the album, it is a massive body of work, and will need a lot of dedicated time and effort to really unravel its beauty and power. Even today after listening to this hundreds of times through, I am still questioning notions, picking up new sounds, new themes. A truly epic piece of work, and a modern classic every fan of rock or metal should experience.
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on 25 July 2001
Very few albums of the last 50 years can truely be considered Masterpieces. Led Zepplin IV (Led Zepplin), Master of Puppets(Metallica) and Ok Computer (Radiohead) are probably the only ones that spring to MY mind at least. Enter Aenima.
I bought the album 3 years ago while on Holiday in America. After the first listen I honestly didnt appreciate it. I mean I didnt think it was a bad album, I just couldnt put my finger on what was so different about it that made it hard to understand.
After 6 months it hit me like a right hook. The lyrics combined with the truely unique music behind them, made my jump up. Literally.
The album is perhaps the best answer to the nu-metal bubblegum pop that is so popular nowadays. Its truely a special thing. Only after 60 or 70 listens (Yes, that many!) can the full genius, complexity and unique nature of both the band and album, become apparent. The album starts off with the unusual Stinkfist, full of anger yet understanding. The duality of the lyrics later becomes apparent. Eulogy is perhaps one of the best songs on the album, Maynard bares his soul for the first time on the album and its breathtaking. H is next and it continues the tread of metaphysical lyrics and dynamic song structure. Hooker with a Penis is an angry jab at the "trendy" fans that follow every band and turn on them when the band gets some recognition. Its a very bitter and unique song, spat at you by Keenan. Jimmy is perhaps the best song recorded in the 90s. It tells of Maynard's inner feelings of being left alone, and there are many layers to the song. Pushit is another song where Keenan bares all for the world to see, his emotional words hit home with an awestriking finale which shows his vocal brilliance. Aenema is a bitter commentary on the way America's (especially LA's) way of life which a furious drum beat and grinding guitar riff throughout. The final song, Third Eye, Sampling the funniest man ever to live (Bill Hicks), is a near 15 minute marathon of emotions, hitting the peak with the repition of "prying open my third Eye" to me is a metaphore for the themes Tool put forward. Great song to end with.
Overall it is the most important album of the 90s and also the most under appreciated. A truely mavellous album with lyrics so complex you have to have a good level of intelligence to fully comprehend them. Wow.
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on 15 March 2006
Having never really been a Metal fan of any sort, I still to this day find it surprising that I am such a dedicated follower of Tool. They are simply one of those bands that can - despite their particular genre - appeal to the masses; anyone with an ear for a hypnotic melody or a sophisticated ensemble will appreciate the magnificence of their sheer musicianship.
Still, the band comes under a lot of stick for being overly pretentious. However if it were not for Tool's self-absorbed blend of art-rock and progressive thrash metal, then the alternative scene as we know it today would be somewhat very different.
And in truth, Tool's influence on the music scene came about some ten years ago with the release of this very record. A tour de force of aggressive elegance, Ænima holds the listener from the opening "Stink Fist", with its powerful breaks and dynamic melodies, to the momentous "Third Eye". Maynard James Keenan's unique vocal style is the most obvious individuality Tool have over their contempories; however, the vigorous authority of the rythmn section and Adam Jones' archetypal guitar playing (combining the traditional heavy-rock Jimmy Page-style riffs with Robert Fripp-esque overtones) help to display Tool's dominance over the rock scene.
Throughout Tool's 14 years, they have developed greatly as musicians - the most prominant development can be seen between the more simplistic "Undertow" (released in 1993) and this record. Ænima remains the band's finest effort to date, and even if you're not a Metal fan in the slightest, this is still worth checking out for its sheer brilliance.
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VINE VOICEon 21 January 2007
"Aenima" was a breathe of fresh air amidst a late 90's mess of post-grunge dribble, arriving nu-metal fiascos and a host of supposedly alternative bands creating rather mundane and tired music. Tool swiped all of this mess aside with this sprawling 77-minute masterpiece.

And yes, I do consider this album a masterpiece - one for the modern generation of rock and metal fans. Not since Pink Floyd's mid 70's heyday had a band created something with such thought-provoking intensity and fluid combination of technical ecstasy and outstanding, often complex, song writing. As a result, this album has become my most listened to, most appreciated and simply most adored album.

To put this album into a bit of context - Tool had released one LP, 1993's "Undertow", and a short EP, 1992's "Opiate". While "Opiate" was fun and genuinely aggressive, it lacked decent song writing and was a bit one-dimensional. This was changed with "Undertow", a brooding transitional album which saw the band fuse the raw aggression they had with a new sophisticated song writing approach, often drawing out song structures and adding a whole new level of musical complexity. The signs were there - the technical abilities were on display, structures were becoming more ambitious and intricate - so really, the makings of Aenima had already begun way before the band set out to create it.

"Aenima" is for me the most mysterious Tool release. Their other albums, including this year's "10,000 Days" release, all have more obvious themes and take less time to peel apart and decipher. "Aenima" has the oddest art and layout, all of it being very dark and cryptic, including a strange painting of Bill Hicks as a doctor, a neon purple man with his forehead open to reveal a glimmering third eye, and babies being chased by strange green beings. There is also a rant excerpt in the liner art discussing the dangers of "anaesthetic" states. It also gives meaning to the album's title - being both a physical and mental experience.

And this is a fair claim from the band. "Aenima" is both intensely thought provoking in its themes and messages, but also musically exhilarating, which translates into a wonderful physical experience. An experience which begins with one of the band's most well known songs, the rocking "Stinkfist". "All good albums have a song about anal sex" I have read Maynard James Keenan jokingly saying in an interview, and well, here is that tongue-in-cheek aspect of his character in song. While many attempt to come up with obscure and hidden meanings behind the lyrics, it is essentially to do with two people joining (anal sex or not), to help each other. Musically it is a great opener, with lots of catchy riffs from Adam Jones, complemented by Justin Chancellor's bold bass tones, and all set off by the wizardry of the multi-limbed Danny Carey. The song has a rather straightforward verse/chorus beginning but this gives way to an excellent climatic finish, involving swift section changes and contrasting dynamics.

"Eulogy" is the sound of the new evolved Tool. A long drawn-out introduction builds its way to a typically menacing MJK talk/whisper, then pummels into a barrage of fuzzy guitars and soaring vocals, instantly displaying the outstanding vocal range of Keenan. Through its 9 minute entirety the song weaves in and out of sections, themes and motifs, combining alternate time signatures, powerful confrontational vocals and flat-out rocking moments. This is the statement of the new Tool, and the wondrous styling does not cease hereafter.

Instead of going through each individual song, and explaining aspects of it, I shall pick out my personal highlights, starting with "46&2". This song was my initial favourite on the album due to its accessible structuring and extremely contagious bass riff. This song is really the shining point for the rhythm section, with English bassist Justin Chancellor creating the best riff of the album, and Carey almost stealing the show with his bewildering, seemingly off-time drum break that never crosses the border into technical masturbation as he keeps it concise, and fuses it with the song perfectly. The song also has an inspiring and uplifting theme to it, that of "stepping out of your shadow", a philosophical idea created by Carl Jung - "the shadow is an unconscious complex that is defined as the repressed and suppressed aspects of the conscious self". Here Keenan sings of shedding skin, stepping out of the shadow, ultimately evolving into a bettered being - portrayed both mentally but also physically with the evolution of gaining two extra chromosomes to make 46.

The title track is another straightforward rocker, and again showcases a very catchy lead riff and the amazing vocal range of Keenan, sliding from laid-back melancholy to the spitting, visceral chorus lines attacking the poor social state of L.A. It is the most aggressive song on the album, and harkens back to the "Undertow" and "Opiate" days.

For me the sheer excellence of this album comes in the two large pieces, "Pushit" and "Third Eye". Thematically these two songs are very different, with "Pushit" looking at the struggles of personal relationships, and how one has to come to the decision to end a relationship if the situation is becoming out of control, while "Third Eye" comments on the utility of mind altering drugs as augmenting personal, artistic, cultural growth, development, and understanding of the nature of existence...opening one's third eye. Musically though, these two songs are simply stunning, and the most ambitious works on the album. "Pushit" starts in a rather meandering fashion, with a less than inspired lead riff and chorus section. But the band does not let this continue for long, creating one of the most desolate and menacing bridges I have ever heard, with Keenan's haunting whispers of "pushed me somewhere I don't want to be". This slowly and patiently builds into THE most exhilerating song climax I have ever experienced. The ending to this song still sends my hairs on end if I'm in the mood for it, even after hundreds of listens. It needs to be heard, simple as that. "Third Eye" follows a similar formula, with lots of weaving and subtle sections, all contrasting dynamics and themes, gradually building to a beautiful and monumental ending. Again musically describing this song is ultimately pointless as its structure is so vast and challenging, one simply has to sit down and experience it. These two songs especially need repeated listens as they are way too much to swallow first time.

And this is really the theme for the rest of the album, it is a massive body of work, and will need a lot of dedicated time and effort to really unravel its beauty and power. Even today after listening to this hundreds of times through, I am still questioning notions, picking up new sounds, new themes. A truly epic piece of work, and a modern classic every fan of rock or metal should experience.
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The Radiohead of metal produce a timeless classic for all fans of REAL music.Innovative, powerful, thought provoking and beautiful,aenemia will leave you to make up your own mind.From the simply outstanding "stinkfist" to the crushing finale of "third eye" Tool take you on a journey of sound vibration and light.Breath taking guitar and drum work are staggered in a way totaly unique to this L.A. quartet.Vocalist Maynard James Keenan bares a genuinely tortured soul in his lyrics and this is perhaps what makes this album so special.Its YOUR jigsaw puzzle.Put the pieces together however you personally desire.Whilst this may sound a little heavey,(obviousley i'm a big Tool fan),the basic class and pedigree of the music is not hidden in any riddle."stinkfist", "aenemia" ,"jimmy" and the ridulously amazing "eulogy" are bonafide classics whilst "pushit","usefull idiot" and "third eye" can only be described as metal poetry.If you hate all that's shit about groups like "Oasis",then buy this album.
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on 23 January 2002
That is, presuming you have the patience to listen to a song longer than three and a half minutes and isn't about breaking stuff.
Anyway, how can I possibly dislike a band that loves Bill Hicks as much as I do? The final track on this CD is a sort of homage to him. As well as the sample at the beginning of the song, the lyrics are based on one of Bill's sketches. Check Bill out - he told the truth and made it hysterically funny - another dead hero, as Tool put it on the inside cover of Aenima.
If you haven't heard Tool before, think of Nine Inch Nails hard edged crunch and emotional vocals crossed with System Of A Down's incisive wit and individuality and throw in a handful of Pink Floyd/Led Zeppelin prog rock brought smack up to date. That doesn't go anywhere near explaining Tool, but it's a start.
I'd have to say the real stars of Aenima are the first two tracks, but there are many other gems on the album. The opener, Stinkfist is one of the best songs I have ever heard - twisted as the lyrics are! Then Eulogy is blissfully psychedelic and the subject matter is sarcastic and cutting. Then there's the searingly emotional H and the wonderful Forty Six and Two. By that time I'm usually so blissfully entwined in the music I start to drift off into that place only really good music can take you to!
Some people slam or plaudit Tool's music for being intricate (it isn't, but every note is in the right place). But I would say it is the space within the music that makes them so totally hypnotic.
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on 21 May 2006
Bottom line?...YOU NEED THIS ALBUM, You want this album and you don't even know it yet. Let me let you in on a little secret, Tool are the best Rock/Metal/Whatever band in the world, in any setting, full stop.

I first heard this album after seeing the video to Ænema, yes it's 'Music Television in being helpful Shocker'! I saw that video and had to hear more. This album changed my life, seriously, not in a cheesy 'This album saved my life' sort of way, but in the fact that when I first bought this album it didn't leave my CD player for 3 months. I mean that is exaggerating a bit, I listened to other stuff, but this album didn't leave the vicinity of my CD player for three months. I would listen to this album at least 4 times a day, to the point of being obsessive, like a freak. It changed the way I perceived music.

The thing is, it doesn't even sound like normal music, it sounds alive, organic even. At first I didn't understand how four people could make that sound, well...if I'm honest, I still don't understand how they make that sound. This is the kind of album you absorb, it sort of sinks in without you realizing it, and all of a sudden you find yourself singing along (even if you have no idea what he's singing about most of the time!).

The best thing is, the more you listen, the more you get, (this is also true of the lyrics, when you read them you start to understand the staggering scope of it all). Turn it up, you'll hear something new! Listening to this album on headphones is like listening to the world end...In a good way! Ten years on I'm still constantly surprised by it! This is the best album in my entire catalogue of CD's, and although I know that means nothing to you, just take into account that, like the inlay would suggest, the late Bill Hicks (R.I.P.) was a fan, and that man knew what he was talking about!

So really what I'm waffling on about, (and quite possibly making a scene of myself, ranting like some deranged child), is that anyone with even a passing interest in music should own this album. It doesn't even matter what type of music you're in to, this album has something for you. Tool's other albums, '10,000 Days', 'Lateralus','Undertow' and the first E.P. 'Opiate' are all classic albums, and make up a near flawless collection of music, and I would recommend any of them, but above all, START HERE. BUY ÆNIMA. DONT LOOK BACK. IMPROVE YOUR EXISTENCE. LEARN TO SWIM.

Oh... and also the imported American cover is all special and holographic, insignificantly I know, but I'm just pointing it out!
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on 1 January 2017
If you should hear one record, should your interest in the occult "remain and never leave you" then this album is the one you should listen too.

With mystical and time arrangements to confuse even the most advanced intellectual alien....the songs on this record represent something quite astounding.
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on 17 February 2004
A lot has already been said, so I'll keep it short.
It's not the most accessible of albums, you WILL need to play it a few times to appreciate it, but it is multi-layered, innovative, and individual, and it will become one of your favourites. Some tracks will haunt, some will bring on a rush, some will just leave you puzzled for a long time, until they sink in.
I will be honest and say that there are weaker tracks, but I still give it 5 stars because the overall quality of their music is beyond most bands.
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on 3 February 2002
This album is absolutely brilliant. Songs like Eulogy, H , 46 and 2 and Aenima make this album to be one of the greatest c.d's of all time. Maynards voice is very powerful , especially in the 2nd song Eulogy. The guitar riffs are fantastic and the bass fits in perfectly with the fabulous drumming. They are the best band in the world at the moment as they are heavy but not screamy, unlike Slipknot who are absolutely pathetic. Tool manage to keep their music heavy and very rhythmetic at the same time. They have influenced many bands are will definitely influence many bands to come.I think Aenima is one of the best albums they have done, very very nearly as good as Lateralus,but an album better than Lateralus is hard to find. So, if you have the money, get Lateralus, if you have more money, get Lateralus and Aenima. Then save up for Undertow.
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