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  • Look Back: Tool — "Opiate"

    Thu, 21 Mar 2013 09:36:10

    Look Back: Tool — "Opiate" - By ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino…

    Maynard James Keenan Photos

    • Maynard James Keenan - INDIO, CA - APRIL 13:  Maynard James Keenan of Puscifer performs onstage during day 2 of the 2013 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at The Empire Polo Club on April 13, 2013 in Indio, California.

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    As the old adage goes, less is more. However, in Tool's case, less is a whole lot more. Ever since they released their 1992 debut EP, Opiate, the Los Angeles quartet has only unveiled four full-length albums—Undertow, Ænima, Lateralus, and 10,000 Days. However, each one of them is a classic in its own right and will be regarded as such until the end of time. That's no lie just ask any of their millions of fans who can't ever get enough. Look at the comments sections of any online article about Tool. Fans will spout off countless reasons why each release is their best album. That brings us to where it all began, Opiate.

    On March 26, Tool will unleash a 21st anniversary limited edition package of the album with new artwork and other bonus features. There are also only 5,000, and they'll undoubtedly be gobbled up immediately by the Tool horde. Why is that you uninitiated may ask?

    Well, it's because the songs on Opiate are that vibrant, vicious, and vital. There's a life coursing through the EP that few albums can emulate. They're not as lengthy as Tool's later fare, but the punch they pack is just as potent.

    The collection kicks off with "Sweat". A guttural Adam Jones riff oozes raw intensity as Maynard James Keenan's signature croon takes center stage. Danny Carey's drums wrap around Paul d'Amour's bass in a blissfully violent polyrhythmic syncopation. Tool comes to life like a beast with teeth bared and claws out. It's a landmark song. It even appeared in a key scene of Escape from L.A.—which was highly underrated, mind you.

    "Hush" spawned the famous music video where the guys actually appear, and it's equally fierce, but there's a strange vulnerability that Keenan allows. That's just before "Part of Me" breaks open the doors again with a signature Jones six-string slam and a violently beautiful beat from Mr. Carey. "Cold and Ugly" is recorded live here, and the band opened a show or two on the Lateralus tour cycle. "I am frightened," Keenan admits on the hook. You should be too, because once this one creeps in your head you never forget it.

    "Hush" Music Video

    "Jerk-Off" has a title that belies its deeper implications—another Tool signature we'd see later on. "Opiate" remains one of the band's best songs. It's a dissection of organized religion under a cavalcade of guitars, bass, and drums. Keenan sounds heavenly hypnotic as he sings, "Let me lay my holy hand upon you". Of course, it spirals into something much darker, but that's the point. It's about organized religion.

    Those are your reasons to go back and pick up this 21st anniversary edition. It stems back to celebrating those immense, infectious, incomparable, and inimitable songs.

    Remember kids, less really is more.

    Rick Florino

    What's your favorite song from Opiate?

    See Metallica, Mastodon, Gojira, and more talk Tool here!

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    Tags: Tool, Maynard James Keenan, Danny Carey, Paul d'Amour, Metallica, Mastodon, Gojira

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