Tool – Opiate
Finding that Revolver Magazine tribute issue to Tool, recently, has led me to go back and do a series on the Tool albums. Inexplicably, I have not covered them all in these pages, yet! Oversiiiiiiiiight…
Of course, this is an EP not an album, but it’s gotta be included! I didn’t have Opiate when it came out, though I knew of Tool at the time. I went back and bought it after Undertow blew my mind…
Named for the famous Karl Marx quote “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people,” a discussion I won’t go into here. It’s just what Tool decided to name their EP, and also hey James I’ve got yer Communist Manifesto right here!
Let’s have a run through this EP…
Right off the bat, the muscular aggression of Sweat announces that Tool is not messing around. Those guitar lines, those skittering drums, that huge sound. Massive song.
Hush starts off with a funky riff and a right neighbourly “Fuck youuuuuuuu!” The rest of the song carries on in that vein, it’s definitely a kiss-off track. The “Just kidding” at the end doesn’t feel all that genuine, Maynard! Haha. Again, all the elements collide to make it a template Tool track. Love it!
Part Of Me builds off feedback into a pumelling chug of a tune, that restless energy and that strong attack that, we know well now, is the Tool trademark sound. Non-stop brilliance.
And then we get two live tracks recorded specifically for this release at the Jello Loft on New Years Eve 1991. Usually bands tack live stuff onto the end of a release like this, but Tool is not your usual band.
Cold And Ugly (live) starts off with a cheery “throw that Bob Marley wannabe motherfucker outta here…” and then the band blasts into another heavy-as-fuck tune. This was recorded well, the sound is great. The bass is incredible here, tied to those pounding drums, and the guitar wailing away while Maynard rides the crest of the non-stop wave…
Of course, Maynard’s got more hate for part of the crowd before Jerk-Off (live) starts, but once they get going this tune, with its (mildly) disorienting time signature switches and yet more perfect Tool metal is a keeper for sure. Man, Maynard had a lot of anger! I mean, this reads like a love note:
our course of action
and it doesn’t matter what’s right.
It’s only wrong if you get caught.
If consequences dictate
my course of action
I should play GOD
and shoot you myself.
I’m very tired of waiting.
and then shoot you in your fucking head.
Opiate was always a favourite of mine from this release. It’s just a perfect Tool song. Love love love everything about it. Through the good headphones, this one achieves friggin’ lift-off in the break-down sections, and those pounding drums as the track winds down… damn… and Maynard shreds his vocal chords… This is mastery, folks. What a track!
But it ain’t over yet, folks… you had to stick around, because there’s a hidden track too..
The Gaping Lotus Experience is a whacky, trippy little toss-off track that, with its goofy lyrics, was maybe better left off here, but whatever. The real heavy lifting had already been done, by this point.
As far as EPs go, as far as first offerings from new bands, and despite the hidden track, there’s only one word for this one: