Tool – Ænima
We move to 1996 and here we have 77:18 of Tool brilliance. Their second studio album, here’s where Tool finally went friggin’ huge. It’s also their first with new bassist Justin Chancellor.
The album name combines ‘anima’ (Latin for soul, often used by Carl Jung) and enema. Because Tool. I love the lenticular cover art, the whole package is just stellar.
Let’s dig in, shall we…
Stinkfist, the first single, is a perfect Tool song. Everything they’d learned and built upon to this point is encapsulated in this one track. Damn.
Eulogy, which (drummer) Danny Carey said was about L. Ron Hubbard, has an intro with a lightly Eastern feel to it as it slowly builds, adding drums to those stabbing notes… the guitar comes in as the song finally hits its stride, and Maynard’s vocals on the verses sound are so filtered and processed it sounds like he’s coming through a megaphone. Of course, eventually the whole thing achieves lift-off and is another big track. Even the breakdown section is cool.
H., the second single, fuzz-riffs its way into being. While the verse sections are gentle, lightly drummed sections while the guitar snakes in the background, the chorus is arena-ready massiveness. The middle bit with the repeating guitar while the drums pound and Maynard sings beautifully over excellent chord changes is amazing. The control here is incredible, and when it all crashes to a close you know Tool was here.
Useful Idiot is 0:39 of a record spinning after having reached its center. Not sure why this is placed here at track 4 instead of at the end of the record, but there ya go.
Forty Six & 2 was the fourth single, and it’s another slinky riff, also eastern in feel. When the main bit kick in it rocks like hell. Complicated time signatures are back and it’s glory. The ending is absolutely punishing like being punched. Wow!
Message To Harry Manback is lovely piano music over beach and gull noises, which someone who had been a gust of Maynard’s leaves an angry answering machine message about being forced to leave Maynard’s house. At least it’s short.
Hooker With A Penis is aggressive and hard, reportedly written in response to a fan who claimed Tool had sold out after their first EP. Haha whut, who would say that? I see dumb people! Ah well. This song kills, and absolutely rocks the hell out, especially at the ending.
Intermission is less than a minute of whacky organ music. Can you spot that it is the riff from Jimmy?
Reportedly, Maynard told audiences that Jimmy was the sequel to Prison Sex, getting through the abuse. It really starts to take off for a bit around 2:05 or so. Ah yeah. There’s power and understanding and pain and emotion here. Heavy track.
I’ve copied, verbatim, the Wiki bit on Die Eier Von Satan. Why try to explain all of this myself?
The fourth, and most controversial segue is the Neue Deutsche Härte style “Die Eier von Satan”, functioning as the album’s easter egg and as a follow up of sorts to Undertow’s hidden track “Disgustipated”. It is introduced by a distorted bassline giving way to a heavy industrial guitar, starting at the :23 mark and lasting only ten seconds, playing a single note in Drop C tuning over a reversed drum beat in compound triple meter. It is in the time signature of 4½/4 (3 quarter notes + 1 dotted quarter note), expressed as alternating 5/8 and 2/4 or 9/8. The structure makes the beat feel as if it is going out of time in one measure only to correct itself in the next one, with odd and even seemingly battling one another for supremacy as the tension escalates. The lyrical component of the song is spoken in German by Marko Fox, bass player for ZAUM and SexTapes. He is backed by a sound that resembles a hydraulic press, and crowd cheering and applause that increase in volume as the lyrics are read with increasing ferocity. These combined effects make the song sound like a militant German rant or Nazi rally. While the shocking, aggressive tone and “von Satan” in the title may suggest having to do with the Church of Satan the speaker is merely reciting an innocuous cookie recipe. The band tried working titles like “The Final Recipe” (playing on Final Solution) and “Holocaust in 9/8“, an allusion to the 1972 Genesis epic “Supper’s Ready” and its final section “Apocalypse in 9/8” and “As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men’s Feet)”. The song was originally translated by Gudrun Fox. According to Blair McKenzie Blake, the maintainer of the official Tool website, “Die Eier von Satan” originally were cookies that “Marko Fox’s grandmother used to bake for him as a child, without using eggs as an ingredient. The substitution for eggs is a magical incantation from the worm-eaten pages of some moldering grimoire.” This magical incantation (“sim salabim bamba sala do saladim”) is taken from the German children’s song “Auf einem Baum ein Kuckuck” and popularized by Harry August Jansen. According to the lyrics, the special ingredient besides this “incantation” is actually “a knife-tip of Turkish hashish”. The title is a play on deviled eggs, translating to “The Eggs of Satan” in English or “The Balls of Satan”, due to a German double entendre of “Eier”, which can either mean “eggs” or serve as slang for testicles. While there may not be eggs, “balls” do appear in the form of “ground nuts” (150 grams) while the dough itself is rolled into tiny balls before baking. So far the only time it has been performed live in its entirety was on December 19, 1996 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. The track has been compared to the work of industrial and experimental artists such as Einstürzende Neubauten, Rammstein and Tom Waits.
Whew! But this ought to give you an indication of the depths and intelligence that goes into every Tool track. Incredible.
Pushit build and crashes like waves, as only Tool can do it – menacingly, beautifully, intelligently. The sound finally gets a real lift around 3:55. Another extended, quieter middle section is present. And, as ever, they’ve left the real crashing and banging for the ending.
Cesaro Summability starts off with a baby crying, which gets messed with and echoed. A voice tries to come through as though on a fading radio station while a guitar revs like an engine. Not entirely necessary, but there you go.
Ænima was the third single, and is probably my favourite Tool song. I love everything about it. Referencing Bill Hicks (who also appears in the booklet as “another fallen hero.” Basically, the song hates California and everyone in it, and the sooner the San Andreas fault breaks and buries it underwater, the better. Meanwhile, the song Fucking. Rocks. I just love it. “Learn to swim! Learn to swim!” Hahaha.
(-) Ions is another interlude track. If I didn’t know better, it’s the sound of a jet flying overhead (perhaps over the water of Arizona Bay… or maybe it’s just wind, or something. Electric buzzing comes in, circling, and it’s clearly not an airplane, now. I dunno. Then robot noises. Seriously. 4:00 of weird.
Third Eye is a psychedelic drug song, while still rocking like Tool. When the lyrics come in, Maynard sounds languid, at first. Then he’s screaming… though it’s sampled into chunks, at times… The track contains samples of Bill Hicks (once again). Despite quiet moments, when this track hits hard, it hits really fucking hard. Whoa. Time to open up that third eye, folks. What an excursion this one is!
And no hidden track this time.
Tool absolutely announce themselves to be fearless, with this one. The song subjects are fascinating, they followed their artistic muses to new heights (and a couple of lows, but hey, so it goes), and they absolutely proved themselves for real yet again.
The more you listen to it, the more you hear. It’s (seemingly) endless. It’s dense, and around every corner lurks some sort of shock or revelation. But we’re all on a common mission here, and this record will get us there.
Me? I love this record.