Album Review: Tool – Lateralus (3in1)

AmpersandQuest

When I review albums of music I want to provide as much useful information as possible while also providing my own unique perspective on the album. Below my commentary will be a series of links for more information, lyrics, the band’s website, and a link to purchase the album. Please support the artist you enjoy!

 

Tool_-_Lateralus

Part 1

As I said above factual information about this album will be found below so I will spare you the gory details in favor of a more opinionated diatribe that will detail my feelings and interpretations of each song. If you are a big fan of Tool and have followed them for a good length of time you will understand when I say that my interpretation is not a prescription of how you should feel. I realize I haven’t covered a Tool album before and it might seem strange to really hardcore Tool fans out there to start now with Lateralus. My reason for doing so is that while I have become a really big Tool fan and love to know all the little details about them I have to be honest, this wasn’t always the case. My fandom of Tool started with this very album soon after it was released in 2001. I was a freshmen in high school, my parents were just divorced, I was a social outcast, and I turned to music to escape the harsh reality of my existence.

From my experience with all of Tool’s albums it is a blessing that Lateralus is the album that I dove off from first as it seems to be a turning point not only in my life but in the lives of the artist who created the album as they seemed to be in the midst of a spiritual and intellectual awakening. This album is chock full of inspirational themes but they are not fully realized without taking a journey through the cold dark reality of existing in this harsh modern social climate so full of cruelty and despair. Lateralus as an album served me the same purpose The Holy Bible would serve a born again Christian but obviously in a very different way. Take away the overt brainwashing that religion offers and replace it with understanding, acceptance, and enlightenment that the main characters of The Holy Bible were created to represent and you have the album Lateralus.

What we have here then is one young boy’s Rosetta Stone for life. A means by which he would come to understand all of the strange, unique, painful, and beautiful things that were happening to him. All of which seemed to come through the speakers and soak deep into his bones as the stories of the music and lyrics came to be fully realized mythos unto themselves. This album, if you cannot tell by now, means a lot to me. If I were ever able to speak to its creators I would thank them deeply for finding it within themselves to express the glorious truths of nature described in this album and having the conviction to lay the tracks down and sell it to the world without shame.

With that out-of-the-way let us begin the review and remember that the lyrics for each song can be found in a link at the bottom of the page.

Credit: Alex Grey Visit his website to purchase artistic prints at http://www.cosm.org/
Credit: Alex Grey Visit his website to purchase artistic prints at http://www.cosm.org/

              Track #1 -The Grudge – 

Let us not avoid how much this track just flat-out rocks. The instrumental work in this album from the very start is outstanding from beginning to end and the very first track does not disappoint. It leaves you with a very powerful first impression by the nature of the very aggressive kit work from Danny Carey who never seems to let up throughout the entirety of this album. Danny’s drumming prowess is in full force here and beyond. The power chords from guitarist Adam Jones may not be technically brilliant however I would argue that his composition AND his precise technique don’t really leave a lot to be desired, it’s as if he simply plays exactly the right way all the time even if it’s not wailing technical solo’s. If I wanted power metal solo’s there are plenty of artist who provide that. Tool is not that sort of band. I have also always been fond of Justin Chancellors bass work and here it serves its purpose well to seemingly make Danny’s drum set sound even more pronounced and adding just the right amount of contrast to Adam’s guitar playing. Singer Maynard James Keenan gives a very powerful performance as he always seems to do in his own way. Both guttural and operatic weaving in and out of each other in a symphony of powerful and aggressive musical backdrops.

Moving on to what I believe this song’s story is. In life, whether it be an individual, a group of people, an institution, or even yourself you will find adversaries. You will inevitably experience all of the emotions and realities of what it means to have an enemy. People will do things to hurt you, you will be singled out, be treated unfairly, and make mistakes that you will regret. This song is not about that. This song is about the willingness or lack thereof to let go of grudges. It weaves in and out of inspiration and despair as both the music and lyrics spin you round and round but all the while staying focused on the merciful release that is granted to those who learn to let go of those enemies, gangs, politicians, and regrets. While at first the song might seem to be screaming at you out of anger ultimately the point of sale comes when it all culminates in the emotional outburst and release of that anger as both music and singer collide in an epic 32 second long scream urging you to simply LET GO! The lesson here is that there is much more to be gained in life from accepting reality for what it is instead of hanging on to that which ties you down and keeps you in one place and static with your blood boiling and a soul full of regret.  I fully recommend looking deeper into the lyrics of this song because like all of Tool’s songs it could mean something totally different to you. For me, this helped me control my anger and tempered me whenever I felt my emotions could be getting the best of me. It was easy for me to think back to this track and remember how awesome it feels every time I listen to it.

             Track #2 -Eon Blue Apocalypse (Instrumental)- 

I get the sense that this song is full of grief and a great amount of pain.  It is very short and delivers what feels to me to be a “moment of silence” sort of feel. Appropriate because apparently it is an ode of sorts for the passing of guitarist Adam Jones Great Dane whose name was Eon. For me, on a thematic level, it serves as a break between the aggressive opening song and the next. It might be a track that we skip over but from time to time I like to listen to it as I reflect on life.

 

              Track #3 -The Patient-       

The intro to this roller coaster of a song feels lumbering, laborious, tedious, and filled with tension. Perhaps the title of the song is very appropriate here as it seems to feel almost like how one would feel sitting in a doctor’s waiting room as you ponder what the good doctor has to report to you. Even the opening lyrics are dripping with a feeling of restrained exuberance dying for a massive release.  As the next section continues on we are presented with growing animosity as the music gets subtly louder and the lyrics encourage you to open your heart. The meat and potatoes of the song break free as that feeling of having to wait, be quiet, and remain stoic give way to an outburst of conviction and aggressive musical themes.

I think this song can be about anything. For me personally I tend to feel it’s about living in an overly politically correct society where you are not encouraged to express yourself. Quite the opposite is definitely pronounced throughout society. Thus, we all seem to go through periods in life where we lay low, keep a low profile, and become quite apathetic towards others. I believe this song explores the importance of both being silent and introspective and expressing yourself loudly and without shame.

It is important to have a stiff upper lip and soak up the pain at times as in don’t whine and complain too much and actually BE patient. But the desire to reach out, express yourself, include others, and branch out once you’ve healed is a desire that shouldn’t be forsaken.  The reason I said this is a roller coaster of a song is because towards the end the feeling I get is much the same as waiting for the big drop off at the top of a roller coaster at a theme park. Much more appropriate to me now that I mention it would be the feeling of a tight rope walk. That you are constantly walking this fine line between apathy and empathy. That while you want to reach out to others and experience love, compassion, and community there is always a desire to return to solitude. I strongly encourage a deep and focused reading of the lyrics found at the bottom of this review.

 

Track #4 -Mantra-

 

There are a lot of interesting discussions I found online about what this track represents and also how it was recorded. If you’re interested I would definitely encourage you to check Google for the information. However, right now I just want to talk about how the song makes me feel and how it correlates with the rest of the album’s thematic aura.

The listener is graced with a very peaceful yet somehow creepy and dark sound effect. There are a couple of layers to the track to mention. Most notably what sounds like the cry’s of a whale or perhaps monks chanting. Regardless of what the artist actually did to record this track to me it serves as a way to invest the listener to focus on their inner most thoughts. It isn’t long enough to make you forget about the previous track but just long enough to get your attention heading in to the next. Which is one of the most popular songs in Tool’s entire discography so it makes sense that Tool would want people to really pay attention at this point in the album.

 

Track #5 -Schism- 

 

What stands out to me most about this song is that while it is the song they chose to be the radio friendly song of the album it is not by any means your typical arena rock and roll anthem, which I do love by the way, but they somehow managed to create a song of very pressing matters that most people don’t want to talk about and make it a chart topping hit. It’s as if they created something that isn’t supposed to appeal to everyone that by virtue of its own merit managed to soak itself into the world consciousness and took on a very powerful meaning for millions upon millions of people. It is not by any means my most cherished Tool track but I deeply respect it for what it is and what it meant for Tool being absolutely cemented in history as one of rock’s greatest bands. That does not mean this track is not chock full of philosophical importance, indeed it is, but that’s not what impresses me about it. It stands on its own as the Tool song that took music by storm without selling out.

The song itself begins with a bass intro that comes off the heels of the previous track Mantra and fits so damn well with the feeling of Mantra. The focus and attention I get from listening to Mantra is not at all broken by this intro but enhanced. The intro drones for a moment as the main bass riff that’s become so recognizable begins to enter your consciousness. Followed by Danny’s powerful drumming and Maynard’s timeless lyrics unfold before you. Musically to me this song is not the most impressive of all of Tool’s efforts but it is by no means forgettable either. Mostly because of how pressing the issues discussed in the lyrics are. To me that is where the strength of this song stands.

There is no way to view this song in a one-dimensional manner. It is about you, me, and everyone else. It is about our institutions or lack thereof. But what is the song saying about them? Personally I think the entire point of the song is that we do everything we can to promote certain ideals and convictions but fail to recognize how those seemingly virtuous and inspiring intentions also create division, animosity, hatred, bigotry, and ignorance.  It is amazing to me how our greatest intentions can give birth to such tragic failings in human kind. As the song says, you can realize that all the pieces fit but only because you watched them crumble, fail, and burn to the ground. While the song definitely encourages all of us to strive for good things in life it doesn’t bury its head in the sand when it comes to how those good things are often born from human suffering.

Perhaps this song was so successful because it’s over all message is that no matter how strong our convictions, family ties, friendships, and relationships are they will never be perfect. Everyone can relate to this message and appreciate the compassionate message it has. It doesn’t attempt to paint a pie in the sky image of the human condition but instead is honest with the listener. I am very glad this song became as popular as it did for it provided an outlet for all the animosity in the world. Also, it gives people the chance to understand just how connected we all are in the human condition and encourages us to come together in a common goal. Not in any communist hippie dippy sense but in a realistic realization that we all experience this schism in our interactions with others. We are all our own individual with our own belief structures but ultimately they are all born from a very similar place where we desire the best outcomes for not just ourselves but those around us. It is then by its very nature a message of peace and understanding. It’s not saying to tolerate bad behavior for the sake of tolerance either, rather, reaches out for us to recognize how bad behavior manifest from otherwise harmless and good intent. What a fascinating example of how music can change the world.

Part 2

   Continuing on with my review of 2001’s album from Tool entitled Lateralus. I hope you enjoyed the articles in between these reviews. Which brings to mind just how much of an influence the artist who comprise Tool have influenced the way I think about the world. I will never forget just how much more I began to appreciate art once I really got into Tool and would seek out articles and interviews of them. They always promote the idea of questioning every institution, every belief, every status quo, every piece of art, and every theory you come across in life. It is this notion that has inspired me to create and write this on going WordPress site.

                        Let’s not get side tracked with my personal anecdotes though and let us begin part 2 of this long-winded review.

                    Track #6 -Parabol-

Greeted by an atmospheric and mysterious tonal intro we find ourselves on the heels of the power driven previous track, Schism. Parabol brings you to a world of creeping fog and thick mist. It feels as though we are witnessing a man crawl out of a hole in the middle of the forest who has just rediscovered the surface and finds himself lost in the thick of reality. I don’t sense a great deal of fear in this song other than the feeling you might get being in a strange new place. We tend to fear things we do not understand but it is that which motivates us to explore and objectively identify our surroundings. The singing mirrors the music in the same low, atmospheric, and tonal way and the story of this track emerges.

Just as I described the music reminding me of a man crawling out of a hole a bit befuddled and confused with his new surroundings he begins to realize he is experiencing something profound. He is enlightening himself in a moment where he realizes he is one with his surroundings. As more information comes his way conflict burrows in his heart and longs to hold on to the precious moment when he realized the true beauty of nature all around and within him. He senses the danger and conflict coming his way and guards jealously the bright and warm light of the confines of his heart as the cold harsh reality of his mind consumes whatever comfort he had in waking up to this new reality. He is hopeful that his heart can triumph over his mind but seems to realize it is inevitable that he will have to loosen his ever so tight grip on the reality he wants to be true and begin to accept reality for what it really is. But there remains a spark of inspiration despite his realization. His reaction is further explored in the next track of this two-part song.

                    Track #7 – Parabola- 

The previous track’s slow, atmospheric, and lumbering tone’s seamlessly bleed into an aggressive, bright, and inspired rock and roll drive as our characters journey continues. I absolutely love Danny Carey’s performance in this track. His drumming to me is always the highlight when I turn this track on. It’s very rock and roll, energetic, and feels very unique at the same time. Everything else is an added bonus as the rest of the band joins in on the symphony of powerful rock and roll.

Previously I talked about a man coming to terms with his enlightenment and that he is experiencing difficulties when trying to balance his heart and mind. It isn’t until he realizes that he is not alone in his struggle to simply understand the nature that surrounds him that he finds the motivation struggle on. He finds more balance in himself once he realizes his new-found friend was just as confused and has conflated the issue just as much if not more than him while simultaneously bringing new and unique perspective to light that fundamentally changes the dynamics of reality that he had previously been sure were uncontroversial truths.

He finds this so beautiful that he begins to realize that the pain he feels inside is a lie. He doesn’t want to believe that the pain he feels can be felt by his friend, whom he loves, looks after, and wants to protect in all his vulnerability.  For a while this becomes a ritual of sorts until one day reality sets in and the true and vicious nature of reality strikes his friend down. Great anger and frustration sets in as his heart is once again tested by his mind searching for the truth all the while still holding on to the beauty he believes to be real. How can this be? How can reality be so beautiful and so god damn brutal at the same time? He digs through the remains to see if there is any discernible evidence of a soul but only finds flesh and blood further conflating his mind as it recoils to a primitive state of fear and confusion.

Our character leaves the whole scene behind and returns to the wilderness that spawned him. Over him hangs the cloud of despair that took his one and only friend from him. The same cloud that now threatens to consume him at every turn. He slowly begins to realize there is no escape from fate. His destiny is being formed and his last steps lay ahead. It is at this point he throws everything he’s learned out and clears both his heart and mind. He opens himself to nature in all of its unabashed glory and without question stops trying to make sense of it all and allows reality itself to fill him. Both the beauty and cold brutality simultaneously fill the deepest crevices of his heart, mind, and soul and in unison fill him with an omnipresent aura.

His life brief, his ability to understand it all null and void, yet his willingness to open up is the culmination of everything we all seek out of life. To understand who we are and where we are going. These two songs tell a story of life and death in a very well composed and powerful piece of art. I very strongly recommend several readings of the lyrics and even more strongly suggest seeing the very well done music video that guitarist Adam Jones put together to accompany this song. That music video directly inspired everything I had to say about these two songs to say the least. The title of the songs fit absolutely perfect. If you look at a parabola it is a line curved to represent and object traveling from point A to point B. The apex when considering these songs represents that medium in life where you become enlightened and begin  your decent into your fate. Such a beautiful and clever way to tell a story about life and death.

 

                    Track #8 -Ticks and Leaches-

We make the leap from the previous track and are greeted with a strange and rhythmic drumming performance. The bass guitar joins in producing a very deep and bellowing atmosphere. Then the guitar pulls its weight by introducing a very aggressive and very metal sounding crunch to the mix. The vocals start with a scream as the music pours through the speakers. What happens next is a bit out of the ordinary for Tool. Maynard James Keenan raps! Okay, not exactly and I don’t mean to make light of how epic this song really is. But I can’t help but feel that Maynard is actually attempting to produce the same kind of tongue twisting busting of rhymes you would hear from a hip hop artist.  It is not tacky by any means. In fact it sounds really cool with the very deep and bellowing back drop of the band’s music.

Anger, vengeance, brutal honesty, and adrenaline fill your ears and you quickly realize that this is perhaps how the artist actually feel if you push them too far. I am so grateful for these kinds of Tool songs. Songs that celebrate the aggressive nature of humanity. Songs that are a bit more on the metal side in place of the more prog rock side of Tool. That familiar prog rock feeling makes an appearance in this song as Tool seamlessly slows everything down into a really groovy guitar solo by Adam Jones. I have always been a huge fan of Adam Jones’ guitar style much more than his technique or complexity. His playing is very accurate and precise and I’ve rarely ever heard him make a mistake but that is not what’s important for me. For me, it’s his ability to compile and insert himself into Danny Carey’s drumming. He is the perfect complement to Danny. His ability to compose and direct Tool seems to make him a the spiritual leader of the group. This bridge is a perfect example of where Adam really shines as a guitarist. It doesn’t seem all that difficult to play and I’m sure any amateur to advanced player could easily figure it out. But could they compose such a piece to sound so undeniably cool? Would the have the ability to take what seemed to be nothing but a testosterone over load of a metal song and turn it into groovy prog rock bliss? That right there is why I am a huge fan of Adam Jones. He doesn’t need to show boat with fancy solo’s because it seems his main objective isn’t to impress you with wailing solos but rather capture your imagination with atmosphere and feeling.

In this particular song the focus seems to be directly on someone who has betrayed their friend and could be the thoughts and feelings of the betrayed towards the betrayer. The more mellow bridge gives you just a long enough break from the adrenaline to realize that perhaps decent people need to express their anger in order to maintain themselves. That no matter how hard you try to avoid it, some times the only way to find peace is to express your anger without being sorry for what you say. However, the calm and serenity that comes with this outlet of emotion will often lead you to realize that things are even worse than you first imagined. That certainly seems to be the case here as the music begins to pick back up. You can sense a building frustration and even more pent-up anger is about to be unleashed but this time with clarity of mind. Not to be cheesy by the second the last notes of the mellow rock bridge end the music picks back up to the more aggressive nature of the first half of the song it becomes METAL AS FUCK. Maynard unleashes a scream of epic proportions and the band enhances this with frantic and loud off beat unison that leaves me with the impression that this is the final stage of anger. This is the moment of truth where the culmination and totality of the betrayal is realized. Any anger here forth is not only justified but fully understood to be justified by both parties. A complete and total cutting of ties can take place without any unfinished business.

In essence then this song is about letting go of the bad influences in your life. It might sound like it’s saying it’s okay to lose your mind and start screaming and hollering at people but I don’t think that’s the point. My favorite thing about music and this is especially true with metal as fuck music is that you can express your inner most frustrations, regrets, and anger with people and society at large without actually hurting anyone in the process. This is a perfect pressure release valve song for when you are just having one of those days. I recommend listening to this if you are feeling pent-up. It always seems to help me when I’m too frustrated to deal.

Heavy metal is not a label I would generally use to describe Tool. However, with this and several other songs I would say that the genre only allows the artist of Tool to show you their own unique style based on a genre that is already very popular and accepted by a lot of people. Tool has definitely defined their own style and this is just another fine example of them finding new and interesting ways to perform a familiar type of music.

                    Track #9 -Lateralus-

I’ll never forget the very first time I saw Tool live and this song came on. The arena I was in was busy all night with amazing visual effects, banners of amazing artwork by Alex Grey, interesting music videos, and epic light shows. However, this song was something even more special as they chose this song to close the show. I could do nothing but sit in awe as this awesome as fuck song filled my ears and the wondrous visual effects the cleverly put together amazed my eyes.

I have a very unique take on this song that hasn’t ever been very popular with other Tool fans I know. But I can’t help the feeling I get. It happened the second time I saw Tool. Maynard was dressed as a full on Cowboy and I couldn’t help but imagine listening to this song as I was farming, hunting, fishing, or hiking. For some reason this song, while it is very rock and roll with a dash of heavy metal, has always felt like a country rhythm and blues tune. It’s just such an uplifting and adventurous song and reminds me of big open fields or giant mountain ranges. Almost as if being sung to you by an old Western sage/wise man to encourage you to seek out new boundaries and venture forth to untouched and hidden valleys of your surroundings, heart, and mind. The lyrics seem to back up my assertions very much so and I hope I can help others hear and feel what I do when I hear this song. Perhaps it’s easiest just to ask you to imagine riding a galloping horse and imagine that the hooves are hitting the ground in perfect beat with the music.

This song strongly encourages the listener to invest in their growth as an individual. To learn new things, break new ground, and to push the envelope. This song more than all of the others on this album is focused much more on the positive. I believe they really wanted to create a truly inspirational prog rock opus that relentlessly dares their listeners to explore new territories. I simply can’t help but think about a frontiersman discovering new land to explore and if I’m the only Tool fan on the planet who feels this way about this song then so be it.

Spiral out my friends.

Part 3

Track #10 -Disposition-

This is perhaps the most relaxing, cool sounding, and mellow Tool song ever written. I believe all the members of Tool must have been in a very spiritual hippie kind of place in life when they created this song and wanted to explore a new style of music. This can be risky for any band but Tool pulls it off very well. It’s placement in the album comes after the bright, colorful, and loud Lateralus theme song but it doesn’t feel like it’s here for the sole purpose of breaking up the album or just to set the stage for the remainder of the album. It does all of that and more for me personally. This song comes across as a message of contentedness, acceptance, and a desire to keep learning and experiencing new things. There is an emphasis in the music on more natural sounds especially with Danny Carey’s hand drumming performance. Maynard’s lyrics are simple yet beautifully sung with a focus on nature, the weather, and communication. Adam Jones’ guitar work is 100% pure atmosphere creation with heavy bends and cool sound effects. Justin Chancellor mirrors Jones’ guitar work on his bass giving the track a bellowing and thick foundation to stand on.

As you listen to the song try to imagine how it feels to be with family or good friends at a picnic, camping, or hiking. I really love putting this track on after I’m done running too cool off while I walk myself and my heart rate back down to earth. This song makes me feel very grounded and willing to accept what nature hands me. It also makes me want to reach out to others and share my experiences with the one’s I love. Normally when Tool does a track to break up the album and set up new ground for the next songs it is usually something simple, short, and consist of strange sound effects. As I said, this track certainly has all of that but is a fully functional and critical song to this album. I strongly feel that without this really unique Tool track Lateralus simply would not hold the weight it does. I can show this song to almost anyone and they will typically enjoy it. It’s been a great way to break the ice with someone who might have never given Tool a chance. I have a sister who listens to mostly country or pop radio music told me she never imagined a band like Tool would ever move her in a way that inspire her because of this very song. I believe that is a compliment to the artist rather than a knock or a way to say “they sold out”. It’s the fact that such a unique and wonderfully performed prog/rock song from a band as aggressive and bright as Tool can reach across genres and musical taste to reach out and touch a stranger really sticks out to me. To me this song seems to celebrate the idea of reaching out and trying new things with other people makes it all the more perfect.

When the song reaches its end don’t react yet. Just focus on what you’re hearing. Listen to the guitar and bass fading and the drum stick bouncing off the head.  Listen to the whirring background and empty your mind. Prepare for the beginning of the next track because you’re in for a big time treat. Just when you think the album could be running out of gas you are presented with an even more unique, incredibly deep, and complex song that is going to be a great challenge to review as I have so much to say about it.

                     Track #11 -Reflection-

I am going to have to be really careful not to write an entire book about this song. I have a lot to say about it because it has a lot to say to all of us.  Let’s just dive right in though and start swimming. I hope you really paid attention to the end of the previous track Disposition and how it bleed right through into the beginning of this song. Danny Carey has always prided himself and his skill. He doesn’t seem like an arrogant man but he is definitely one of the most confident drummers I have ever heard. The main reason I speak so highly of Danny Carey when top drummers list are being discussed is mostly because of how truly unique he plays. I will always appreciate and admire a more rigid and technical approach to music. Staying inside the lines so to speak is part of the art form of playing music. Mastering classic techniques and showing proficiency with them will always be impressive and Danny Carey certainly is impressive in that aspect when looking at drumming. That said, the real reason I am such a big fan of Danny Carey is just how far outside the lines he can draw yet still keep it all together without it feeling like a drug fueled drum solo.  The performance by Danny throughout this song is absolutely bullet proof and inspires me to no end. At times it sounds as if there are actually two drummers playing a duet instead of just one extremely talented man. Absolutely brilliant drumming.

By the time the bass is introduced you’ve already been experiencing a very dark, tribal, and atmospheric drumming performance. The introduction of the bass only amplifies this feeling. This is another case where the simplicity of the actual playing is not as impressive as how it was composed into the song. It makes the song feel really trippy and weird and I love it. Synth work is also introduced and adds more depth to the song making it feel almost sluggish in contrast to the incredible drumming going on.  Adam Jones guitar work sounds very eerie and creepy which fits perfect with the rest of the band. Still though, Danny Carey’s drumming stands out and almost seems to be in command of everything. It feels as if no music can take place or be added without Danny’s permission. And that’s when we get our first ghostly listen of Maynard’s singing.

This song more than the rest of the album needs to be read. Please find the song here and study it. “Lateralus Lyrics Link” This is going to be incredibly difficult to keep short but I will do my best not to bog you down here. This is a song all about you. It’s not to feed your ego however so don’t even go there. Instead try to imagine what it feels like to make a mistake but not just any mistake. The kind of mistake you can’t make up for. The guilt, shame, and indignity that comes with making those kinds of mistakes are unique because while it might seem painful and difficult it’s really a chance for you to take responsibility for yourself and own your actions. I often find it’s a means by which I get to know myself better especially as I grow older and stop blaming others for my problems.  I often find that running away from this often leads to even more severe consequences down the road so in essence failing to recognize your failures will result ultimately in even more dramatic failures in the future as you keep avoiding what ever problems are plaguing you.

The beginning of this song is so dark and makes me feel isolated and I am fairly certain that this is exactly what the artist wanted us to feel. Maynard’s voice sounds so desperate, whining, and small underneath the big giant behemoth of the instrumental. To me, the singing is the narrative of the story while the instrumental aspects of any song is the foreground and background of the narrative. Applying that idea here means to me that Maynard plays the roll of a person who’s been over whelmed with the world around them and that the instrumental music is the world around them. In this case a very dark and brooding world where fear and confusion dominate the emotional fortitude of the main character.

As the song progresses there seems to be small sparks of intuition and inspiration with our main character. I get the feeling the artist are subtly inviting us to face our problems, grit your teeth, and keep a stiff upper lip as you move on to conquer your problems.  What I love about this song in particular is how often my emotions change throughout the song. We’re used to this with all music as we follow familiar patterns of chorus and verse and interchanging them in order to elicit a certain emotion towards one thing or another. This song is no different except they seemed to composed it all in a way that seems to wax and wane between positive and negative emotions so often that I always seem to get lost in the music and start to really think about my life. It’s a wonderfully strange feeling because I am deeply impressed that a song could make me focus so damn hard on myself. It’s not an angry focus but more like healthy criticism.

This song also wants to remind us that we are not alone in our day-to-day suffering and struggle. This small consideration seems small until it turns into incredible inspiration. There is verse in this song that to me symbolizes what it means when people say “we are not alone”.  I don’t like to paste lyrics into my writing but I really want to now because I’m worried you won’t read the lyrics for yourself but if you’re a fan of music and you’re reading this please try your best to love this song after multiple times listening and after having read the lyrics.

The ending of this song last a couple of minutes as the musicians really take their time to put a strong emphasis about the urgency of living life to its fullest as often as you can while you’re still here. There is a message that repeats and drives the point home as the rest of the band really push themselves to deliver a perfect ending to this epic song that also lends itself to the next and last musical track on the album. To me the end of this album is like a trilogy of songs meant simply to be very different from anything you’ve ever heard before. That said, this particular track stands out the most. It’s just so very good especially if you’ve taken the time to really look into the lyrics after you’ve enjoyed the song a few times. I never read the lyrics to songs until after I’ve heard the music several times and I can’t stress enough how much more this song comes to life once you really dig into the lyrics.

Enjoy this song folks. Before you pine away.

 

 

Track #12 -Triad-

As you leave the ambiance of Reflection and enter into this song you might notice a steep and exponentially more aggressive theme beginning to pulse in the background.  My friends if you like flat-out rock and roll meant to make you start banging your head this is to me one of the most ultimate head banging anthems to come out of the new millennium.  The focus on this song is strictly on rocking as hard as you can while you have time to do it. This is the spirit of rock and roll and a bit of heavy metal incarnate in the form of four amazing musicians capping one of the great works off with an amazing instrumental opus meant to please the gods of rock.

I always imagined this is what an ancient tribe of musicians would sound like if they had access to modern instruments and technology. It’s easy for me to imagine a rain dance going on in the back ground or a rite of passage ceremony.  There is something so familiar and comforting in the aggressive tribal drum beats being granted to us from above by Danny “The Lion Fucker” Carey. The guitar work is once again nothing extremely technical but some how Adam Jones is able to make it sound ridiculously awesome I believe in large part once again to the talent of Danny Carey. Adam’s guitar playing just so happens to be a perfect accent to Danny’s drumming sound. That said, we do get some really cool sounding guitar solo’s in the track as well.

Justin Chancellor’s bass work is present and definitely adds a very crunchy and very round sound to the whole song. I always liked Justin’s work because of how percussive his playing seems to be. Like Adam he is the perfect accent to Danny’s drumming making it even more thunderous than it already is. There are no lyrics to this song but when I saw this song performed live Maynard James Keenan was playing a guitar and also played with a keyboard. There was also another percussionist playing some sort of tenor tama drums. It made this already really epic song even more incredible and I’ll never forget it. I believe it was the second to last song they played and the stage was ablaze with amazing artwork, incredible visual effects, intense video packages, and of course amazing musicians performing amazing music.

What we have here then is a song best listened to when you’re with a bunch of buddies doing something awesome together or if you’re by yourself you should get up and move a little bit to the music. It’s meant to be rocked out to by cool people who appreciate good rock and roll music. This song really makes me feel more connected to other Tool fans almost as if it’s our tribal war song that we all want to mosh to.  In the end that’s what this album feels like to me. I big long epic voyage with interesting twist and turns all capped off by an exclamation point.

Track #13 -Faaip De Oiad-

One of the most creepy bits of audio I’ve ever heard. It’s a track meant to catch you off guard as it’s tucked away and could be easily missed. It’s a combination of a conspiracy theory radio show getting a call about Area 51 aliens taking over the planet and eerie sound effects done by someone combined to make what feels like a horror radio show. If you ever want to creep someone out play this while they’re asleep and wake them up, tell them it’s on the radio right now and all over the TV!

This has become quite a lengthy article so I have decided to break it up in three parts. Be sure to visit the previous two articles if you haven’t already! 

 

Lateralus Wikipedia Link :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateralus

Tool Website: http://www.toolband.com/

Lateralus Lyrics Link:  https://www.toolband.com/album/lyrics/lateralus.html

Don’t forget that if you want to listen to the album, please, for the love of all that is right and just in the world. Buy the songs or the album.

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Music Review: Tool – Lateralus (2001) – Part 3

AmpersandQuest

When I review albums of music I want to provide as much useful information as possible while also providing my own unique perspective on the album. Below my commentary will be a series of links for more information, lyrics, the band’s website, and a link to purchase the album. Please support the artist you enjoy!

 

Tool_-_Lateralus

Part 1 of Review Click Here!

Part 2 of Review Click Here!

 

                      Track #10 -Disposition-

This is perhaps the most relaxing, cool sounding, and mellow Tool song ever written. I believe all the members of Tool must have been in a very spiritual hippie kind of place in life when they created this song and wanted to explore a new style of music. This can be risky for any band but Tool pulls it off very well. It’s placement in the album comes after the bright, colorful, and loud Lateralus theme song but it doesn’t feel like it’s here for the sole purpose of breaking up the album or just to set the stage for the remainder of the album. It does all of that and more for me personally. This song comes across as a message of contentedness, acceptance, and a desire to keep learning and experiencing new things. There is an emphasis in the music on more natural sounds especially with Danny Carey’s hand drumming performance. Maynard’s lyrics are simple yet beautifully sung with a focus on nature, the weather, and communication. Adam Jones’ guitar work is 100% pure atmosphere creation with heavy bends and cool sound effects. Justin Chancellor mirrors Jones’ guitar work on his bass giving the track a bellowing and thick foundation to stand on.

As you listen to the song try to imagine how it feels to be with family or good friends at a picnic, camping, or hiking. I really love putting this track on after I’m done running too cool off while I walk myself and my heart rate back down to earth. This song makes me feel very grounded and willing to accept what nature hands me. It also makes me want to reach out to others and share my experiences with the one’s I love. Normally when Tool does a track to break up the album and set up new ground for the next songs it is usually something simple, short, and consist of strange sound effects. As I said, this track certainly has all of that but is a fully functional and critical song to this album. I strongly feel that without this really unique Tool track Lateralus simply would not hold the weight it does. I can show this song to almost anyone and they will typically enjoy it. It’s been a great way to break the ice with someone who might have never given Tool a chance. I have a sister who listens to mostly country or pop radio music told me she never imagined a band like Tool would ever move her in a way that inspire her because of this very song. I believe that is a compliment to the artist rather than a knock or a way to say “they sold out”. It’s the fact that such a unique and wonderfully performed prog/rock song from a band as aggressive and bright as Tool can reach across genres and musical taste to reach out and touch a stranger really sticks out to me. To me this song seems to celebrate the idea of reaching out and trying new things with other people makes it all the more perfect.

When the song reaches its end don’t react yet. Just focus on what you’re hearing. Listen to the guitar and bass fading and the drum stick bouncing off the head.  Listen to the whirring background and empty your mind. Prepare for the beginning of the next track because you’re in for a big time treat. Just when you think the album could be running out of gas you are presented with an even more unique, incredibly deep, and complex song that is going to be a great challenge to review as I have so much to say about it.

                     Track #11 -Reflection-

I am going to have to be really careful not to write an entire book about this song. I have a lot to say about it because it has a lot to say to all of us.  Let’s just dive right in though and start swimming. I hope you really paid attention to the end of the previous track Disposition and how it bleed right through into the beginning of this song. Danny Carey has always prided himself and his skill. He doesn’t seem like an arrogant man but he is definitely one of the most confident drummers I have ever heard. The main reason I speak so highly of Danny Carey when top drummers list are being discussed is mostly because of how truly unique he plays. I will always appreciate and admire a more rigid and technical approach to music. Staying inside the lines so to speak is part of the art form of playing music. Mastering classic techniques and showing proficiency with them will always be impressive and Danny Carey certainly is impressive in that aspect when looking at drumming. That said, the real reason I am such a big fan of Danny Carey is just how far outside the lines he can draw yet still keep it all together without it feeling like a drug fueled drum solo.  The performance by Danny throughout this song is absolutely bullet proof and inspires me to no end. At times it sounds as if there are actually two drummers playing a duet instead of just one extremely talented man. Absolutely brilliant drumming.

By the time the bass is introduced you’ve already been experiencing a very dark, tribal, and atmospheric drumming performance. The introduction of the bass only amplifies this feeling. This is another case where the simplicity of the actual playing is not as impressive as how it was composed into the song. It makes the song feel really trippy and weird and I love it. Synth work is also introduced and adds more depth to the song making it feel almost sluggish in contrast to the incredible drumming going on.  Adam Jones guitar work sounds very eerie and creepy which fits perfect with the rest of the band. Still though, Danny Carey’s drumming stands out and almost seems to be in command of everything. It feels as if no music can take place or be added without Danny’s permission. And that’s when we get our first ghostly listen of Maynard’s singing.

This song more than the rest of the album needs to be read. Please find the song here and study it. “Lateralus Lyrics Link” This is going to be incredibly difficult to keep short but I will do my best not to bog you down here. This is a song all about you. It’s not to feed your ego however so don’t even go there. Instead try to imagine what it feels like to make a mistake but not just any mistake. The kind of mistake you can’t make up for. The guilt, shame, and indignity that comes with making those kinds of mistakes are unique because while it might seem painful and difficult it’s really a chance for you to take responsibility for yourself and own your actions. I often find it’s a means by which I get to know myself better especially as I grow older and stop blaming others for my problems.  I often find that running away from this often leads to even more severe consequences down the road so in essence failing to recognize your failures will result ultimately in even more dramatic failures in the future as you keep avoiding what ever problems are plaguing you.

The beginning of this song is so dark and makes me feel isolated and I am fairly certain that this is exactly what the artist wanted us to feel. Maynard’s voice sounds so desperate, whining, and small underneath the big giant behemoth of the instrumental. To me, the singing is the narrative of the story while the instrumental aspects of any song is the foreground and background of the narrative. Applying that idea here means to me that Maynard plays the roll of a person who’s been over whelmed with the world around them and that the instrumental music is the world around them. In this case a very dark and brooding world where fear and confusion dominate the emotional fortitude of the main character.

As the song progresses there seems to be small sparks of intuition and inspiration with our main character. I get the feeling the artist are subtly inviting us to face our problems, grit your teeth, and keep a stiff upper lip as you move on to conquer your problems.  What I love about this song in particular is how often my emotions change throughout the song. We’re used to this with all music as we follow familiar patterns of chorus and verse and interchanging them in order to elicit a certain emotion towards one thing or another. This song is no different except they seemed to composed it all in a way that seems to wax and wane between positive and negative emotions so often that I always seem to get lost in the music and start to really think about my life. It’s a wonderfully strange feeling because I am deeply impressed that a song could make me focus so damn hard on myself. It’s not an angry focus but more like healthy criticism.

This song also wants to remind us that we are not alone in our day-to-day suffering and struggle. This small consideration seems small until it turns into incredible inspiration. There is verse in this song that to me symbolizes what it means when people say “we are not alone”.  I don’t like to paste lyrics into my writing but I really want to now because I’m worried you won’t read the lyrics for yourself but if you’re a fan of music and you’re reading this please try your best to love this song after multiple times listening and after having read the lyrics.

The ending of this song last a couple of minutes as the musicians really take their time to put a strong emphasis about the urgency of living life to its fullest as often as you can while you’re still here. There is a message that repeats and drives the point home as the rest of the band really push themselves to deliver a perfect ending to this epic song that also lends itself to the next and last musical track on the album. To me the end of this album is like a trilogy of songs meant simply to be very different from anything you’ve ever heard before. That said, this particular track stands out the most. It’s just so very good especially if you’ve taken the time to really look into the lyrics after you’ve enjoyed the song a few times. I never read the lyrics to songs until after I’ve heard the music several times and I can’t stress enough how much more this song comes to life once you really dig into the lyrics.

Enjoy this song folks. Before you pine away.

 

 

Track #12 -Triad-

As you leave the ambiance of Reflection and enter into this song you might notice a steep and exponentially more aggressive theme beginning to pulse in the background.  My friends if you like flat-out rock and roll meant to make you start banging your head this is to me one of the most ultimate head banging anthems to come out of the new millennium.  The focus on this song is strictly on rocking as hard as you can while you have time to do it. This is the spirit of rock and roll and a bit of heavy metal incarnate in the form of four amazing musicians capping one of the great works off with an amazing instrumental opus meant to please the gods of rock.

I always imagined this is what an ancient tribe of musicians would sound like if they had access to modern instruments and technology. It’s easy for me to imagine a rain dance going on in the back ground or a rite of passage ceremony.  There is something so familiar and comforting in the aggressive tribal drum beats being granted to us from above by Danny “The Lion Fucker” Carey. The guitar work is once again nothing extremely technical but some how Adam Jones is able to make it sound ridiculously awesome I believe in large part once again to the talent of Danny Carey. Adam’s guitar playing just so happens to be a perfect accent to Danny’s drumming sound. That said, we do get some really cool sounding guitar solo’s in the track as well.

Justin Chancellor’s bass work is present and definitely adds a very crunchy and very round sound to the whole song. I always liked Justin’s work because of how percussive his playing seems to be. Like Adam he is the perfect accent to Danny’s drumming making it even more thunderous than it already is. There are no lyrics to this song but when I saw this song performed live Maynard James Keenan was playing a guitar and also played with a keyboard. There was also another percussionist playing some sort of tenor tama drums. It made this already really epic song even more incredible and I’ll never forget it. I believe it was the second to last song they played and the stage was ablaze with amazing artwork, incredible visual effects, intense video packages, and of course amazing musicians performing amazing music.

What we have here then is a song best listened to when you’re with a bunch of buddies doing something awesome together or if you’re by yourself you should get up and move a little bit to the music. It’s meant to be rocked out to by cool people who appreciate good rock and roll music. This song really makes me feel more connected to other Tool fans almost as if it’s our tribal war song that we all want to mosh to.  In the end that’s what this album feels like to me. I big long epic voyage with interesting twist and turns all capped off by an exclamation point.

Track #13 -Faaip De Oiad-

One of the most creepy bits of audio I’ve ever heard. It’s a track meant to catch you off guard as it’s tucked away and could be easily missed. It’s a combination of a conspiracy theory radio show getting a call about Area 51 aliens taking over the planet and eerie sound effects done by someone combined to make what feels like a horror radio show. If you ever want to creep someone out play this while they’re asleep and wake them up, tell them it’s on the radio right now and all over the TV!

This has become quite a lengthy article so I have decided to break it up in three parts. Be sure to visit the previous two articles if you haven’t already! 

 

Lateralus Wikipedia Link :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateralus

Tool Website: http://www.toolband.com/

Lateralus Lyrics Link:  https://www.toolband.com/album/lyrics/lateralus.html

Don’t forget that if you want to listen to the album, please, for the love of all that is right and just in the world. Buy the songs or the album.

Music Review: Tool – Lateralus (Part 2)

AmpersandQuest

 When I review albums of music I want to provide as much useful information as possible while also providing my own unique perspective on the album. Below my commentary will be a series of links for more information, lyrics, the band’s website, and a link to purchase the album. Please support the artist you enjoy!

 

Tool_-_Lateralus

Part 1 of Review Click Here!

                         Continuing on with my review of 2001’s album from Tool entitled Lateralus. I hope you enjoyed the articles in between these reviews. Which brings to mind just how much of an influence the artist who comprise Tool have influenced the way I think about the world. I will never forget just how much more I began to appreciate art once I really got into Tool and would seek out articles and interviews of them. They always promote the idea of questioning every institution, every belief, every status quo, every piece of art, and every theory you come across in life. It is this notion that has inspired me to create and write this on going WordPress site.

                        Let’s not get side tracked with my personal anecdotes though and let us begin part 2 of this long-winded review.

                    Track #6 -Parabol-

Greeted by an atmospheric and mysterious tonal intro we find ourselves on the heels of the power driven previous track, Schism. Parabol brings you to a world of creeping fog and thick mist. It feels as though we are witnessing a man crawl out of a hole in the middle of the forest who has just rediscovered the surface and finds himself lost in the thick of reality. I don’t sense a great deal of fear in this song other than the feeling you might get being in a strange new place. We tend to fear things we do not understand but it is that which motivates us to explore and objectively identify our surroundings. The singing mirrors the music in the same low, atmospheric, and tonal way and the story of this track emerges.

Just as I described the music reminding me of a man crawling out of a hole a bit befuddled and confused with his new surroundings he begins to realize he is experiencing something profound. He is enlightening himself in a moment where he realizes he is one with his surroundings. As more information comes his way conflict burrows in his heart and longs to hold on to the precious moment when he realized the true beauty of nature all around and within him. He senses the danger and conflict coming his way and guards jealously the bright and warm light of the confines of his heart as the cold harsh reality of his mind consumes whatever comfort he had in waking up to this new reality. He is hopeful that his heart can triumph over his mind but seems to realize it is inevitable that he will have to loosen his ever so tight grip on the reality he wants to be true and begin to accept reality for what it really is. But there remains a spark of inspiration despite his realization. His reaction is further explored in the next track of this two-part song.

                    Track #7 – Parabola- 

The previous track’s slow, atmospheric, and lumbering tone’s seamlessly bleed into an aggressive, bright, and inspired rock and roll drive as our characters journey continues. I absolutely love Danny Carey’s performance in this track. His drumming to me is always the highlight when I turn this track on. It’s very rock and roll, energetic, and feels very unique at the same time. Everything else is an added bonus as the rest of the band joins in on the symphony of powerful rock and roll.

Previously I talked about a man coming to terms with his enlightenment and that he is experiencing difficulties when trying to balance his heart and mind. It isn’t until he realizes that he is not alone in his struggle to simply understand the nature that surrounds him that he finds the motivation struggle on. He finds more balance in himself once he realizes his new-found friend was just as confused and has conflated the issue just as much if not more than him while simultaneously bringing new and unique perspective to light that fundamentally changes the dynamics of reality that he had previously been sure were uncontroversial truths.

He finds this so beautiful that he begins to realize that the pain he feels inside is a lie. He doesn’t want to believe that the pain he feels can be felt by his friend, whom he loves, looks after, and wants to protect in all his vulnerability.  For a while this becomes a ritual of sorts until one day reality sets in and the true and vicious nature of reality strikes his friend down. Great anger and frustration sets in as his heart is once again tested by his mind searching for the truth all the while still holding on to the beauty he believes to be real. How can this be? How can reality be so beautiful and so god damn brutal at the same time? He digs through the remains to see if there is any discernible evidence of a soul but only finds flesh and blood further conflating his mind as it recoils to a primitive state of fear and confusion.

Our character leaves the whole scene behind and returns to the wilderness that spawned him. Over him hangs the cloud of despair that took his one and only friend from him. The same cloud that now threatens to consume him at every turn. He slowly begins to realize there is no escape from fate. His destiny is being formed and his last steps lay ahead. It is at this point he throws everything he’s learned out and clears both his heart and mind. He opens himself to nature in all of its unabashed glory and without question stops trying to make sense of it all and allows reality itself to fill him. Both the beauty and cold brutality simultaneously fill the deepest crevices of his heart, mind, and soul and in unison fill him with an omnipresent aura.

His life brief, his ability to understand it all null and void, yet his willingness to open up is the culmination of everything we all seek out of life. To understand who we are and where we are going. These two songs tell a story of life and death in a very well composed and powerful piece of art. I very strongly recommend several readings of the lyrics and even more strongly suggest seeing the very well done music video that guitarist Adam Jones put together to accompany this song. That music video directly inspired everything I had to say about these two songs to say the least. The title of the songs fit absolutely perfect. If you look at a parabola it is a line curved to represent and object traveling from point A to point B. The apex when considering these songs represents that medium in life where you become enlightened and begin  your decent into your fate. Such a beautiful and clever way to tell a story about life and death.

 

                    Track #8 -Ticks and Leaches-

We make the leap from the previous track and are greeted with a strange and rhythmic drumming performance. The bass guitar joins in producing a very deep and bellowing atmosphere. Then the guitar pulls its weight by introducing a very aggressive and very metal sounding crunch to the mix. The vocals start with a scream as the music pours through the speakers. What happens next is a bit out of the ordinary for Tool. Maynard James Keenan raps! Okay, not exactly and I don’t mean to make light of how epic this song really is. But I can’t help but feel that Maynard is actually attempting to produce the same kind of tongue twisting busting of rhymes you would hear from a hip hop artist.  It is not tacky by any means. In fact it sounds really cool with the very deep and bellowing back drop of the band’s music.

Anger, vengeance, brutal honesty, and adrenaline fill your ears and you quickly realize that this is perhaps how the artist actually feel if you push them too far. I am so grateful for these kinds of Tool songs. Songs that celebrate the aggressive nature of humanity. Songs that are a bit more on the metal side in place of the more prog rock side of Tool. That familiar prog rock feeling makes an appearance in this song as Tool seamlessly slows everything down into a really groovy guitar solo by Adam Jones. I have always been a huge fan of Adam Jones’ guitar style much more than his technique or complexity. His playing is very accurate and precise and I’ve rarely ever heard him make a mistake but that is not what’s important for me. For me, it’s his ability to compile and insert himself into Danny Carey’s drumming. He is the perfect complement to Danny. His ability to compose and direct Tool seems to make him a the spiritual leader of the group. This bridge is a perfect example of where Adam really shines as a guitarist. It doesn’t seem all that difficult to play and I’m sure any amateur to advanced player could easily figure it out. But could they compose such a piece to sound so undeniably cool? Would the have the ability to take what seemed to be nothing but a testosterone over load of a metal song and turn it into groovy prog rock bliss? That right there is why I am a huge fan of Adam Jones. He doesn’t need to show boat with fancy solo’s because it seems his main objective isn’t to impress you with wailing solos but rather capture your imagination with atmosphere and feeling.

In this particular song the focus seems to be directly on someone who has betrayed their friend and could be the thoughts and feelings of the betrayed towards the betrayer. The more mellow bridge gives you just a long enough break from the adrenaline to realize that perhaps decent people need to express their anger in order to maintain themselves. That no matter how hard you try to avoid it, some times the only way to find peace is to express your anger without being sorry for what you say. However, the calm and serenity that comes with this outlet of emotion will often lead you to realize that things are even worse than you first imagined. That certainly seems to be the case here as the music begins to pick back up. You can sense a building frustration and even more pent-up anger is about to be unleashed but this time with clarity of mind. Not to be cheesy by the second the last notes of the mellow rock bridge end the music picks back up to the more aggressive nature of the first half of the song it becomes METAL AS FUCK. Maynard unleashes a scream of epic proportions and the band enhances this with frantic and loud off beat unison that leaves me with the impression that this is the final stage of anger. This is the moment of truth where the culmination and totality of the betrayal is realized. Any anger here forth is not only justified but fully understood to be justified by both parties. A complete and total cutting of ties can take place without any unfinished business.

In essence then this song is about letting go of the bad influences in your life. It might sound like it’s saying it’s okay to lose your mind and start screaming and hollering at people but I don’t think that’s the point. My favorite thing about music and this is especially true with metal as fuck music is that you can express your inner most frustrations, regrets, and anger with people and society at large without actually hurting anyone in the process. This is a perfect pressure release valve song for when you are just having one of those days. I recommend listening to this if you are feeling pent-up. It always seems to help me when I’m too frustrated to deal.

Heavy metal is not a label I would generally use to describe Tool. However, with this and several other songs I would say that the genre only allows the artist of Tool to show you their own unique style based on a genre that is already very popular and accepted by a lot of people. Tool has definitely defined their own style and this is just another fine example of them finding new and interesting ways to perform a familiar type of music.

                    Track #9 -Lateralus-

I’ll never forget the very first time I saw Tool live and this song came on. The arena I was in was busy all night with amazing visual effects, banners of amazing artwork by Alex Grey, interesting music videos, and epic light shows. However, this song was something even more special as they chose this song to close the show. I could do nothing but sit in awe as this awesome as fuck song filled my ears and the wondrous visual effects the cleverly put together amazed my eyes.

I have a very unique take on this song that hasn’t ever been very popular with other Tool fans I know. But I can’t help the feeling I get. It happened the second time I saw Tool. Maynard was dressed as a full on Cowboy and I couldn’t help but imagine listening to this song as I was farming, hunting, fishing, or hiking. For some reason this song, while it is very rock and roll with a dash of heavy metal, has always felt like a country rhythm and blues tune. It’s just such an uplifting and adventurous song and reminds me of big open fields or giant mountain ranges. Almost as if being sung to you by an old Western sage/wise man to encourage you to seek out new boundaries and venture forth to untouched and hidden valleys of your surroundings, heart, and mind. The lyrics seem to back up my assertions very much so and I hope I can help others hear and feel what I do when I hear this song. Perhaps it’s easiest just to ask you to imagine riding a galloping horse and imagine that the hooves are hitting the ground in perfect beat with the music.

This song strongly encourages the listener to invest in their growth as an individual. To learn new things, break new ground, and to push the envelope. This song more than all of the others on this album is focused much more on the positive. I believe they really wanted to create a truly inspirational prog rock opus that relentlessly dares their listeners to explore new territories. I simply can’t help but think about a frontiersman discovering new land to explore and if I’m the only Tool fan on the planet who feels this way about this song then so be it.

Spiral out my friends.

 

              

This has become quite a lengthy article so I have decided to break it up in three parts. Come back for more especially because I happen to enjoy the later half of the album a lot more. I have a lot to say about the remainder of the album so stay tuned and thanks for reading! 

Lateralus Wikipedia Link :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateralus

Tool Website: http://www.toolband.com/

Lateralus Lyrics Link: https://www.toolband.com/album/lyrics/lateralus.html

Don’t forget that if you want to listen to the album, please, for the love of all that is right and just in the world. Buy the songs or the album.

Album Review: Tool – Lateralus Part 1

AmpersandQuest

 

 When I review albums of music I want to provide as much useful information as possible while also providing my own unique perspective on the album. Below my commentary will be a series of links for more information, lyrics, the band’s website, and a link to purchase the album. Please support the artist you enjoy!

 

 

Tool_-_Lateralus

 

As I said above factual information about this album will be found below so I will spare you the gory details in favor of a more opinionated diatribe that will detail my feelings and interpretations of each song. If you are a big fan of Tool and have followed them for a good length of time you will understand when I say that my interpretation is not a prescription of how you should feel. I realize I haven’t covered a Tool album before and it might seem strange to really hardcore Tool fans out there to start now with Lateralus. My reason for doing so is that while I have become a really big Tool fan and love to know all the little details about them I have to be honest, this wasn’t always the case. My fandom of Tool started with this very album soon after it was released in 2001. I was a freshmen in high school, my parents were just divorced, I was a social outcast, and I turned to music to escape the harsh reality of my existence.

From my experience with all of Tool’s albums it is a blessing that Lateralus is the album that I dove off from first as it seems to be a turning point not only in my life but in the lives of the artist who created the album as they seemed to be in the midst of a spiritual and intellectual awakening. This album is chock full of inspirational themes but they are not fully realized without taking a journey through the cold dark reality of existing in this harsh modern social climate so full of cruelty and despair. Lateralus as an album served me the same purpose The Holy Bible would serve a born again Christian but obviously in a very different way. Take away the overt brainwashing that religion offers and replace it with understanding, acceptance, and enlightenment that the main characters of The Holy Bible were created to represent and you have the album Lateralus.

What we have here then is one young boy’s Rosetta Stone for life. A means by which he would come to understand all of the strange, unique, painful, and beautiful things that were happening to him. All of which seemed to come through the speakers and soak deep into his bones as the stories of the music and lyrics came to be fully realized mythos unto themselves. This album, if you cannot tell by now, means a lot to me. If I were ever able to speak to its creators I would thank them deeply for finding it within themselves to express the glorious truths of nature described in this album and having the conviction to lay the tracks down and sell it to the world without shame.

With that out-of-the-way let us begin the review and remember that the lyrics for each song can be found in a link at the bottom of the page.

Credit: Alex Grey Visit his website to purchase artistic prints at http://www.cosm.org/
Credit: Alex Grey Visit his website to purchase artistic prints at http://www.cosm.org/

              Track #1 -The Grudge – 

Let us not avoid how much this track just flat-out rocks. The instrumental work in this album from the very start is outstanding from beginning to end and the very first track does not disappoint. It leaves you with a very powerful first impression by the nature of the very aggressive kit work from Danny Carey who never seems to let up throughout the entirety of this album. Danny’s drumming prowess is in full force here and beyond. The power chords from guitarist Adam Jones may not be technically brilliant however I would argue that his composition AND his precise technique don’t really leave a lot to be desired, it’s as if he simply plays exactly the right way all the time even if it’s not wailing technical solo’s. If I wanted power metal solo’s there are plenty of artist who provide that. Tool is not that sort of band. I have also always been fond of Justin Chancellors bass work and here it serves its purpose well to seemingly make Danny’s drum set sound even more pronounced and adding just the right amount of contrast to Adam’s guitar playing. Singer Maynard James Keenan gives a very powerful performance as he always seems to do in his own way. Both guttural and operatic weaving in and out of each other in a symphony of powerful and aggressive musical backdrops.

Moving on to what I believe this song’s story is. In life, whether it be an individual, a group of people, an institution, or even yourself you will find adversaries. You will inevitably experience all of the emotions and realities of what it means to have an enemy. People will do things to hurt you, you will be singled out, be treated unfairly, and make mistakes that you will regret. This song is not about that. This song is about the willingness or lack thereof to let go of grudges. It weaves in and out of inspiration and despair as both the music and lyrics spin you round and round but all the while staying focused on the merciful release that is granted to those who learn to let go of those enemies, gangs, politicians, and regrets. While at first the song might seem to be screaming at you out of anger ultimately the point of sale comes when it all culminates in the emotional outburst and release of that anger as both music and singer collide in an epic 32 second long scream urging you to simply LET GO! The lesson here is that there is much more to be gained in life from accepting reality for what it is instead of hanging on to that which ties you down and keeps you in one place and static with your blood boiling and a soul full of regret.  I fully recommend looking deeper into the lyrics of this song because like all of Tool’s songs it could mean something totally different to you. For me, this helped me control my anger and tempered me whenever I felt my emotions could be getting the best of me. It was easy for me to think back to this track and remember how awesome it feels every time I listen to it.

             Track #2 -Eon Blue Apocalypse (Instrumental)- 

I get the sense that this song is full of grief and a great amount of pain.  It is very short and delivers what feels to me to be a “moment of silence” sort of feel. Appropriate because apparently it is an ode of sorts for the passing of guitarist Adam Jones Great Dane whose name was Eon. For me, on a thematic level, it serves as a break between the aggressive opening song and the next. It might be a track that we skip over but from time to time I like to listen to it as I reflect on life.

 

              Track #3 -The Patient-       

The intro to this roller coaster of a song feels lumbering, laborious, tedious, and filled with tension. Perhaps the title of the song is very appropriate here as it seems to feel almost like how one would feel sitting in a doctor’s waiting room as you ponder what the good doctor has to report to you. Even the opening lyrics are dripping with a feeling of restrained exuberance dying for a massive release.  As the next section continues on we are presented with growing animosity as the music gets subtly louder and the lyrics encourage you to open your heart. The meat and potatoes of the song break free as that feeling of having to wait, be quiet, and remain stoic give way to an outburst of conviction and aggressive musical themes.

I think this song can be about anything. For me personally I tend to feel it’s about living in an overly politically correct society where you are not encouraged to express yourself. Quite the opposite is definitely pronounced throughout society. Thus, we all seem to go through periods in life where we lay low, keep a low profile, and become quite apathetic towards others. I believe this song explores the importance of both being silent and introspective and expressing yourself loudly and without shame.

It is important to have a stiff upper lip and soak up the pain at times as in don’t whine and complain too much and actually BE patient. But the desire to reach out, express yourself, include others, and branch out once you’ve healed is a desire that shouldn’t be forsaken.  The reason I said this is a roller coaster of a song is because towards the end the feeling I get is much the same as waiting for the big drop off at the top of a roller coaster at a theme park. Much more appropriate to me now that I mention it would be the feeling of a tight rope walk. That you are constantly walking this fine line between apathy and empathy. That while you want to reach out to others and experience love, compassion, and community there is always a desire to return to solitude. I strongly encourage a deep and focused reading of the lyrics found at the bottom of this review.

 

Track #4 -Mantra-

 

There are a lot of interesting discussions I found online about what this track represents and also how it was recorded. If you’re interested I would definitely encourage you to check Google for the information. However, right now I just want to talk about how the song makes me feel and how it correlates with the rest of the album’s thematic aura.

The listener is graced with a very peaceful yet somehow creepy and dark sound effect. There are a couple of layers to the track to mention. Most notably what sounds like the cry’s of a whale or perhaps monks chanting. Regardless of what the artist actually did to record this track to me it serves as a way to invest the listener to focus on their inner most thoughts. It isn’t long enough to make you forget about the previous track but just long enough to get your attention heading in to the next. Which is one of the most popular songs in Tool’s entire discography so it makes sense that Tool would want people to really pay attention at this point in the album.

 

Track #5 -Schism- 

 

What stands out to me most about this song is that while it is the song they chose to be the radio friendly song of the album it is not by any means your typical arena rock and roll anthem, which I do love by the way, but they somehow managed to create a song of very pressing matters that most people don’t want to talk about and make it a chart topping hit. It’s as if they created something that isn’t supposed to appeal to everyone that by virtue of its own merit managed to soak itself into the world consciousness and took on a very powerful meaning for millions upon millions of people. It is not by any means my most cherished Tool track but I deeply respect it for what it is and what it meant for Tool being absolutely cemented in history as one of rock’s greatest bands. That does not mean this track is not chock full of philosophical importance, indeed it is, but that’s not what impresses me about it. It stands on its own as the Tool song that took music by storm without selling out.

The song itself begins with a bass intro that comes off the heels of the previous track Mantra and fits so damn well with the feeling of Mantra. The focus and attention I get from listening to Mantra is not at all broken by this intro but enhanced. The intro drones for a moment as the main bass riff that’s become so recognizable begins to enter your consciousness. Followed by Danny’s powerful drumming and Maynard’s timeless lyrics unfold before you. Musically to me this song is not the most impressive of all of Tool’s efforts but it is by no means forgettable either. Mostly because of how pressing the issues discussed in the lyrics are. To me that is where the strength of this song stands.

There is no way to view this song in a one-dimensional manner. It is about you, me, and everyone else. It is about our institutions or lack thereof. But what is the song saying about them? Personally I think the entire point of the song is that we do everything we can to promote certain ideals and convictions but fail to recognize how those seemingly virtuous and inspiring intentions also create division, animosity, hatred, bigotry, and ignorance.  It is amazing to me how our greatest intentions can give birth to such tragic failings in human kind. As the song says, you can realize that all the pieces fit but only because you watched them crumble, fail, and burn to the ground. While the song definitely encourages all of us to strive for good things in life it doesn’t bury its head in the sand when it comes to how those good things are often born from human suffering.

Perhaps this song was so successful because it’s over all message is that no matter how strong our convictions, family ties, friendships, and relationships are they will never be perfect. Everyone can relate to this message and appreciate the compassionate message it has. It doesn’t attempt to paint a pie in the sky image of the human condition but instead is honest with the listener. I am very glad this song became as popular as it did for it provided an outlet for all the animosity in the world. Also, it gives people the chance to understand just how connected we all are in the human condition and encourages us to come together in a common goal. Not in any communist hippie dippy sense but in a realistic realization that we all experience this schism in our interactions with others. We are all our own individual with our own belief structures but ultimately they are all born from a very similar place where we desire the best outcomes for not just ourselves but those around us. It is then by its very nature a message of peace and understanding. It’s not saying to tolerate bad behavior for the sake of tolerance either, rather, reaches out for us to recognize how bad behavior manifest from otherwise harmless and good intent. What a fascinating example of how music can change the world.

This has become quite a lengthy article so I have decided to break it up in three parts. Come back for more especially because I happen to enjoy the later half of the album a lot more. I have a lot to say about the remainder of the album so stay tuned and thanks for reading! 

Lateralus Wikipedia Link : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateralus

Tool Website: http://www.toolband.com/

Lateralus Lyrics Link: https://www.toolband.com/album/lyrics/lateralus.html

Don’t forget that if you want to listen to the album, please, for the love of all that is right and just in the world. Buy the songs or the album.

Try With All Your Might. Rock and Roll Will Not Die!

AmpersandQuest

 

 

If you have been following the #GamerGate hashtag online over the last two months you are probably familiar with both sides of the argument. Breifly, one side believes video games promote misogyny, violence, bigotry, and need to be changed and censored. The opposing view-point see’s video games in a much different light and believe they are forms of art that should not be censored by any means and offer a way to experience difficult human conditions without actually bringing harm to others. I find myself on the latter side but not just with video games. While #GamerGate might be the strategic front for now to criticize the views of a group known as “Social Justice Warriors” (SJW’s for short) it has come to my attention more than once that my favorite genre of music will definitely come under their harsh, unfair, biased, and unrealistic criticism. I will not sit idly by while they try to tear my favorite form of music expression to pieces and attempt to make it more politically correct. Rock and roll has faced this over and over again over the years and I for one believe it will survive the onslaught. 

 

elvis-presley-dancing-thesuiteworld

 

 The following is taken from Wikipedia. 

      “The second Milton Berle Show appearance came on June 5 at NBC’s Hollywood studio, amid another hectic tour. Berle persuaded the singer to leave his guitar backstage, advising, “Let ’em see you, son.”[104] During the performance, Presley abruptly halted an uptempo rendition of “Hound Dog” with a wave of his arm and launched into a slow, grinding version accentuated with energetic, exaggerated body movements.[104] Presley’s gyrations created a storm of controversy.[105] Television critics were outraged: Jack Gould of The New York Times wrote, “Mr. Presley has no discernible singing ability. … His phrasing, if it can be called that, consists of the stereotyped variations that go with a beginner’s aria in a bathtub. … His one specialty is an accented movement of the body … primarily identified with the repertoire of the blond bombshells of the burlesque runway.”[106] Ben Gross of the New York Daily News opined that popular music “has reached its lowest depths in the ‘grunt and groin’ antics of one Elvis Presley. … Elvis, who rotates his pelvis … gave an exhibition that was suggestive and vulgar, tinged with the kind of animalism that should be confined to dives and bordellos”.[107] Ed Sullivan, whose own variety show was the nation’s most popular, declared him “unfit for family viewing”.[108] To Presley’s displeasure, he soon found himself being referred to as “Elvis the Pelvis”, which he called “one of the most childish expressions I ever heard, comin’ from an adult.”[109]

 

    Elvis Presley may not be the most rock and roll of rock and roll however this famous example really highlights the points I will be making later on in the article. Please consider the ramifications and consequences if we listen to the same kind of concern, baiting, immaturity, and baseless accusations of the modern-day political correctness brigade infamously known now as Social Justice Warriors. 

mastodon-once-more-round-the-sun

 

                         The following is taken from Loudwire.com

  •       http://loudwire.com/mastodon-brann-dailor-defends-twerk-heavy-the-motherload-video-sexist-allegations/

       “Ladies and gentlemen, there’s just no escaping from the phenomenon known as twerking. Even Mastodon took a tongue-in-cheek approach to rippling glutes in their new video for ‘The Motherload.’ In a new interview with Mastodon drummer / vocalist Brann Dailor, the musician explains the concept behind the video and addresses the sexist criticism that videos featuring twerking receive.”

               It will be tempting to dismiss the comparison by pointing out that the criticisms of Elvis came from a different time and that Mastadon’s criticism is that of female dancers being sexually objectified. To me however these observations only serve to highlight how much more ridiculous, immature, and biased it is to criticize women on 2014 the same way people criticized Elvis in 1957. In both cases I have to wonder what in the world are these people so afraid of? Is society at large so easily offended and afraid of sexuality that even dance moves send them in a fluttering tizzy of emotional weakness? If men and women are equal then why is it offensive for one to shake their hips and not the other? 

               If my love of the rock and roll/metal genre has taught me anything it’s that nothing is off-limits. The main reason I love it so much is that it constantly pushes the envelope and the artist involved are constantly exploring hot button issues in order to provoke a reaction that raises eye brows and hopefully gets people to think twice about their preconceived notions.  I admit that I am not the biggest fan of Mastadon nor do I find the video particularly interesting save for the parody of early 90’s heavy metal music videos which I find a bit humorous. That does not grant me a right to even attempt to censor them, tell them they are sexist, and try to tear them down in any way. Sure, you have all the right in the world to make such criticism but in doing so you open yourself up to retort. My retort is that you are simply being entirely too sensitive. The girls in this video are not forced to dance in front of the camera in provocative ways. In fact, I think it’s rather demeaning of you to label them as victims when in fact they have found a job they enjoy doing. Who are you to pass judgement on them? 

                          What would have happened to the music industry if we as a society would have taken such accusatory, baseless, and immature criticisms to heart? Would Elvis Presley have gone on to set the world on fire with his provocative style? It is my opinion that if we do not stand up to the political correctness brigades of the world that we will end up in a joyless ride where you have to constantly watch what you say, enjoy, do, listen to, watch, or are otherwise entertained by. It is exactly this kind of blatant censorship which I fear most and would simply refuse to live and put up with. Rock and Roll/Metal music serves a very important purpose in this department. The more PC is pushed, the harder these bands should rock out. The more they are labeled and blamed for societies problems the more provocative the lyrics should become until finally something gives and the PC Nazi’s of the world grow up and realize the jokes on them and give up on their ridiculous quest to Nerf the world. 

There are even more examples of rock music coming under fire and being blamed for ills in the world (I will provide more below). It seems that every time something bad happens in the world we will quickly divert responsibility away from the perpetrator and on to the kind of music they enjoyed, games they played, books they read, or movies they watched. Why? It’s a simple question that the SJW movement wants to answer by saying things like, “Just because you don’t think you’re affected by media doesn’t mean you aren’t. In fact, it probably means you are the most affected.” Anita Sarkeesian said something very similar to this in one of her Tropes vs Women videos and I have to demand actual proof of this baseless accusation. I am defending rock music here because for me it has served as a very healthy outlet and allowed me to explore the darker half of my psyche without actually having to express it and take it out on others. This art form doesn’t just explore the dark but very creatively creates a light at the end of a very difficult tunnel for millions of fans world-wide. To imagine anyone trying to take this away by failing to make a valid criticism of it just because they are too sensitive to understand what rock and roll/metal is all about is beyond asinine. To these people I recommend just turning off and avoiding media that makes you feel so mad and sensitive. The rest of us are just fine and aren’t out to hurt you. Leave us alone and stop trying to ruin OUR fun and OUR hobbies.   

 

 

List of Society Blaming Rock for Violence

  • The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter” & Manson Family Murders
  • Ozzy Osbourne’s “Suicide Solution” & Teen Suicide
  • Judas Priest’s “Better by You, Better Than Me” & Suicide Pact
  • AC/DC’s “Night Prowler” & Serial Killer Richard Ramirez
  • Marilyn Manson & Columbine’s killers

                        I advise my readers to do google searches of this list and would ask that you consider the consequences of demanding artist censor themselves just because bad things happen in the world. What sort of legacy will we leave behind if we are the generation that chose to leave behind the tradition of free expression? Do you really want to be remembered in history for going along with an ideology that demands you not explore yourself through the safety of art? Is there any good reason why we should close our minds, hide our eyes, and close our ears every time someone creates something that offends our sensibilities? My accusation of you if you have already is that you are of a weak mind and speaking from a place of fear and ignorance. Your message is not the only one that needs be heard and understood. So while you are free to criticize all you want it really stops there if you are unwilling to go and create your own art, messages, and content for others with a like mind to enjoy. If you simply refuse to put in the effort to create and build an audience then I’m afraid your complaints fall on deaf ears because all you’re ultimately doing is complaining constantly that the creative people of the world didn’t make something that pleases your every last desire. 

 

ROCK AND ROLL WILL NOT DIE AND I HOPE IT ROCKS YOU OUT OF YOUR SOCKS! 

Gamer Gate and the Bigger Picture of Political Correctness.

AmpersandQuest

 

It’s been almost a month now since the gaming community found itself in a steaming pile of a controversy surrounding the actions and behaviors of certain elements in the community. There are several hands at play in this on going situation but that is not what I am going to write about here. If you need to know the details about Gamer Gate I recommend you click on the link below this paragraph before continuing on. The video will talk about a lot of things and if you want to know more than what is provided in this video make sure to take notes from the video and search Google for your answers. My goal here is not to cover the specifics but rather the larger implications that are beyond the gaming industry itself.

Mundane Matt from YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UwkdxlyRt0

Just to provide a brief description of Gamer Gate let us discuss the two opposing sides to the controversy. One side identifies as “Gamers” and the other side claims that “Gamers” are dead. The side that claims “Gamers” are dead have been labeled as Social Justice Warriors and seem to be less interested in video games as they are in supposed equality and inclusiveness. They have accused “Gamers” as being misogynist, bigots, privileged white males, and worse. Gamers have of course objected to this but it has been building up for a quite some time now. So if I’m not going to talk about all the details then why am I writing about it? The answer is in the next paragraph.

Whether its video games, movies, tv shows, music, or sports it seems to me that there is a growing amount of concern to be more politically correct in every entertainment or sporting industry there is. This is not by any means a new phenomenon, however, in 2014 it seems people have had enough and I count myself among those who feel this PC era of entertainment has got to end. If you support political correctness I don’t necessarily have any gripe with you on an individual level, however, when it comes to freedom of expression and the sharing of controversial ideas that you may find offensive I cannot help but become critical of your views on the matter.

I grew up believing that people’s opinions and views mattered. I’ve always believed and still do that even if those opinions are grossly out-of-bounds with what I can agree with that I shouldn’t be allowed to censor them. There is a very important reason I believe this and it feels like society is losing touch with that reason as each year passes on. That reason is that of objective comparison and contrast with one another. If we as a society cannot hear the down right horrible views of some and attempt to wipe it all from the historical record then what kind of legacy will we leave behind? Not only that, what kind of chance will future generations have of knowing what was and is acceptable behavior? What sort of context will we be able to provide if we attempt to censor those opinions of which we fully disagree with and oppose?

Silence is not an option and that of course is not what I am attempting to push here. Rather, the ability to listen and let sink in the opinions and world views of those we oppose and speaking out against them. That is what is at stake here. Are we to strive for a 1984 like totalitarian society where we simply wipe the history slate clean when it does not fit with our narrative? Are we to just forget about all the horrible things people have done to one another in a vain attempt to feel better about ourselves as a people? Whether or not you actually support these horrible things in the long history of society is irrelevant to the matter of allowing them to be known, studied, and explored.

If we are so weak as a people now that we cannot even allow ourselves to see the dark side of humanity then I am afraid we are doomed to not just repeat those mistakes but create even greater atrocities by virtue of plain ignorance and cowardice. Political correctness in my opinion is merely censorship with a pretty name. It is a means by which to silence dissent against one’s narrative. Whether or not that narrative is actually healthy and true is not the point, allowing people to ask questions and disagree with that narrative is. I have to ask myself, at some point, are we going to send people to prison when they simply hurt someone’s feelings in the future?

There are little situations less frightening to me than to live in a society to afraid to have a civil dialogue about important issues. It is easy to point at the trolls, haters, and bullies of the world and pass all their aggression on to those who differ in opinion to you but I believe that is the crux of the problem here. Instead of taking the easy route why not instead take on the challenge of real debate.  Why are so many people so terrified of the possibility of being half wrong that they’ll do just about anything to avoid a realistic conversation in which a common goal can be ascertained? Personally, I have trouble looking in the mirror too, but, it doesn’t stop me from actually participating in a discussion where I might have to admit when I’m incorrect and change my mind on specific things I’ve said or done.  The one thing I don’t do, at least I try my best not to, is trying to paint my opposition as simply being trolls. I don’t claim to be a victim of harassment just because someone or several people call me out for being an idiot. Maybe it’s because I work in an industry where it is a daily ritual to have to face facts and get actually harassed by cranky people. I must have developed a thick skin.

In conclusion to these thoughts I want to leave you with some food for thought. I am a huge fan of rock and roll and metal. Other than the music the one thing I love most about that culture is the freedom of expression involved in it. The whole purpose of rock music is to represent a passion that exist in the human spirit to live life to the fullest. That does not entail always being inspirational and happy with life. It does mean looking at both sides of the coin and realizing that maybe life isn’t completely black and white. Rock music fully explores both the good and the evil of the human condition and does so without considering who might get their feelings hurt. Some of my favorite artist have publicly stated that the last thing they would ever do is listen to their fans when writing new material. I really like that. It says to me they care more about honesty and integrity than they do about pleasing everyone. They didn’t acquire their fame and fortune by simply being nice to everyone and bowing down to their every single whim. They got there by being extremely talented, having a relevant message to send, and by delivering it in very awesome and unique ways. To realize now that there is a huge group of people who actually oppose such things disgust me to no end and I simply will not stand for it. Critique is one thing. Attempting to censor is quite another.

 

 

The House of Cards Show (Spoiler Free Review)

House of Cards Logo Captured from URL http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fc/House_of_Cards_logo.svg for review purposes only. The use of this image is for subjective review only.

 

 

I’ve been watching the first few episodes of House of Cards on Netflix so much like everyone else I get my entertainment online these days. Which to me is an improvement for all of society. House of Cards to me represents quite a few things going on in the minds of the artist, writhers, directors, and actors involved with the project but also attitudes on a wider range. There is always something to keep in mind when it comes to information gathered through subjective entertainment sources however some valid points can be raised through this medium as well. It all depends on which perspective you are choosing to represent.   The problem with entertainment is that often it is the drama that drives us to continue watching, reading, or looking on like child at the stars through a window seal. This is the purpose of entertainment after all. However, my point is that this also causes a problem for not only ourselves as individuals but on a large societal scale millions of people sit in front of a box for 5 or more hours a day and soak in all kinds of information.

 

Some of it very beneficial and good information, a lot of it however is quite disturbing. That is until you discover that the best news typically is a result of a bad situation. Solutions my friends are those bits of good news you get in your daily routine. Whether by a dumb stroke of hair-brained luck or by competent execution of a disciplined plan of action each of us are capable of bringing good news to the world but many of us choose, myself included, to ignore the faults going on around us and do nothing to fix them and instead replace the positive feelings that come with victory or from hard work paying off with the delusions of reality that often find their way through the various mediums of information transfer technology like television, the internet, radio, newspapers, and even word of mouth.   Enter House of Cards, a Netflix original series featuring an all star cast of actors, writers, directors, and film makers alike. It is very well written and features quite a controversial narrative, that is if you’re what some of my friends call a “Hipster Puritan” who believes that government and only government can bring peace to the world. House of Cards presents us with a crack team of dirty politicians who do quite impressively and competently deal with the matters of the day.

 

That is by deliberately misleading those around them, coercing those same people into dangerous situations, and murdering those who find out about the skeletons in their closets. Oh the feeling of poetic justice in this series is just to die for. All of those ideas are challenged at their very core bringing to my mind a very important question. What is Government?   I already know there is such a thing as an ideal Government, we all have a notion that some how or some way that this entity we have chosen to name Government will lead the world to a more peaceful path than that which we are on. That is, until you realize the true cost of putting forth any such ideas in a serious manner. The point of my statement is to point out a flaw in the system. It is quite a simple flaw upon first review until you realize the magnitude and scale of this problem and that this problem doesn’t really have big stone buildings or politicians holding it up. Government is human incompetence. We all know how messed up we are sometimes, even if we don’t intend to be, we make horrible and stupid mistakes all the time.

 

There is no preparing for stupidity or incompetence except by preparing for it which means you must always be aware of your flaws. You must remove your ego from the equation all together and realize how important and impact filled your actions really are. In doing so you are already putting yourself and others at less risk to create an excuse for Government to intervene and ruin your lives.   People who realize this early on typically are in no position to do any real damage to those who have decided long ago that they are going to rule by brute force, lies, and coercion thus acquiring great amounts of wealth, military might, connections with influential people in society who band together and form pacts, friendships, enemies, and economics systems. You have no hope to beat that system on your own. When faced with an adversary this powerful you don’t want to find yourself battling them on their home court unless you are sure you have more of an edge than they could ever hope for. Which for most of us is never going to happen. To imagine that any of you could compete with this level of intelligence gathering, police training, military might, and sophistication is ludicrous at best.  To those of you who happen to read this who do have a good measure of resources, connections, and have a definitive plan of where you are going in life please understand this one thing.   Knowing how messed up the average person is and knowing that more than half of those people are even way more messed up with different disorders, chemical poisoning, poor diets, poor education, poor to no living standards or direction in life. After knowing all that can you not see that resorting to the same tactics as an ignorant street criminal with a total lack of respect for human life that will make your stomach toil and keep you up at night.

 

Having power over others due to your lack of honor, decency, and virtue is nothing short of a tragedy. Stooping to the same levels of those you oppose simply to be right and remain in power to me shows the only power you really have. It is your greatest weapon against those who would oppose you. Fear.   House of Cards on Netflix shows us in very entertaining fashion just how chaotic and grim life as a politician or influential person really could be in real life. Let’s not get all Plato’s Cave here and discuss whether or not a shadow is just a false copy of the real thing or anything. I’m simply pointing out why I adore this show in particular. It lies to you, but in a way that let’s you know it’s all a lie. Which is the true brilliance of the whole show! The system, the politicians, the people involved in Washington D.C. are just as flawed, egotistical, and as dangerous if not more dangerous than common people or criminals.   The phrase “poetic justice” is done a great service in this series. As tables are constantly turned against your ideologies and then suddenly your ideas are the basis of a bold and successful new idea that works for everyone in the end. This show takes you on a roller coaster ride of political intrigue and often feels like an old gumshoe thriller as you attempt to piece together everyone’s motives and intentions throughout the narrative. It really does inspire one to think directly outside the box when it comes to politics. The status quo must  both tested and made to be necessary at times and House of Cards does just that and it is stupendous!

Pinnaclism

Ampersand Daily2

Pinnaclism is my idea of looking at the vastly superior ideas from any given political or social movement and combining them under one umbrella. When those ideas compete with one another, we should lean towards the more ideal conditions and compromise those ideas which are not in our best interest by accepting the faults of that idea and allowing new and innovative ideas to take their place. This will require a high degree of intellectual honesty and also the ability to let go of preconceived notions once it has become apparent that one idea is inferior to the other.

This is a new term that I have come up with and in my opinion is the only solution to an authoritarian state where violence is deemed required to spread ideology. Pinnaclism still allows freedom of expression, thought, and allows us all to have our positions without the threat of violence. However once put to the test on the market or public arena and adjusting to the reality of the situation, it will become necessary to allow the winning idea to flourish . This requires a very active participation from individuals on a personal basis where we all seek to improve ourselves one step and one day at a time. Where problems exist, people must bring their ideas to the table, even if faulty, it will create a ground by which another can apply the benefit of hindsight and fill in the gaps. This process should repeat until ultimately the economic or social situation is solved to the satisfaction of those individuals involved.

This can be done on a large-scale without coercion or violence though I believe in and still  see the need for very strong defensive violence as detractors from this idea will preemptively strike and lash out at those of us trying to make improvements to our world. That said, through the use of ideologies such as voluntary free trade and association, charities, and many other economic and social options available to all of us at any given moment, we can avoid unwarranted violence more often than not. As a result violence will become less of a problem as time pushes forward. Actions taken by individuals that threaten the existence of others must be met with cold intelligence and brute force. Once on display, parties involved are open to public scrutiny and free press where the violence and coercion are observed in a very public way. If two individuals or collective of individuals seek war with another or among themselves they would be immediately held accountable by social and market forces which seek to render their aggression obsolete by providing similar and superior results that should persuade more people than not to both hold up private agreements and share among each other without the use of violence.

Perhaps in this way, we can eventually find the root causes of aggressive authority in our world and in the interest of the survival of our species dig and cut those roots once and for all, ridding ourselves of an evolutionary weakness and replace it with genuine authority who would have all the resources and reasons available to them to sustain a peaceful social order. I ask you the reader to understand that this does not mean pacifism. In all actuality it means this new social order has the ability to render unjustified violence completely and totally obsolete by having the resources to do so constantly being upgraded through voluntary free trade which will always seek to protect itself from outside illegitimate threats of violence on itself and those who benefit from it.

Try to imagine the possibilities and corrections you can make to my idea and run with it to the next person who works with you peacefully to create new realities, the idea is to allow this process to continue and grow into a new society based on real information and the accepting of new proposals in order to reach a peaceful end to all situations. For the overwhelming majority of time violence will not be necessary and as a result new innovations will only arise faster and better as time pushes forward uninterrupted by those among us who do not have the strength and peace of mind to build and maintain a society we can all enjoy and benefit from. In that case, it will not be an unfortunate turn of events to see these overly aggressive authoritarian forces eliminated from the scene and will also allow new innovations in dealing with these forces more and more peacefully with each passing year. Imagine being able to stop a killer without killing them and simultaneously benefiting from their labor and rehabilitating them and their would be victims to allow a much more prosperous situation to occur. The outright hedonist will not be able to bring about their anarchy on the backs of every living soul of which they would take pleasure in harming, rather, every living soul has an opportunity to present the hedonist with a choice. Responsible freedom or seclusion from freedom. 

I strongly desire all forms of criticism for this article. Whether you completely hate, moderately hate, moderately love, or completely love what I’ve put forward please leave a comment below. This is not meant to be a populist movement by any means, it is a means to an end that discourages such action but rather is an open door to any and all dissent and acceptance. That being said, both dissent and acceptance of this idea taken to extremities that result in massive demonstrations that seek to harm other’s interest will not be tolerated by myself. My goal isn’t to create a monster.  I want this to become the absolute most ideal way of looking at the world so it will require myself at times to be corrected and I completely accept that responsibility. So, if you believe you can improve or even disprove these ideas please do not be shy. It will only strengthen the idea either way and as a label it will survive any and all adjustments to the philosophy as it is meant to consistently be improved upon.

Being Right When the Status Quo is Wrong

Ampersand Daily2

I suppose most people would label me with titles like Libertarian, Anarchist, Independent, or even simply a lunatic. However, I’ve come to discover that there has never been or ever will there be a single word anyone could use to describe me. So when reading the title of this post, please do not assume things about me without first considering the content of the entire article and message I am attempting to convey to the world in this little corner of the internet.

I want to take you back on a journey of about 50 years. For those of you who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s may recall standing up to the government on many many issues. Civil Rights, The Vietnam War, Watergate, JFK, MLK, Kent State, and other people and events that helped shape this period in American History all happened because of one centrally planned and organized cartel of men and women who apparently, we have granted the authority to write rules down on pieces of paper, and enforce those rules through a fully armed and trained military/police forces. I often wonder, what was it that caused all of these people to stand up to the government? What sparked the notion that no one has the right to use force against others to get them to behave a certain way? Perhaps a more relevant question pertaining to this is, what happened to that spark? Why did millions of people lock arms in protest and defeat authoritarians hand over fist back then? Yet today, even suggesting you should do such a thing ensures you to be compartmentalized into a box with a label on it that says “Conspiracy Theorist Nut Job”. Curious question is it not?

Even myself, an individual who is happy to question the reality around me, finds myself speechless when I should be speaking up. I know there is no good justification for this and that it is morally wrong, yet, more often than not I simply stand there, knowing things aren’t right and feel trapped by my own fear and insecurity. I think this largely has to do with the majority of people who simply want to live their life oblivious to the ill’s of the world and vicariously through the portrayals of heroes in Hollywood movies. While I too live in a blissful manner and watch movies and enjoy the tales being told, I think I at least do manage to provide some thought-provoking and challenging ideas to those around me. I at least attempt to help push along this idea that humanity should be free of force and coercion and that some day, this kind of revolution will take place.

The thrust of this article is to point out the few human beings through history who have taken a much stronger stance against authoritarian ideologies and made great and even the ultimate sacrifices in doing so. I find that whether or not I agree with all of these people politically, I can at least understand them, and even appreciate their bravery in taking a stand for what they feel was right. I am going to refrain from providing specific examples to avoid making you think I believe in one thing or another and also because if you’re reading this, you probably have a really good idea of the people I am referring to. Instead, this is just to point out that when you take a stand against an aggressive authoritarian, often, you will have to give up much of your life or even be killed for doing so.

When the entire world bows down to a single ideology and believes that forcing everyone else to adhere to that idea is justified, it is considered a rebellious and dangerous act. While that may be true, I think it’s important to point out that the danger is not coming from the protester, the violence isn’t being forced upon the authoritarian, but rather the authoritarian is using force to ensure 100% loyalty and adherence to his or her rules. Rebelling against this dangerous ideology is not an act of terror as the majority of society will probably tell you, it is an action made once one realizes the only way to really be free is to challenge that forced unity and collective blind support. History is riddled with these figures that rise up against the authority of the time and end up in horrible situations just because they had a different idea of how human beings should live among one another. Ask yourselves, how highly can you really think about any political ideology that must force those who disagree into compliance? If it’s that great of an idea, shouldn’t persuasion be enough? I understand that when it actually is a good idea and a rebel uses violence to get their way that defensive violence is necessary. That however, is not what I’m attempting to convey to you.

I think a good example is Marijuana users. If they inhale the smoke from Marijuana when it’s illegal they will be thrown into a cage, violently. Yet, there hasn’t ever been a significant case where someone has over dosed due to the use of the drug nor has the simple act of indulging in the smoking of Marijuana ever produced a victim. Have people made poor decisions as result of Marijuana, probably, but that shouldn’t muddle the entire culture and market place surrounding the drug. Yet, if you dare even try it once and get caught, you and all your friends will end up in jail and with a horrible drug charge on your records. The government may even kill you if the police who are used to enforce the laws upon you are trigger happy psychopaths as we all to often see in the news any more.

When you know you are right about something that contradicts the status quo of government, your life becomes a danger to any authority who thrives of the laws you are breaking, even if those laws are totally unjustified. People have been beaten, jailed, or even killed for doing things that produced no theft, violence against others, or property damage. There are laws, it seems, simply for the sake of having laws at times and I find this to be a tragic situation where the powerful and wealthy benefit from their dominance over the rest of humanity, almost as if they simply enjoy controlling others with their police forces. Almost as if they get a sense of joy from it. This should be alarming to people out there, but I fear apathy greatly outweighs any justifiable concern people may have as most people simply want to be left alone.

There is a song by Rush that I believe outlines what I’m on about here called Closer to the Heart. Give it a listen and read the lyrics while you listen to it. It may do a better job trying to convey the message I’m trying to type out here for you and if so, then great. I hope to help others come to this message in any way I can other than force and coercion. I want to be the opposite of that and I think most people actually feel this way deep down. Seeing the way people are treated for actually acting on this practically though, it is understandable why people’s apathy mostly outweighs any desire to make a real positive change in the world. This however needs to erode as time pushes forward and the next generation comes up. Ask yourself, when will this world of ours stop bombing the crap out of each other? When will this world of ours see a superior level of peace and prosperity that the world has never enjoyed before? I have this belief that this is inevitable but also that if we don’t approach it with the proper line of sight, the cost of this happening will almost be far to great to consider. The choice is yours.

Thank you for the read!

Scott D. Vogler

Music Review: Kyuss Blues for the Kyuss Fan; Devil’s Advocate (Part 2 of 3)

I have thought about this particular case a lot since it’s happened. I know one of the reasons why is because I just absolutely love Kyuss’ music. Anything that tarnishes the awesome music they produced makes me feel a bit angry at those responsible and I have an emotional reaction to it. This part of the 3 part article is to install a sense of contrast. Perhaps I am wrong for feeling the way I do in some ways and I believe in challenging yourself in order to understand yourself better. To know why you feel the way you feel and to learn whether or not your initial reaction to a situation is a factually correct reaction to have. This case, as a whole, provides a lot of very important lessons one can use in other areas of life and for that reason, I chose to go into great detail and write a blog entry about the case in order to both share the story and also hopefully grow my understanding of ideas like “intellectual property”.

When this case first hit the web, my initial reaction was to throw my anger towards Josh Homme and Scott Reeder. That anger has the potential to be misappropriated because as Josh and Scott point out, Brandt and John filed papers as well, to claim ownership over the name sake Kyuss. This goes against my idea of intellectual property as well so why should I just be angry with Josh and Scott? After thinking about this further I’ve discovered I now feel quite differently about everything that happened. I find myself dividing that initial frustration unto Brandt and John as well. Why do they all believe that they should own Kyuss? Don’t they remember the excitement that came with writing and performing those songs? Has their successes and failures in life lead them to forget what it was like to be a fan of your favorite rock and roll band? Is it no longer about the fun, joy, and challenge of creating something special with their given talents in order to embrace the cold confines of financial security and ownership of ideas? Looking at the picture below, it makes me realize that at one time all these guys were friends, band mates, and colleagues. Somewhere along the line, something must have happened between them that lead to all this. That said, maybe, just maybe, something else can happen to lead to another fully fleshed out Kyuss project down the road. Though I’m not getting my hopes up.

Perhaps then there is an alternative way for someone like myself to view such a tragic situation such as this. I don’t have to like that Kyuss is no longer going to ever exist or perform any of their classics or create anything new for audiences to enjoy and pay for. It’s all about the money to all of these men when it comes to Kyuss it seems. Though I did appreciate being able to see Kyuss Lives! for the last time and I appreciate the effort of continuing Kyuss by Brandt and John I find I must place some blame on them as well for not trying to work harder with Josh and Scott on finding a private resolution to this situation. While I still disagree with Josh and Scott’s lawsuit, I can say now that I understand why they did what they did. I just wish everyone involved could have found an agreement and not ruined one of the greatest unknown 90’s hidden gem of a band that has inspired me for quite a long time now.

What’s done is done however, the past is the past for a reason. From here on, I will find myself enjoying Kyuss for the epic band they were, the songs for the classics they are, and also all of these musicians career’s as they continue to write their stories with Vista Chino and Queens of the Stoneage.  I must admit though that my frustration with Josh and Scott lead me to pre-maturely boycott the release of Queens of the Stoneage’s …Like Clockwork. Perhaps it is time for me to let the past be the past and press play on the present so that I can enjoy what I know will be a quality effort from Josh Homme with Queens of the Stoneage.

So, at the end of my frustration with this story, I find myself fine with the squabble between the former band mates. I see now that it is their failure to find an agreement that lead to this situation, not that my ideals are failed. I keep thinking back to Wizards of the Coast and their Dungeons and Dragons character. They must have heard about this story by now and still, no news of a major lawsuit against any one of the former members of Kyuss for reaping the rewards of being in a band with the name of a character which they indeed created for their monetary interest. Perhaps then there still are good people who just love to have a good time, share ideas freely, and let each other benefit from one another without putting up barriers and walls to divide ourselves from one another. The Devil’s Advocate has failed to persuade me that I had everything all wrong. That I should just forget about my principles, that the right things happened here, and that I am just being too critical or overly sensitive. Obviously, music and art mean much more to me than the average person. These things have an obvious and much welcome impact on my life and I am not ashamed to admit that. That is why I cared so much about this case.

Now that I feel I’ve explained this as much as I possibly could in two parts, it is time to do the review of the album. The next part of this series is going to focus specifically and only on the album Blues for the Red Sun by Kyuss. There will but no mention of any of this behind the scenes drama and will be strictly about the albums qualities and why I love it so much. I hope that by the time you read this article in full you would have already listened to the entire album and understand why it is a tragedy that Kyuss can no longer exist no matter what anyone says or thinks or feels.

And now, Blues for the Red Sun

Please come back for the 3rd and final installment!