First of all let me say I could not have written this review with out 14 years of listening to and analyzing this album and band. I am not arrogant, but I doubt anyone could have. This album, if listened to correctly, can change the face of all humanity for the better. We must evolve past the status quo and expectations of society, politics and religion and become something far better than what we have been. I do not find human life as some great mystery in the universe, but find us quite ordinary and boring. We must evolve. This is the key to or survival. We destroy each other on a daily basis; not only with war and violence, but with biased opinion and ignorance and we must open our eyes to the truth that most of us are wrong in our beliefs. This is the key.
I am no fanatic as some would believe and I do not worship Tool, Maynard or any man or god. I do have a great respect for them and we have a great deal in common. I have come to know the truths in this album only after a great deal of skepticism of it and I have never followed anything blindly. On to a path of my journey......
Having been more than just an avid Tool fan since I was was 15 or so and their second album "Undertow" already being my favorite album, I was more than eager and ecstatic to hear the 1997 release of Tool's third highly anticipated album "ÆNIMA". I was an angry kid and the angst and seriousness that "Undertow" and the first album "Opiate" had conveyed and expressed so beautifully was an escape for me; a portal to a world where someone understood how I felt and to place where someone was not just angry and frustrated, but reasonable, logical and pragmatic at the same time. It was a place I could go to help me believe and have faith that there were others out there just like me that had the same mind, the same consciousness and the same hope that I could be better than I was through determination and an iron will. It taught me at a young age that only through learning and teaching myself as much as I could, could I become better than I was and in turn feel better about myself and make fewer mistakes in life by being well prepared and informed.
I heard "Undertow" in 1993 and I was more than content with the album, but I had always knew that they had better in them. I knew that they were exceptional people who wrote exceptional music and that the two previous albums were flawed gems waiting to be polished into perfect jewel's. On October 1st of 1996 Tool released their third (second full length) album called "ÆNIMA" and it changed the face of music in my eyes forever. I had found the one thing I needed that I had no idea could exist and it changed how I would view life in general forever.
It has been said that the name of the album is a mix between two words. One is 'anima'; which, is Latin for 'soul' or what some would consider a "life stream" or "life force" like the concept in Final Fantasy 7's "life stream" where when we die all of our souls come together as one to create energy. The second is the word 'enema' which of course the medical term for anal cleansing, but the overall idea and expression of the album was the cleansing of the soul and/or mind. It is also a term to express how in order to understand the album as a whole in its mathematical and symbolistic complexity one needs to attain a heightened awareness and understanding, but yet all the while helping you to gain what you need to understand. Solution.
As with any Tool album it expressed a lot of anger and frustration and although this album seem to be the most angry of all it had an underlying message of hope that we can better ourselves and relieve our ignorance through mental, emotional and spiritual evolution by looking into ourselves and having a sort of an enlightenment or illumination. By knowing ourselves truly and thoroughly we can waste less time processing information and come to a definitive and logical answer without letting unnecessary emotional barriers effect the conclusion. In this album sometimes the message is hidden and metaphorical, but to me it made me try harder to understand and the best path to me is the hardest earned. Makes for a true understanding.
Musically this album was incredibly evolved. The first bands I compared it to when I first listened to it were Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Rush all of which were pioneers of their genre, taking musical skill to a whole other level mathematically, harmonically and melodically. The previous albums were great of course, but it was "Aenima" that showed the world what they could do. This album had several very long songs with the longest "My Third Eye" being 13 minutes and 47 seconds and still never a boring moment leading you on a journey the whole time making you forget that time exists.
Songs and my interpretations:
This song starts the album off with a cool smooth flowing guitar lead in that sets the rhythym for the whole song. Many have mistaken this song is about anal fisting and it couldn't come anywhere near the truth. It as about drug addiction and the battle that addicts put themselves through and yet they want it and need it and love it. It is about hurting yourself to the point of numbness and finally it is all you see and know. It can be compared to a person in an abusive relationship who has always been abused and it is all they know and they wouldn't know how to live with out it. It is about trusting the thing that hurts you the most.
Of course the christians are automatically pissed of at this song if they don't listen to what he is saying. Here Maynard speaks of a person who spends their life preaching to everyone about what they are doing wrong and yet all the while they are the worst one of all. These people tend to say that their devotion and love is concrete enough to martyr themselves for people and yet when it comes that time to die or suffer their stories change and excuses start to flow. But the underlying meaning here is about Maynards step father who professed his love and goodness to his mother and him all the while raping and molesting Maynard. It is a about hypocrites in general.
This is a song Maynard doesn't play much live because it is a horrible reminder of the atrocities he was exposed to as a child by his step father. It expresses that although Maynards intentions are good to his son and wife, occasionally he finds himself unintentionally hurting them; not physically, but mentally and this song for him in his mind keeps him on the right track. The song on the album if for us while the song he sings is for himself alone.
"Useful Idiot" 0:38
Short intermission of a record player scratching leading into the next song. Sounds uninteresting, but when you hear how it leads into the next song you will see the brilliance of it.
"46 & 2" 6:04
This quite possibly one Tool's greatest songs in every way. This is pretty much the theme of the album about growing mentally and spiritually and reaching that next level of evolution. Expanding our consciousness. It is believed that humans evolve in 3 levels each having it's own kind of consciousness. The first kind was primitive man who could not think outside of themselves. This kind had 44 chromosomes. The second kind is us and we have 46 chromosomes. Our equilibrium of consciousness is not quite stable yet and this is just the middle of our journey to the third level: "46 & 2"; the '2' being the 2 sex chromosomes for male and female or "x" and "y". This level should be our final destination or our highest level of consciousness. And yet "46 & 2 are just ahead of me".
"Message to Harry Manback" 1:53
This is a recording of a phone answering message someone got and it is an Italian sounding guy talking crazy violent crap and threatening someone who is basically unknown to me, but Maynard has supposedly put his name as the acronym of the title of this song. It fits perfectly with the mood of the next song.
"Hooker with a Penis" 4:33
This song is about Maynard meeting this young punk who had the balls to sit and tell him that because he made money off of his records and took advantage of the market the Tool were sell outs. Anyone who actually listens to Tool knows that they only write music because they love it, but yet this guy was hating Tool so much for supposedly selling out, but he bought and listened to it himself and this was just an angry song from Maynard telling the kid to f*** off. It is better to express anger through music than through real life... I do. I love this song!
A short intermission. Just maynards happier side this was put in as a pleasant joke. No lyrics.
Maynard James Keenans real name is James Hubert Keenan and as a child was known as jimmy; expressing the 'j' as lower case to signify the time in his life as a little boy. WHen he was a eleven years old is when is step father came in to his life and mentally tore him away from his mother with his abuse. It is about his mother being his guiding light to find his way back home. This is one my favorite overall Tool songs and has an incredible climatic ending.
"Die Eier von Satan" 2:17
"the eggs (or balls) of satan"
This was a psychological test of sorts for fun. It is a man speaking in german and it sound like some evil speaker like Adolf Hitler speaking real angrily. What the guy was speaking was actually the recipe for some food item. It tested to see how many people would accuse them for being evil satan worshipper's without even researching to see what was being said. Persecution without investigation as was popular to the religious inquisitors.
One of my favorite songs as well. This song is about someone who all they know is abuse and they can't seem to live any other way and so being beat on is comfortable to them and if it doesn't happen to them they have trouble functioning because they are taken from their natural environment. I don't understand reasoning, but I know from the experience of people I know very well that people like this exist. It is partially about someone ruining everything good in their life on purpose because they don't know of any other way to function. It has both meanings to me.
"Cesaro Summability" 1:26
This is like an intermission, has a baby crying in it. Cesaro Summability is some kind of mathematics thing about infinite series of sums coinciding, but I'm not too sure about it yet. Here it is part of the evolution of the album.
I couldn't wait to write this part and alot of Californian's are going to hate me and call me an idiot, but so be it, this is how I see it. This is Maynard praying for California to fall of into the ocean. As I have always felt, California, especially southern California is the most trendy superficial fake part of the world; especially L.A. and Hollywood and because of hollywood it spreads it's culture through films and media and it infects the rest of the world causing young easily persuaded kids to care more about fashion and trend than the things that are more important in life. There are many things he complains about in this album, but I feel he has the most pragmatic solution, "Learn to swim". LOL This is my anthem seeing that I am from U.S. and ashamed that California is part of our Union. I don't blame all Californians and especially not Northern Californians, but there is more good than bad.
"(-) Ions" 4:00
This is a long fill in intermission that is good to meditate to. It sounds like cracking electricity in a lab or something and is just hypnotizing.
... and to the culmination of what Tool adn this album is about...
"Third Eye" 13:47
Yes this is partially where I get the name for my Tool fan site "My Third Eye" which is my evolution and illumination. This is the idea that there are unseen truths and subtleties that we can't see with our normal vision. We have to see with our third eye or our minds eye to experience some sort of enlightenment such as that of Buddha's and so on. Our journey to reaching a spiritual higher consciousness is only sought through this is and we have to clear the cob webs from our eye to truly see the light. We close ourselves too much to the true visions of truth that are really there."Prying open my third eye".
If you have come this far thank you for reading and I hope that you have enjoyed this journey. It has been a great one for me.