1992: the Opiate EP this was actually recently rereleased, with new album artwork that was done by Adi Granov, who is noted for having designed the movie versions of the Iron Man armors. This is an EP, and it is definitely different from their later work. Tool was founded in 1990 (officially, anyways) and this album reflects a lot of the hardcore, punk, thrash metal, and alternative music of that time and place. Additionally, 2 of the 6 songs were recorded at live venues in LA on New Year’s Eve in 1991. This is a more polished album than 72826, but they were still growing.
First of all, we should continue to examine the effect of Bill Hicks on the band. Bill Hicks was not well known when he was performing. Not by a longshot. Denis Leary is actually well known for having stolen large chunks of Bill’s material. Denis got famous for ranting about smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee. Those rants were word-for-word repetitions of Bill Hicks performances. Bill tended to burn bridges as he crossed them, so to speak. He had some very articulate and accurate criticisms of America, but people in the U.S. do not like to hear about their failings as a nation. Regardless of his personal success, Bill was hugely influential on his contemporaries and those that followed him. His work got used by Denis because Bill was too far out in the extremes to make it as a headliner. Bill was smart, intelligent, and proactive. For a comedian, being a left wing liberal is practically a requirement. But Bill took it far enough to make sure he was not going to get a TV show. It is as simple as that.
1996: Ænima (Pronounced Aah-Ni-Ma) was Tool’s breakthrough to mainstream success. The album title is a portmanteau of the Jungian term “Anima”, which refers to a person’s soul or life force and the word Enema, which is when you have medicinal treatments put into your body by shoving them up your ass. The album is meant to be an enema for the soul. So quit clenching. The first song on the album is titled “Stinkfist”, refering to a rather intense sexual practice. People were confused by the song title and meaning. I find mass stupidity amusing, and so does the band. Anyways, Stinkfist was very popular and it received a good amount of mainstream airplay, including being on TRL with Carson Daly. Carson Daly was told by the producers of TRL that he could not say the name of the song, so he quite infamously just waved his fist back and forth in front of the camera to introduce the song on TRL. Each song bears mentioning, but I will try for brevity. The major themes of the album reflect the comedy and observations of Bill Hicks. Bill was a big proponent of using LSD, Marijuana, Psylocibin, and other Psychotropics to enhance life. The second song on the album “Eulogy” was Bill’s eulogy. He died of Cancer a year or two before the album was released. The song “Forty-Six & 2” is a fan favorite that (again) reflects Jungian Psychological Theories and goes on to propose the next stage of human evolution. You have 23 pairs of chromosomes. 23 pairs means 46. 1 extra or 1 less chromosome would manifest as birth defects or cognitive impairments. The song suggests another pair of chromosomes: “& 2”, which is used to illustrate the goal of elevating our collective thinking as a species. Kind of interesting for a “heavy metal” band, huh? There are also several tracks which consist of sound clips or spoken word bits that the band found amusing. These include a voicemail message left on a friend’s machine, an intermission song with xylophones, and a speach performed in german that is deliberately made to sound like a NAZI propaganda speach. Upon translation, the speach is revealed to be a recipe for deviled eggs. The title translates as “the Eggs of Satan”. Another fan favorite is “Push it”, which deals with interpersonal relationships. It is a markedly softer song than the band’s other work, and it is quite good. The album’s title track, “Ænima” is, as previously stated, an enema for the soul. It is about a massive flood coming and washing away the majority of Southern California. A calamity that the band thinks people should deal with by learning to swim. The result of the flood is “Arizona Bay”, which is the title of Bill Hicks’ last standup performance. The last song on the album is called “Third Eye”, and it is about using drugs to expand your horizons. The songs begins with a Bill Hicks quote: “See, I think drugs have done some good things. If you don’t, then you should go home and take all your Album, your CDs, and your Tapes and burn them. Because all those musicians that enhanced your lives were RRREEEAAAAALLLLYYY High on drugs.”