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‘Intense.’ This is a word that I’ve seen being bandied about with increasing frequency in the world of music criticism. I’ve seen it used on completely undeserving bands and songs, used in the wrong context and, some of the time, it seems like the writer is thinking of an entirely different meaning of the word that I am. But if I had to sum up my favourite piece of art in one word, it would be that. And Lateralus is really, REALLY ***ing intense.

The interesting thing about Tool for me is, despite all of their ‘crazy time signature’ bravado and Danny Carey’s absolutely monstrous ability as a drummer, their music is, often, actually fairly minimalist compared to other progressive and metal bands. Sure, tracks like Schism and Vicarious boast sprawling song structures and multiple time signature changes, but when you actually listen to what’s really ‘there,’ it’s just one guitar, one bass, one drum kit and one particularly enthusiastic singer. Whilst seen as a weakness by some of the more atmosphere-focused groups in the genre, such as, say, Porcupine Tree or Opeth, this relative paucity of noisemakers is their biggest strength, as it’s what lets them hammer out their single-minded, aggressive musical ideas with a tenacity that’s almost terrifying in its relentlessness.