TOOL - Ænima (Zoo Entertainment 61422-31087-2, 1996)
"Ænima" was Tool's first studio album with former Peach bassist Justin Chancellor. The title "Ænima" is a combination of the words 'anima' (Latin for 'soul' and associated with the ideas of "life force", and a term often used by psychologist Carl Jung) and 'enema', the medical procedure involving the injection of fluids into the rectum. Promotional singles were issued, in order of release, for "Stinkfist", "H.", "Ænema" and "Forty-Six & 2" with just the first and third receiving music videos. Several of the songs are short segues or interludes that connect to longer songs, pushing the total duration of the CD towards the maximum of around 80 minutes. These segues are "Useful Idiot", "Message to Harry Manback", "Intermission", "Die Eier von Satan", "Cesaro Summability", and "(-) Ions".
Themes of the album include Egyptian mythology in a seven-pointed star symbolizing Babalon, and sacred geometry in dividing the planet into grids related to chromosomes. The liner notes included references to ketamine producing dissociative anesthesia as well as Timothy Leary, ritual magic, and religious fundamentalism. The band dedicated the album to Bill Hicks (a comedian who the band felt was going in the same direction as them) and said this album to be partly inspired by him. The inside cover displays art featuring a painting of a disabled patient that shows a resemblance to singer Maynard James Keenan and Bill Hicks depicted as a doctor or "healer" with the line, "Another Dead Hero". Lines from Bill Hicks' standup set, "One Good Drug Story" and "The War on Drugs" are sampled before the song "Third Eye". Demo versions of the songs "Pushit", "Stinkfist", "Ænema", and "Eulogy" were recorded with Paul D'Amour on bass, before he left the band. These appeared online in early 2007. D'Amour also worked on "H.", as he is credited as a co-songwriter on ASCAP's website. Danny Carey labeled L. Ron Hubbard as the subject of "Eulogy".
Speculation has surrounded the song "H." The "meaning" of this song has seldom been detailed by the band, as they do not regularly comment on such things. However, on several occasions, specifically on November 23, 1996 during a show at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, Maynard did grant some insight into the meaning of the song. Speaking to the audience, he said, "Any of you ever seen those old Warner Bros. cartoons ? Sometimes there's that one where the guy is trying to make a decision, and he's got an angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Seems pretty obvious, right ? The angel is trying to give him good advice while the devil is trying to get him to do what's bad for him. It's not always that simple, though. A lot of times they're not really angels or devils, but friends giving you advice, looking out for your best interest but not really understanding what's going to be best for you. So it kind of comes down to you. You have to make the decision yourself. This song is called 'H.'" The song was discussed live during a few other shows around this time, one example being on February 23, 1997, when Maynard introduced this song by referring to the shoulder angel and devil, and also said it is about a hurtful yet dependent relationship. In an interview Keenan gave in December 1996, he commented, "My son's name is Devo H. That's all I'll say." It is also of note that the song's working title was "Half Empty", as it was introduced during a mini-tour of California by the band in December 1995. In the book Teachings of Don Juan, a Yaqui Way of Knowledge, Carlos Castaneda refers to a character named H. Keenan.
The track "Useful Idiot" features the sound of the needle skipping at the end of a gramophone record growing louder as the track progresses. The track was set at the end of side 1 of the vinyl versions of "Ænima" as a joke to fool those who owned the version. The song (on vinyl) not only ends in a locked groove, which requires manual lifting of the needle to end playback, but also continues on the run-in groove of side 2. "Message to Harry Manback" features calming new-age piano music and the background noises of seagulls while a message from an answering machine plays. The person who leaves the message is reportedly an uninvited Italian houseguest of Keenan's; the guest consumed much of the available food supply and spent much time on the phone. Upon being forced to leave, the guest called "Harry Manback", a pseudonym for Keenan's friend, and launched into a diatribe against him, forming the basis of the message. There was a follow up message that the guest left on the answering machine which became "Message to Harry Manback II", found on Salival.
"Hooker with a Penis" refers to a fan who accused the band of selling out after their first EP. "OGT" is taken to stand for "Original Gangster Tool". Keenan whispers in the left channel throughout the song. At 1:41, "consume, be fruitful, and multiply" may be alluding to Genesis, which contains the phrase "be fruitful and multiply" six times. During Lollapalooza 1997, a version of "Hooker with a Penis" remixed by Billy Howerdel in the form of lounge music played over the public address system between sets. During 1996 concerts, Maynard told audiences that the song "jimmy" is the sequel to "Prison Sex", and how it's about getting through the abuse. It is preceded by "Intermission", a short organ adaptation of the opening riff of "jimmy". The fourth, and most controversial segue is the NDH style "Die Eier von Satan". It is introduced by a distorted bassline giving way to a heavy industrial guitar, starting at the :23 mark and lasting only ten seconds, playing a single chord in Drop C tuning over a reversed drum beat in compound triple meter or 98 time. The lyrical component of the song is spoken in German by Marko Fox, bass player for ZAUM and SexTapes. He is backed by a sound that resembles a hydraulic press, and crowd cheering and applause that increase in volume as the lyrics are read with increasing ferocity. These combined effects make the song sound like a militant German rant or Nazi rally. While the tone is aggressive, the speaker is merely reciting a recipe for a cannabis edible. The band tried working titles like "The Final Recipe" (playing on Final Solution) and "Holocaust in 98", an allusion to the 1972 Genesis epic "Supper's Ready" and its final sections "Apocalypse in 98" and "As Sure As Eggs Is Eggs".
The song was originally translated by Gudrun Fox. According to Blair McKenzie Blake, the maintainer of the official Tool website, "Die Eier von Satan" originally were cookies that "Marko Fox's grandmother used to bake for him as a child, without using eggs as an ingredient. The substitution for eggs is a magical incantation from the worm-eaten pages of some moldering grimoire." This magical incantation ("sim salabim bamba sala do saladim") is taken from the German children's song "Auf einem Baum ein Kuckuck" and popularized by Harry August Jansen. According to the lyrics, the special ingredient besides this "incantation" is "a knife-tip of Turkish hashish". The title is a play on deviled eggs, translating to "The Eggs of Satan" in English or "The Balls of Satan", due to a German double entendre of "eier", which can either mean "eggs" or testicles. While there may not be eggs, "balls" do appear in the form of "ground nuts" (150 grams) while the dough itself is rolled into tiny balls before baking. So far the only time it has been performed live in its entirety was on December 19, 1996 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. The track has been compared to the work of industrial and experimental artists such as Einstürzende Neubauten, Rammstein and Tom Waits.
"Pushit" was titled as a single word to emphasize the ambiguity of the pronunciation in regard to the "s" word (push it on me/push shit on me). An alternate version of "Pushit" was performed live, including an Aloke Dutta tabla solo, and appears on Salival. The song "Third Eye" contains samples of comedian Bill Hicks. The title may be a reference to Hicks' assertions that psilocybe mushrooms could be used to "squeegee one's third eye clean." A goal of the album as a whole was to "open people up in some way and help open their third eye and help them on a path." "Ænema" makes lyrical references to Bill Hicks' set Arizona Bay, in which the San Andreas fault collapses, purging the continent of Southern California and the Baja Peninsula which would give Arizona its own oceanfront. This is further illustrated in the lenticular map under the CD tray. The alternate spelling for the song emphasizes the "enema" portion of the combined title also used for the album; in this way, it differentiates the meaning of the song (with California's collapse seen as a 'flushing out' for the country) from the meaning of the album (the "anima" emphasis indicating a spiritual, Jungian focus for the album in its entirety) while retaining the song's placement as the title track, though the differing spelling and pronunciation marks a different approach from other Tool albums that are named directly after songs (Opiate,Lateralus and Undertow) or sections of songs (10,000 Days).
Upon its release, the album was met with generally favorable reviews by mainstream music critics, citing the band's innovation and ambitions within the album's sound. Rob Theakston of AllMusic gave the album a positive review, stating that "Tool explore the progressive rock territory previously forged by such bands as King Crimson. However, Tool are conceptually innovative with every minute detail of their art, which sets them apart from most bands." Jon Wiederhorn of Entertainment Weekly said that "Ænima" was "one of 1996's strangest and strongest alt-metal records". David Fricke of Rolling Stone said that the band shoves "their iron-spike riffing and shock-therapy polemics right up the claustrophobic dead end of so-called alternative metal in the name of a greater metaphysical glory", calling it "very admirable" and "even a bit impressive", going on to say that "the best parts of "Ænima come when Tool just let the music rip". USA Today's Edna Gundersen cited it as Tool's best release, adding that the combination of the band's sound combined with the vocal capabilities of frontman Maynard James Keenan creates an album that is "Pandora's toolbox".
Among negative reviews, The Rolling Stone Album Guide was extremely critical of the album, citing its weaknesses especially when compared to the likes of the band's later releases: "With "Ænima", the band's ambitions nearly get the best of them. The increasing density of their relentlessly downcast music, augmented by occasional electronic noises, begins to feel ponderous. 'I've been wallowing in my own chaotic insecure delusions,' Maynard James Keenan mutters, and the music indulges him. The claustrophobic production doesn't help." The album appeared on several lists of the best albums of 1996, including that of Kerrang and Terrorizer. The track "Ænema" won the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1998. In 2003, "Ænima" was ranked the 6th most influential album of all time by Kerrang. In 2006, it placed 14th on a Guitar World readers poll that attempted to find the best 100 guitar albums. In 2014, readers of Rhythm voted it the third greatest drumming album in the history of progressive rock.