Today is the 25th anniversary of the release of the greatest album ever created by mankind: Ænima by Tool was released on September 17, 1996.
Many, many great artworks have influenced my life in countless ways, but this is #1 on the list. I can’t imagine it ever being supplanted from that position.
I could wax poetic and philosophical on the work itself, its themes, messages, and spectacular music, and the myriad ways it has influenced me. I could talk about how its art and style has engrossed me for 25 years and how I have prints of the album art, signed by the artist, on my wall. I could recite all the lyrics of every song. I could talk about how I’ve bought at least 3 copies due to lost CDs and different editions, and the neverending search for an affordable vinyl copy. But this is all stuff you can research and read elsewhere.
What you won’t read elsewhere is why it’s the greatest album ever made. This doesn’t seem to be a popular opinion – it seems that most Tool fans think Lateralus is better. And I’m told that there are people who think the greatest album ever made isn’t even a Tool album. But those people’s opinions obviously don’t matter.
I argue that Ænima is the greatest album because it’s the pinnacle of “angry tool”. After Ænima, Tool’s music turned in a more “spiritual” direction, with messages tending to be more positive rather than angry. While I can understand why they took this direction and I don’t disagree that it’s a good direction for them to go in, I think that the rage you see much more in early Tool is part of what really made them great, and that they have lost something by toning that down. Indeed, my favourite songs on the later albums are often songs like “Right In Two”, which still have some of that rage, often mixed with humour.
Regardless of what I might think personally of some of the members, I’ll always be grateful to Tool for creating this masterpiece.
In particular, for the greatest song ever written, and the real reason why this is the greatest album ever made:
And That’s All I have to say about that.