ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Tool “Opiate” EP
Released: March 10th 1992
Label: Zoo Entertainment
After forming in 1990 and spending the first two years as a band writing and playing live shows, Tool signed to alternative rock label Zoo Entertainment and soon after released their first Extended Play “Opiate”. Consisting of six songs and one sneaky bonus track, the EP rocks out hard and slaps you in the face continually with its punchy drums, heavy guitar and bass riffs as well as Maynard’s melodic yell style vocals. This album really allows you to dive in and experience early Tool and hear where the swells and musical development all began.
The overall sound of the album is quite raw and grungey, and you can hear where the music would have sat amongst the likes of Alice In Chains and Soundgarden, but with noticeably heavier riffs, which would later re-define heavy metal. Even this early EP proves how the band challenged the traditional metal sound and pushed the boundaries into a more progressive/alternative style of metal. The opening track starts off with a heavy groove that really sets the vibe for the entire EP, before Maynard comes in with his signature eerie vocals. The song develops from riff to riff before sending you into the second song on the album, the bands only single released off the album, “Hush”. The song is supposedly about music censorship, which is somewhat evident from the repeated “I can’t say what I want to, even if I’m not serious”. There are also two live tracks on the album, “Cold & Ugly” and “Jerk Off” which were recorded especially for the EP at a New Years Eve gig in 1991. Though live, the sound quality and playing ability isn’t hindered in the slightest, but instead maintains the drive and vibe presented in the previous tracks, yet allows you to feel closer and more engaged to the music. You’re then sent into the title track “Opiate”, which starts quite withdrawn but manages to build into the power storm that every other track on the EP has proved to build to. And just when you thought it was over, a hidden track plays that screams the influence of The Beatles’ “Within You Without You” mixed with The Doors’ “The End” but with an eerie melancholic Maynard twist that admittedly sends you down yet another rabbit hole.
Full of drive, groove and the beginnings of Tool’s varied yet definable soundscape, “Opiate” is twenty-seven minutes of your time you won’t mind giving up. All in all, whether you’re a lover of Tool or want to dip your toes into the pool of progressive metal, I would highly recommend giving this album a spin.