Review by Allan on March 11, 2002.
After the name Tool was passed around the music scene because of their “Opiate” EP, Tool released their true debut album. Complete with ten tracks, “Undertow” is quite the impressive debut. The album shows the band making quite a lot of progression from their EP.
Progressive hard rock at its best! Maybe not this album, but Tool in general. But, with that being said, “Undertow” is an impressive album. Gone are the “heaviest tracks Tool has ever written”, but a more mature and better sounding band. The loose ends have been tapered and left the band only room to grow from this point on.
Each song on here is incredibly strong. Adam Jones’ guitar sound and execution is bang on. Danny Carey’s drumming, while not as perplexing and entertaining as later material, still shows potential and is pulled off extremely well. Paul D’Amour’s bass lines are, to say the least, very well written and fitting. And Maynard James Keenan... well, what about Maynard? His vocals are great. He’s definitely one of my favorite vocalists and lyricists of all time. He can portray any emotion at any time, whatever the rest of the music calls for.
The difference from this album and the bands next masterpiece “Ænima” is that this album just isn’t as progressive. Not only that, but the atmosphere is different. While both albums convey the emotions, I can’t really put my finger on what makes this albums atmosphere different. Both are great, though. While “Undertow” and “Ænima” are very similar, I really can’t tell you why I like the latter more. Or do I even really like it more? I don’t know, but “Undertow” is a progressive hard-rock bombshell!
Bottom Line: Albums later, this album still can compete with the bands later and highly acclaimed material. This should be essential for Tool fans, or anyone interested in progressive hard rock at all. Just because it’s not the main focus of Tool’s career, doesn’t mean it’s not a great album, because it is.
Rating: 8.4 out of 10