As if inspired by Matthew 18:21-22, “The Grudge” urges listeners to forgive others. A love’s embrace brings joy on Parabol.” “Schism” seeks to bolster a relationship through improved communication. Hunting for purpose in life, lead singer Maynard James Keenan acknowledges a bigger picture (“Lateralus”) and wants to crucify his ego (“Reflection”). Patience, perseverance and hope for a better day buoy “The Patient.” Three tracks are entirely instrumental.
Curious theology finds the band longing to “swing on the spiral of our divinity and still be human” (“Lateralus”). A mild profanity disrupts the paranoid ramblings of “Faaip de Oiad.” Angry at human parasites, a man berates them on “Ticks and Leeches” (once using the f-word) and hopes they suffer for the pain they’ve caused.
The music remains foreboding, but Tool’s lyrics have brightened considerably since 1996’s Ænima. Of course, “Ticks and Leeches” leaves a nasty scar (so much for not holding a grudge) and while it’s not reflected in the band’s lyrics, their oft-reported fascination with the occult may color otherwise innocuous searches for meaning in life. Nevertheless, Lateralus]marks a dramatic improvement for the act that has Ticketmaster using a stopwatch to see how long it takes them to sell out concerts (three minutes in Atlanta; sixty seconds in New York). Pray that, in the musicians’ search for truth, God sharpens Tool.