It's really interesting to see how Tool logically progresses from one album to the other in an orderly manner. Ænima can be regarded as Tool's breakthrough album, three years after "Undertow", a record that showed a band clearly above average but hardly progressive and pretty much like a diamond in rough.
With Ænima, pieces started to fall into place, with a bang. Personally, it took me quite some time to get used to it and I always remember when I used to walk around town with this record on my walkman and nothing made sense. But something in the back of my head kept telling me to insist on it and I'm glad I heard it. Suddenly, out of nowhere, bang! And then there was light.
"Stinkfist" is one of my favorite Tool tracks, a terrific opener, but it's the second song, "Eulogy" that really grabs me by the nuts and doesn't let go. This, for me, is like perfection at all levels, not the least the lyrics department. The way Maynard sings "you claimed all this time you'd die for me/why then are you so surprised when you hear your own eulogy?" there's just something utterly beautiful on the tone of his voice - which also happens in most of "H.", the track that follows.
These are basically the highlights, along with "Forty Six & Two", with its unforgettable and unmistakable bass line. What keeps me from giving this album five stars is the weaker numbers like "Hooker With a Penis" and "Die Eier Von Satan" and also how this still feels a bit all over the place and in need of some tyding up. A handful of classic Tool songs isn't enough to make a classic album just by itself and Ænima I think suffers from that. The album that would follow five long years later would fill in those blanks perfectly, though.
People who sporadically listen to Tool and don't lean too heavily into progressive music, tend to prefer this. For the proghead, though, "Lateralus" is a few notches up. Still, an excellent addition.