Arguably the height of the recording industry, 1996 was another world. The ritual of purchasing music was unlike anything we experience today: the anticipation, the feverish unwrapping of plastic armor, the crispness of a brand new CD delicately placed into a player. 20 years ago when Tool’s Aenima came out, on-demand listening of music was through physical formats, like CDs and cassettes. 20 years later in 2016, though, you’ll still have to purchase Aenima in a brick and mortar store or from an online retailer of physical formats, because Tool’s music is not available for purchase of a digital download and is only available to stream unofficially on YouTube.
Aenima is one of those rare albums in a band’s career where each song is not just memorable, but classic and has a lasting cultural impact. “Stinkfist” the first single from the Tool’s canonical rock classic was in regular rotation on the radio as well as MTV. The video, created by Tool guitarist Adam Jones, wasn't aired without controversy as the title was broadcast as "Track 1." The words "Constant over stimulation numbs me, but i would not want it any other way" and "There's something kind of sad about, the way that things have come to be, desensitized to everything, what became of subtlety," still resonate today.
Songs like Eulogy, 46&2 and H., were instant radio favorites. This record also cast Maynard James Keenan as one of the best singers in rock history and same goes for the rest of the band. While Tool’s albums aren’t necessarily known for intricate or ear-worm inducing guitar work, the percussion and bass in Tool’s discography is some of the best in the business.
Tool led a post-grunge audience into a world where rock was no longer the king it was since the 60's. With production sample laden progrock full of dynamics and deep lyrical meaning, Tool made introspective heavy music much more palatable than ever before. Aenima secured Tool as the 1990s’ Pink Floyd, with evolved arrangements much more nuanced than a lot of the popular rock they were surrounded by.
As with many full length records, some of the most memorable parts of Aenima were subtle sounds and fills throughout the album. The last track titled “Third Eye,” included a clip of a famous portion of Bill Hick’s stand up: “If you don’t think drugs have done anything good for society..”