1. Any of various sedative narcotics containing opium or one or more of its natural or synthetic derivatives.
  2. Drugs, hormones, or other chemical substances having sedative or narcotic effects similar to those containing opium or its derivatives: a natural brain opiate. Also called opioid.
  3. Something that dulls the senses and induces relaxation or torpor.

Released in 1992 by Volcano Entertainment, Opiate is Tool's first and shortest release. The EP is 26 minutes, 52 seconds long and contains 7 songs. The music is much more straight-foward, heavier, and simple compared to most of Tool's later more complex and cerebral work. The band put their heaviest songs at the time on the release, causing surprise for some when they released Undertow two years later and it wasn't as blatantly heavy metal.

The cover of the packaging (and the disc) shows a priest with, um, really fucked-up eyes (much larger than normal with black and white markings similar to the more well-known green eye that appears on Tool's later release ├ćnima) and three pairs of hands in praying position (goes along with the song "Opiate" and the idea that religion is the opiate of the masses, as Karl Marx would put it). Inside the case there's a picture of a collage containing various little trinkets, pictures, and miscellaneous other items. Each corner represents a member of the band (and contains a picture of him as a child, in addition to numerous other things). According to the (unofficial) Tool FAQ (http://toolshed.down.net/faq/), if viewing the collage with the dog tag (which likely belongs to singer Maynard James Keenan, who spent some time in the military) in the centre portion located at the bottom, the top left corner is mostly Maynard, the top right is mostly drummer Danny Carey, the bottom right is mostly bassist Paul D'Amour (who has since left the band... on good terms), and the bottom left is mostly guitarist Adam Jones. The back of the CD version's jewel case mislabels "Jerk-off (live)" as being the same length as "Cold and Ugly (live)." I'm not sure if any other runs of printings for the release have this error or just the run my copy came from.

The design and graphics were done by Cam de Leon, the art direction by guitarist Adam Jones, and photography by Charles S. Allen.

Track list:

  1. Sweat (3:47)
  2. Hush (2:48)
  3. Part of Me (3:17)
  4. Cold and Ugly (live)1 (4:09)
  5. Jerk-off (live)1 (4:24)
  6. Opiate (5:22) / The Gaping Lotus Experience2 (2:18)

1These tracks were recorded live New Year's Eve 1991/1992 at the Jello Loft in Hollywood, California where parody band and friends of Tool, Green Jelly, were also performing. I've heard that the guy being referred to as "that Bob Marley wannabe motherfucker" at the start of "Cold and Ugly" is the singer for Green Jelly but have no idea if there's any truth to this. It's certainly plausable.

2Both "Opiate" and "The Gaping Lotus Experience" are on the same track on the CD version of the release. "The Gaping Lotus Experience" isn't listed on the track list however, as it's a secret track. "The Gaping Lotus Experience" is suppose to start at 6:06 which, combined with being on the sixth track, makes 666 (it's a joke). Different CD players may start the secret track a few seconds early or late. The vinyl format of Opiate was long thought by fans to exclude "The Gaping Lotus Experience" until it was noticed that placing the needle of the record player in a slightly different position during "Cold and Ugly" would play the secret track instead. Very clever design.

The band at the time of this recording was:

The songs were produced by Sylvia Massy, Steve Hansgen, and Tool.

Opiate is also the name of a young leftist metal band in Raleigh, NC with a teenaged cult following. They are best known for their heavy fare such as Death of a Spider. Their name precedes the release of Tool's album, if one is curious. They are played locally on Youth Voice Raleigh, a show on Shaw University's station, WSHA 88.9 FM. They have released one album, Strange Was the Dream, on New Axis Records, a tiny indie label out of Cary, NC.

Opiate is:
Bryan Eddy - vocals, bass guitar
Jared "J" Vaughn - rhythm guitar
Matt Dood - bass guitar
James Ross - lead guitar
Ian Burton - drums

Strange Was the Dream
New Axis Records
Cover design: James Ross and Nick Ring

1 - Corrosive Entity
2 - Nightmares
3 - counterculture
4 - End of the Road
5 - Death of a Spider
6 - Apokalypse...

I just bought a CD called Opiate, the what-should-have-been-eponymous debut album from a band called Tool. Clearly the work of lightweights, the album only weighs in at 34 minutes, and can perhaps be best summed up by track #1's lyrics from this year's winner of the Pretentious Use of a Middle Name award, Maynard James Keenan.

seems like I've been here before, seems so familiar

With only six tracks to choose from, you would hope that the band is only bringing their A shit to the table. But either Tool doesn't have any A shit, or they're saving it to release in a couple of years. The first track, "Sweat", is a sad Los Angeles take on the Seattle grunge movement that happened a decade earlier. Drop-D tuning so went out with flannel, guys. The song seems to be about deja vu of some kind. I don't get it, is this a concept album called "help, I'm trapped in the early nineties"?

Surprisingly, Tool's label actually let them produce a video for the second track, Hush. I think the video is supposed to be an avant-garde/sarcastic political statement about Parental Advisory stickers. The song itself has a "fuck you, I'll sing whatever I want" attitude, which might have been interesting before Marilyn Manson and Eminem made it passe.

The third track, Part of Me, is a stalker-esque look at romance in the Big City. Gee. Four guys form a band and they sing about how fucked up their relationships with their women are. I've never seen that formula before. As with the other tracks on this album, the music is very much in an early Rage Against the Machine / Helmet style, but without Rage's injection of a little hip-hop/funk feel, and without Helmet's timeliness.

Helping to prove how little A game this band can bring, the fourth and fifth tracks are live takes, with the ever-cleverly-named Maynard James Keenan providing gratuitous swearing to start the songs. This stuff is a little faster paced than the studio tracks, which could have made it interesting, but unfortunately the angry lyrical sentiments are straight out of Limp Bizkit. In this post 911 world, even Fred Durst realized that the time for being a hater is over -- and yet these jerks somehow think they can pull it off with back-to-back live songs about people they hate.

The album closes with one more studio track, Opiate. More of the same from a band that's clearly a product of their time -- their time being about a decade before they were good enough with their instruments to get signed to a decent label. And they close it with a hidden track, six minutes and six seconds into the sixth track (oh look, a 666, we weren't supposed to notice that), some trash about Satan and drugs and boredom. The disaffected pop-as-satanic-rock thing was tired by the time Judas Priest got bored with it, so this album closed leaving me as unimpressed as I began.

Don't get me wrong, Tool would have been a talented, edgy band had they released this album ten years ago. I might have even been able to believe that the hidden track was intentionally subversive and over-the-top. But released in 2002, this album comes off as flat and uninspired. They play with a lot of themes that have been used before. And where they did decide to dip their toe into the water of political music, they did it by taking on an issue (censorship and advisory labels) that hasn't been a controversy for nearly a decade. The guitarist has some chops -- if he could adapt his style to something just a little more modern, like Staind or Creed -- he might be able to find luck doing backup guitar for another, more innovative band.

In closing, Tool's debut album is a little past its sell-by date. That proves to this critic that Tool has very little song-writing talent, and that if they do manage to get a record label to let them release a follow-up, it will be nothing worth my time to review.

-- Mark in Minnesota

O"pi*ate (?), n. [From Opium: cf.F. opiat.]


Originally, a medicine of a thicker consistence than sirup, prepared with opium.



Any medicine that contains opium, and has the quality of inducing sleep or repose; a narcotic.


Anything which induces rest or inaction; that which quiets uneasiness.

They chose atheism as an opiate. Bentley.


© Webster 1913.

O"pi*ate, a. [See Opium.]

Inducing sleep; somniferous; narcotic; hence, anodyne; causing rest, dullness, or inaction; as, the opiate rod of Hermes.



© Webster 1913.

O"pi*ate (?), v. t.

To subject to the influence of an opiate; to put to sleep.




© Webster 1913.

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