Last updated
Tool aenema.png
Single by Tool
from the album Ænima
ReleasedAugust 9, 1997
Label Zoo
Producer(s) David Bottrill
Tool singles chronology
"Forty Six & 2"
Audio sample
Excerpt of "Ænema"

"Ænema" is a song by rock band Tool, released as the third single from their third major-label release Ænima . Adam Jones made a video for the song using stop-motion animation; it is included in the Salival boxed set. The song reached number twenty-five on the US Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in August 1997.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Tool (band) American alternative metal band

Tool is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1990, the group's line-up includes drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, and vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Justin Chancellor has been the band's bassist since 1995, replacing their original bassist Paul D'Amour. Tool has won three Grammy Awards, performed worldwide tours, and produced albums topping the charts in several countries.

<i>Ænima</i> 1996 studio album by Tool

Ænima is the second studio album by American rock band Tool. It was released in vinyl format on September 17, 1996, and in compact disc format on October 1, 1996 through Zoo Entertainment. The album was recorded and cut at Ocean Way, Hollywood and The Hook, North Hollywood from 1995 to 1996. The album was produced by David Bottrill.


The song makes extensive use of hemiola, a musical technique in which the emphasis in a triple meter is changed to give the illusion that both a duple and a triple meter occur in the song.

In music, hemiola is the ratio 3:2. The equivalent Latin term is sesquialtera. In pitch, hemiola refers to the interval of a perfect fifth. In rhythm, hemiola refers to three beats of equal value in the time normally occupied by two beats.

The song is cast in terminally climactic form, [1] in which two verse/chorus pairs give way to a climactic ending on new material.

Lyrical references

Keenan incorporates into the lyrics part of comedian Bill Hicks' sketch "Goodbye You Lizard Scum" from his album Arizona Bay by stating the line "learn to swim, see you down in Arizona Bay." Hicks appears in the liner notes/sleeve as a doctor, and a lenticular image below the case tray illustrates a large portion of California disappearing leaving only the Pacific Ocean, as is mentioned in the song. California falling into the sea is a prediction made by Edgar Cayce, also known as "The Sleeping Prophet," about the end of days in which California and New York are to sink into the ocean among a plethora of other devastating weather changes.

Bill Hicks American comedian

William Melvin Hicks was an American stand-up comedian, social critic, satirist and musician. His material—encompassing a wide range of social issues including religion, politics, and philosophy—was controversial and often steeped in dark comedy.

<i>Arizona Bay</i> 1997 live album by Bill Hicks

Arizona Bay is an album by comedian Bill Hicks, posthumously released in 1997. It was released alongside Rant in E-Minor, marking three years since his death. The album's title refers to the hope that Los Angeles will one day fall into the ocean due to a major earthquake. Hicks contends that the world will be better off in L.A.'s absence:

Ahhh, it's gone, it's gone, it's gone...All the shitty shows are gone, all the idiots screaming in the fucking wind are dead, I love it...leaving nothing but a cool, beautiful serenity called Arizona Bay. That's right, when L.A. falls in the fucking ocean and is flushed away, all it will leave is Arizona Bay.

Lenticular printing

Lenticular printing is a technology in which lenticular lenses are used to produce printed images with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as the image is viewed from different angles.

Here in this hopeless fucking hole we call LA
The only way to fix it is to flush it all away
Any fucking time, any fucking day
Learn to swim, I'll see you down in Arizona bay.

In general the song is a diatribe against celebrity culture, particularly around Los Angeles. This includes everything from the Church of Scientology (with the line "Fuck L. Ron Hubbard and fuck all his clones"), to possibly rappers ("gun-toting hip gangster wannabes"), to drug addicts, Hollywood executives and actresses whom Maynard views as scum and wishes would all be flushed down the proverbial toilet.

Church of Scientology organization devoted to the practice and the promotion of the Scientology belief system

The Church of Scientology is a multinational network and hierarchy of numerous ostensibly independent but interconnected corporate entities and other organizations devoted to the practice, administration and dissemination of Scientology, a new religious movement. Although in some countries it has attained legal recognition as a religion, the movement has been the subject of a number of controversies, and has been accused by critics of being both a cult and a commercial enterprise.

L. Ron Hubbard American science fiction author and the founder of the Church of Scientology

Lafayette Ronald Hubbard was an American author of science fiction and fantasy stories, and the founder of the Church of Scientology. In 1950, Hubbard authored Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health and established a series of organizations to promote Dianetics. In 1952, Hubbard lost the rights to Dianetics in bankruptcy proceedings, and he subsequently founded Scientology. Thereafter Hubbard oversaw the growth of the Church of Scientology into a worldwide organization. Hubbard was cited by Smithsonian magazine as one of the 100 most significant Americans of all time.

The title of the song is an amalgam of the words "Anima", "Enema" and perhaps also "Æon". "Æon" is featured in the works of Aleister Crowley. "Anima", Carl Jung's concept of the female persona found in males, is evoked by Keenan in the lines:

Aleister Crowley English poet, mountaineer, and occultist

Aleister Crowley was an English occultist, ceremonial magician, poet, painter, novelist, and mountaineer. He founded the religion of Thelema, identifying himself as the prophet entrusted with guiding humanity into the Æon of Horus in the early 20th century. A prolific writer, he published widely over the course of his life.

Carl Jung Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist

Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology.

Mom's gonna fix it all soon.
Mom's comin' round to put it back the way it ought to be.


Learn to swim.

In addition to being a humorous aside, this line can be seen as a metaphoric command to abandon the materialism Keenan sees in Angeleno culture and learn to navigate the 'feminine' unconscious. The ocean is a traditional symbol for the 'feminine' (mother ocean, etc.) and also for the vast latent psychological energies postulated in the models of Freud and Jung:

Cause I'm praying for rain
And I'm praying for tidal waves
I wanna see the ground give way.
I wanna watch it all go down.
Mom, please flush it all away.
I wanna see it go right in and down.
I wanna watch it go right in.
Watch you flush it all away.

In this sense the 'ground' can be seen as the 'Ego' in Freud's terminology. Here the 'Ego' has become hopelessly corrupted and needs to be subsumed, drowned and absorbed by the unconscious so it can be resurrected in a new form on the shores of 'Arizona Bay'. This point was reiterated on Tool's follow up album in the song "Reflection": "I must crucify the ego before it's far too late"

The occult use of the word "Enema" in the title again poetically communicates what Keenan believes to be the 'shithole' nature of the culture of Los Angeles that can only be cured by destructive and ultimately transformative 'feminine' energy.

Just when Maynard's ranting becomes hopelessly misanthropic and no interpretation is possible but that of a prayer for an old testament-scale destruction of a modern-day Sodom by a great Goddess, Keenan gives the listener a hint to the metaphorical nature of the language:

Don't just call me pessimist.
Try and read between the lines.
I can't imagine why you wouldn't
Welcome any change, my friend.

During the period the song was written, Keenan abandoned Los Angeles for Arizona – ironically a landscape with even less literal water/rain/tidal forces than Los Angeles – which is perhaps another hint that Keenan's apocalyptic deluge is symbolic: the ending of one consciousness/value system/Weltanschauung and the emergence of a new one. One possible interpretation is that the lyrics are nothing more than a description of a purely internal drama during a transitional time in the author's life. [2]

Music video

Adam Jones directed the video for "Ænema" which features stop-motion animation with art design by Cam de Leon. The video revolves around a humanoid figure with alien-like features. Throughout the video the character ventures through an aquatic world. A hose-like organ (resembling an umbilical cord) which squirts out water protrudes from its abdomen and fills the room in which the figure stands. Towards the end of the video a human character wearing business attire tosses the figure in a water-filled box.

Track listing

1."Ænema" (P.M. version)6:39
2."Ænema" (A.M. version)6:39


Tool received the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance for "Ænema", at the 40th Grammy Awards in 1998. [3]

Chart performance

Chart (1997)Peak
US Mainstream Rock ( Billboard ) [4] 25

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  1. Osborn, Brad (2013). "Subverting the Verse–Chorus Paradigm: Terminally Climactic Forms in Recent Rock Music". Music Theory Spectrum. 35 (1): 45.
  2. 33 Things You Should Know About Tool Article on Blender :: The Ultimate Guide to Music and More Archived May 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  3. Morse, Steve (January 7, 1998). "Paula Cole a leader in Grammys" (fee required). The Boston Globe. The New York Times Company. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
  4. "Tool Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved August 7, 2017.