Giving Birth to a Stone

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Although little fanfare accompanied the original release of Giving Birth to a Stone in the early '90s, the 2000 re-release of Peach's only album was met with considerably greater interest. This heightened curiosity was almost completely due to the fact that Peach was Justin Chancellor, the bassist who joined Tool in late 1995, following Peach's disintegration. Shortly after Chancellor came aboard, Tool released their hugely successful breakthrough album, Aenima, and soon became one of the most popular heavy rock bands of the latter half of the '90s. However, due to protracted legal difficulties with their label, Tool and their audience were left with an interminably long wait between albums. Along with Maynard James Keenan's quasi-side project, A Perfect Circle, the reissue of Giving Birth to a Stone could almost be viewed as a stopgap for Tool aficionados, intended to satiate their hunger for new material. Because Tool had incorporated two Peach songs ("Spasm" and "You Lied") into their set lists in 1998, many fans were eager to hear more of Chancellor's old band. Indeed, the album even looks like a Tool release, as Adam Jones stepped in to provide the album's artwork. From a sonic standpoint, however, Peach differs considerably from Tool. Yes, they prove themselves wholly capable of churning out thick, bass-heavy Sabbath/Crimson riffs at will, yet they temper their sound with healthy doses of ethereal, Cure-inspired textures as well. The album's production tends to highlight the latter; rather than accentuating the tight, visceral guitar parts, the sound is more expansive and reverb-drenched. Depending on one's tastes, this could be seen as either good or bad; admittedly, the coolly detached vocals require some getting accustomed to when heard over the heavier passages. The songs that work best, though ("You Lied," "Burn") are those that combine these disparate elements into a seamless whole. While sluggish in spots (the silly lyrical content of "Catfood" sinks the entire song), the album seldom strays off course, and should be of interest to Tool diehards.

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