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Opiate, an EP by the American rock band Tool, was released in 1992 as a precursor to their first full-length album, Undertow. Produced and engineered by Sylvia Massy and Steve Hansgen, a former Minor Threat bassist, the EP resulted from two years of collaboration since the band’s formation in 1990. It was certified platinum by the RIAA, and when Tool made their catalog available on online streaming platforms in August 2019, Opiate charted on various international charts.
The title of the EP, Opiate, draws inspiration from a quote by Karl Marx: “religion … is the opiate of the masses.” Comprising seven songs across six tracks, with two being live recordings, most versions of the EP (excluding the cassette) feature a hidden seventh track named “The Gaping Lotus Experience.” Notably, vinyl copies contain a double groove on the second side, with one groove featuring “Cold and Ugly,” the second containing “The Gaping Lotus Experience,” and both leading into “Jerk-Off.”
The song “Sweat” found a place on the Escape from L.A. soundtrack. Special recordings for the album, “Cold and Ugly” and “Jerk-Off,” were made at the Jellö Loft on New Year’s Eve 1991 with a live audience. Notably, these songs have never been available as standard studio recordings except for the band’s 1991 demo tape 72826.
The EP is known for its unique CD version, where “The Gaping Lotus Experience” is hidden at the end of the last track and begins approximately 6 minutes and 10 seconds into the track. The original CD inserts include a collage of childhood photos of band members, various items, and a controversial image meant as a joke involving a friend in prop maker Stan Winston’s studio, not actual necrophilia.
A black and white music video was created for the track “Hush,” Tool’s first, which received regular airplay on the Canadian music channel MuchMusic.
Musically, Opiate, alongside Undertow, is considered by many Tool fans to be the band’s heaviest work. The EP features straightforward song structures in contrast to the progressive elements Tool would become known for in later albums. Lyrical themes explored on Opiate include censorship and organised religion, setting the stage for Tool’s distinctive blend of heavy sound and thought-provoking lyrics.
A3 Part Of Me
BA1 Cold And Ugly (Live)
BB1 The Gaping Lotus Experience
BA2 Jerk-Off (Live)
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