REVIEW: TOOL - Fear Inoculum
Review : Kyla Scrivener
13 long years have gone by and many Tool fans have been starved and ravenous for their next feed. August 30th gifted us a golden tasty morsel as rare as a unicorn, the ever awaited 5th studio album from the Tool gods, Fear Inoculum. Simultaneously with the album release, Tool digitally released their musical catalogue on all digital and streaming media formats which was a big move by a band that was previously against this specific choice in media platform.
Recipients who also purchased the deluxe album were not disappointed with the effort put into the packaging which we come to expect from Tool. Every album was delivered with a four inch mini LCD screen that allowed the listener to view the classic Alex Grey imagery experienced at the shows and ambient background music that you were able to play and pause while exploring your album artwork and printed lyrical content (which was also a first for Tool).
Sonically, the opening track and first single released, Fear Inoculum is a strong point of origin. It plunges us straight back to 2006, reminiscent of 10,000 Days and is the quintessential Tool sound that we have waited to hear again after all these years. It is as though they have picked up exactly where the last album finished as if no time has passed and is a journey through nostalgia. As with all Tool albums, every song plays a part in the bigger picture. So as we progress through the album the songs seamlessly bleed into one another forming a cohesive immersion. As we seep into the second track Pneuma, it feels much the same as Fear Inoculum; however it builds upon its foundations.
The formulation is still the classic Adam Jones riffs and Danny Carey’s tribal drumming and percussion but it is beefed out with a lot more atmospheric and ambient build ups. Then we get to the third song Invincible and it’s very much the same. I don’t want to say it, but it’s starting to sound a bit, well, too Tool-esque? Almost as though the last three songs are the same song and audibly they are very similar. You can’t fault them for consistency but it does drone on for me a bit too long and I am left begging for the usual kick to the face aggression by now to balance it out. Yet we are back at quiet percussion, picking and swoony Maynard harmonies. We get a little taste of it right at the end which is super Lateralus in the feels but not enough to wake you from your lulled state.
For the next few songs hopefully your acid has kicked in as they take you on a sonic journey of other worldliness. I found myself getting side tracked through the centre of the album and losing interest a little. Almost like reading a hard novel that you really have to concentrate through to understand otherwise you would miss the point. I feel a lot of people at Burning Man understood the meaning of the universe in this section of the album. While those of us who listened to the album sober are waiting for the climax.
It’s not until Chocolate Chip Trip, an acid jazz instrumental intermission which seems super Primus like, that I am sucked back into the journey. It is a hallucinogenic and bizarre experimental piece that you can enjoy listening to Danny Carey going all out on. It’s completely peculiar yet refreshing and necessary to reawaken your senses.
This is followed by the 7empest – the Stinkfist / Parabola / Forty Six & 2 of the album. Finally we get the aggression and release that we have been waiting for. This fifteen minute long opus completely breaks the edging tension and reminds us that Tool once saw heavier days and is reminiscent of Undertow. In my opinion this is by far the best song on the album. I wish we had at least three more of these scattered throughout the album to balance it out. However ending on it gives the build up depth and meaning.
Tool is an experimental and all encompassing experience of audio, visual, intoxication vs sobriety and artistic performance that challenges the minds and opinions of fans alike. Fear Inoculum has all of these aspects and it feels as though this album will continue to grow on listeners as we divulge more conspiracy theories and meaningful understanding of what Tool were trying to achieve. This makes it hard to have a crystal clear opinion on the album as it can ebb and flow like the music, as you continue to process it as you listen. One thing can be agreed upon though, with such varying opinions from listeners, it is definitely a work of art that ignites something inside you enough to think critically about what you are listening to.
For me, the album is an evolution of one long song. I feel the tracks kept us edging and not until 7empest do we get the hit we were waiting for. This leaves me torn as I cannot tell whether I needed them to go into heavier territory due to my own musical tastes evolving so much over that 13 year span, or whether Tool’s progression into more experimental sounds is what they needed to create and continue to evolve the Tool ethos as a mature band.
What makes art successful is its ability to create opinions, whether they be positive or negative. Fear Inoculum is a successful piece of art that ignites a response from the listener and in this regard I predict it will continue to evolve and change in the view of Tool fans eyes over the coming months as the bands is able to bring it to life in a live performance.
TOOL - Fear Inoculum is OUT NOW
Get it here : https://smarturl.it/TOOL.FEARINOCULUM