Tool - Fear Inoculum review



Reviewer:
8.3

318 users:
8.20
Band: Tool
Album: Fear Inoculum
Release date: August 2019


01. Fear Inoculum
02. Pneuma
03. Litanie Contre La Peur [bonus]
04. Invincible
05. Legion Inoculant [bonus]
06. Descending
07. Culling Voices
08. Chocolate Chip Trip
09. 7empest
10. Mockingbeat [bonus]


30/08/2019; a day of huge importance. Finally, after so long, millions of people could at long last stop making the same tired jokes about waiting for the new Tool album.

Even as Wintersun managed to finally release (part of) Time back in 2012, Tool was already held in the esteem as Half-Life 3 and now the next A Song Of Ice And Fire novel. The same quip came up every time any news regarding this album emerged: "I won't believe it's out until I'm holding it in my hands and have listened to it twice". Well, Fear Inoculum, a whole 13 years (or 4,868 days) after 10,000 Days dropped, finally is here, ready to be held and listened to. So, what's the verdict?

Having heard "Descending" and "Invincible" live back in June, I had a suspicion this would lean more towards the lengthier efforts on their two most recent albums, which has now been confirmed. With seven tracks (10 on the digital version, with three brief interludes added), running at just shy of 80-minutes, the only one of these seven not to break the 10-minute barrier is the redundant "Chocolate Chip Trip", an irritating electronics/drums interlude that leaves me longing for a time when Tool used German egg recipes to break up their tracklists. Aside from that, you have 6 songs that together last around 75 minutes. That alone is a pretty firm indication of the direction Tool have taken on Fear Inoculum - there's no shorter, hookier tracks such as "Stinkfist" or "Schism" to contrast the lengthy, brooding epics. 'Excessive' clearly wasn't a word oft-spoken during the Fear Inoculum writing process.

The trend towards increased length isn't the only thing this album takes from Lateralus and 10,000 Days; there's a number of sonic overlaps between those two efforts and this latest magnum opus. The title track, right out of the gate, exhibits a substantial resemblance to "Reflection" from Lateralus, with its tom-dominated drum pattern, elliptical bassline and patient build-up, whereas "Pneuma" inspired thoughts of "The Patient" with a prominent heavy riff and "Right In Two" with its percussive midsection. "Patient" is a word that could be applied to many of these songs; the occasional labelling of Tool as a post-metal band has never felt more apt than on this record. The only song to really step up the heaviness early on (or really at all, in terms of old-school aggression) is "7empest", the one track that clearly demonstrates the band reaching back further to the likes of Ænima and Undertow, and perhaps the standout song on Fear Inoculum.

I should state now, if the score didn't give it away, that I like this album a fair amount. The aforementioned "7empest" makes for a strong ending to what is already a rewarding and intriguing journey. Other songs that have really stood out to me are "Pneuma", a song infused with some real passion, particularly in the vocals, and "Descending", which a drumming tour de force that (aside from a detour about 2/3 through) builds and builds in intensity throughout to two separate satisfying climaxes. At the same time, as someone who is aware of the reasons that many people cite for failing to connect with Tool, Fear Inoculum feels like the epitome of everything that said group dislikes about the band. A substantial amount of this album is slow and ponderous; the focus on exclusively long tracks means that the complex-yet-memorable hooks the band have reliably demonstrated themselves capable of on the likes of "Parabola", "Forty-Six And Two" and even longer tracks such as "Lateralus" are in rather short supply here. Combined with the focus on softer, contemplative music in place of aggression, this already leads certain tracks on a bit of an uphill battle to make a really strong impression.

To add to that, as good as many of the climaxes delivered on Fear Inoculum are, after what must be approaching double figures in re-listens, nothing here has really overwhelmed me in the way that the likes of the "Overwhelmed as one would be" part of "Rosetta Stoned", the suffocating sustained monologue at the end of "Lateralus", or "Shine on, forever shine on" in "Jambi" have and still do. And as a result, the impression that Fear Inoculum has left on me is one of admiration and appreciation, but not quite awe. And for me, that's fine; it just depends whether that's fine for anyone who was expecting a linear relationship between the duration between and the quality of releases.

As much as the focus of this review may seem drawn more towards the negative, it's not intended to be a downer of a review; it's just easier to pinpoint what stops this being an amazing album to me, rather than what makes it a great album. Personally, as a fan of Tool, I was not disappointed by Fear Inoculum, and I look forward to continuing to revisit it and further familiarize myself with it. Maybe with time I'll even consider this review to be harsh. That said, when the dust finally has settled, I do not see it overtaking Ænima, Lateralus or 10,000 Days to become their crowning glory.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 9


 



Written on 02.09.2019 by I'm just a guy with an opinion.


Comments

Comments: 17   Visited by: 366 users
02.09.2019 - 23:14
IH8Hipsters
I loved the album, but I'm a huge Tool fan. However, this is not their best album IMO.

My hope is they don't wait so long between their next albums and I wouldn't mind a couple heavier, faster paced shorter songs on here to level the album out more.
Loading...
02.09.2019 - 23:48
musclassia
Written by IH8Hipsters on 02.09.2019 at 23:14

I loved the album, but I'm a huge Tool fan. However, this is not their best album IMO.

My hope is they don't wait so long between their next albums and I wouldn't mind a couple heavier, faster paced shorter songs on here to level the album out more.


Yeah, pretty much my exact thoughts. I think all the songs are really solid in isolation, but it is lacking a bit of variety to help the songs stand out a bit more.
Loading...
03.09.2019 - 00:57
Czerny Reiter
Considering the guys are pushing fifty a mellowed-out Tool was to be expected so we get a work in line with the more drawn-out parts of Lateralus and Ten Thousand Days.

Just this moment I'd call it a minor work, but seeing that I too can mellow as a listener over the coming years I can't write it off proper just yet. The album objectively lacks bite but given the right frame of mind and a cleared schedule it can be a rewarding journey.
Loading...
03.09.2019 - 02:43
Batlord666
Actually very excited to hear that the album is mostly mellow and ponderous. I've been trying to get into Tool for a while, but I always get taken out of it when they add in the hard rock elements. Definitely looking forward to giving this a shot.
Loading...
03.09.2019 - 02:56
mz
I see your points, except for finding substantial post metal elements in this.
I personally loved it a lot. It sounds much more mature and natural than 10000 days, which I find to be mindering and empty at times.
----
Giving my ears a rest from music.
Loading...
03.09.2019 - 05:20
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by Batlord666 on 03.09.2019 at 02:43
Actually very excited to hear that the album is mostly mellow and ponderous.

Same. 10,000 Days is the only album of Tool I really enjoy so this might be more up my alley.
----
I have no memory of this place.
Loading...
03.09.2019 - 18:02
JoHn DoE
Finally listened to it and I thought it was ok. Good but not great, for now... Songs that stood out for me upon first listen: Descending and 7empest.
Loading...
04.09.2019 - 01:38
DeliciousDishes
Written by Troy Killjoy on 03.09.2019 at 05:20

Written by Batlord666 on 03.09.2019 at 02:43
Actually very excited to hear that the album is mostly mellow and ponderous.

Same. 10,000 Days is the only album of Tool I really enjoy so this might be more up my alley.

I dunno even the more drawn out songs on 10,000 days offer more than any of these did to me. Songs like Pt. 2 and Rosetta Stoned are among their best and most memorable. Though if you specifically liked the last few songs on 10,000 days then yeah you're probably gonna enjoy this one.
Loading...
05.09.2019 - 00:40
Batlord666
I've listened to a few times now, and honestly, pretty underwhelmed. It had exactly what I was looking for - long, brooding, mellow songs. But... The first five songs all follow a very similar structure. Each song, in a vacuum, is incredible. As an album, it's quite repetitive and feels like an overlong jam-session at times. The title track, Invincible, and 7empest are my favorite songs, definitely.
Loading...
05.09.2019 - 06:21
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by DeliciousDishes on 04.09.2019 at 01:38
I dunno even the more drawn out songs on 10,000 days offer more than any of these did to me. Songs like Pt. 2 and Rosetta Stoned are among their best and most memorable. Though if you specifically liked the last few songs on 10,000 days then yeah you're probably gonna enjoy this one.

I'm conflicted now. What makes 10,000 Days my favorite of theirs is the first 5 songs, plus Rosetta Stoned. The final 3 tracks and the instrumentals before Rosetta Stoned are unnecessary for me.

Guess I'll have to check this out sooner than later but it's already feeling like more of a task rather than something I'm excited about.
----
I have no memory of this place.
Loading...
05.09.2019 - 21:00
BitterCOld
waltrsobchakheit
Written by Troy Killjoy on 03.09.2019 at 05:20

Same. 10,000 Days is the only album of Tool I really enjoy so this might be more up my alley.


haha, that one was my least favorite of theirs. Enjoyed this more on the first pass through. Lateralus is still fave.
----
get the fuck off my lawn.
Loading...
06.09.2019 - 02:34
Mario Montes
It took me a long time to become a fan of Tool, I started liking some of their song after 3-4 years after the first listen. Now after the huge wait I'm trying to form an opinion on this just a few days after it came out...
Loading...
06.09.2019 - 06:31
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by BitterCOld on 05.09.2019 at 21:00
haha, that one was my least favorite of theirs. Enjoyed this more on the first pass through. Lateralus is still fave.

I'm definitely in the minority for preferring it to their other material, although I will admit to not having spent a lot of time with their back catalog. In high school I remember hearing "Schism" on the radio and loved it, decided to check the album out, didn't like it, and kind of had that exact outlook years after. 10,000 Days was the first album to grab me instead of just a song or two, but it did really start to wear on me by the end.
----
I have no memory of this place.
Loading...
16.09.2019 - 04:04
Ilham
Giant robot
I actually listened to this by proxy, as in my partner played it constantly because it's his favourite band. I have to say I really don't like Tool in general despite giving them several chances, mainly because the special someone doesn't get why I don't worship them.
But I seemed to have a less averse reaction to this album than the previous ones. It sounds a lil more mature and the vocals are a lil less "whiny". About 15-20 mins in, I do get a bit irritated after realising that we are barely at the third song. It felt like I really wanted some songs to just get to the point you know?
I don't really know what to think about those interlude thingies. They felt like they were placed in between very different songs just so it wouldn't be too jarring. Like a piece of pickled ginger in between two sushi of widely different tastes. So I get why they're there, but they still felt odd.
Loading...
16.09.2019 - 04:13
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by Ilham on 16.09.2019 at 04:04
I have to say I really don't like Tool in general despite giving them several chances, mainly because the special someone doesn't get why I don't worship them.

Wedding cancelled.
----
I have no memory of this place.
Loading...
16.09.2019 - 09:51
Daniell
_爱情_
Written by Ilham on 16.09.2019 at 04:04

About 15-20 mins in, I do get a bit irritated after realising that we are barely at the third song.

After 20 minutes you're at the second song, with still a few minutes till the 3rd
Loading...
16.09.2019 - 16:19
Ilham
Giant robot
Written by Daniell on 16.09.2019 at 09:51

After 20 minutes you're at the second song, with still a few minutes till the 3rd

Daaaamn, it's crazy how your perception of time changes when you're not having too much fun. I don't have the album so I was trying to ballpark it from memory.
--
Written by Troy Killjoy on 16.09.2019 at 04:13

Wedding cancelled.

Haha, we actually found *some* common ground when discussing the album. And I made up for not sharing his love for the band/album by introducing him to other bands that share some similarities with Tool, but that I enjoy much more. All's good
Loading...

Hits total: 8178 | This month: 8178