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Review: Tool – Fear Inoculum

by Darko Rajic

Tool – Fear Inoculum

1. Fear Inoculum
2. Pneuma
3. Invincible
4. Descending
5. Culling Voices
6. Chocolate Chip Trip
7. 7empest

Label: Volcano Entertainment / RCA Records
Date: August 30, 2019

“10000 Days” is the name of the album with which the Tool treated us thirteen years ago. Approximately half the number of those days was needed for the new fifth album, called “Fear Inoculum”, to see the light of day. A very long time period even for the band of this caliber, if we know how meticulous Tool can be when it comes to making an album. From music, to lyrics, all the way to the arrangements. Now… after years of dragging through the courts and tons of other problems, these four gentlemen finally managed to release a long expected opus, as some would say. It consists of 7 songs with almost 80 minutes of runtime. Digital version brings three bonus tracks, all of which are instrumentals. However, if you buy a CD, you will find the link for download there. So the album definitely has plenty of material.

You had an opportunity to hear some of the new songs on the recent concerts around the world, but it’s not the real deal until you play them in the comfort of your home, after you tune in your equipment for listening to the best quality because you’re listening to the new Tool album. It’s all great and the album starts. Songs after song, from monumentally long to one short song “Chocolate Chip Trip” of not even 5 minutes of runtime. The song is actually Danny’s playing and old-fashioned electronic sounds, which remind of video games from the 80s, encompassed with gong strikes. Because it is not already known that Danny is an excellent drummer, he has to show it off a little to ordinary mortals. His craftsmanship, as well as the craftsmanship of playing other instruments, along with Maynard’s vocals is not questionable.

However, we come to the product of that craftsmanship. The album, the music, the songs, the arrangements, the ideas… therefore, the final product, which was waited for a long time. Way too long, creating a myth of itself with numerous announcements throughout the years along with millions of jokes on the account of the album’s release. Human nature, nothing can be done against it. Or can it? 🙂

Last time, this way was awaited the infamous album of Guns N’ Roses. We all know which one, don’t we? It can be said that this is the only connection between the albums. Maybe because Tool is a completely different band with a completely opposite musical philosophy from the aforementioned hard rockers. On “Fear Inoculum”, it can clearly be heard.

Seven songs with a length of almost hour and a half, which makes me happy, because I’m expecting monumental and grandiose themes, falling from a chair and loud shouting of their name while putting them on the throne of saviors of the music industry. But there is nothing of that. There is no point to write about the previous album now, but one thought is running through my head. Tool is hardly going to surpass it, even though releasing albums is not a competition. At least not to me. After “Lateralus” and a heavenly status cemented with “10000 Days”, fans expected some aliens on this album, you could say. There are none. No weird signals are coming out, they are not hypnotizing anyone, no wonders are happening. On first, second, third and other listens, I’m getting an impression that Tool went two steps back. All the way back to “Lateralus”, to songs they didn’t put on that album, but saved them for the later. And then put them out after many years, modified them a little, put a small whiff of Kraftwerk in some songs with analog synthesizers and added a few solos in manner of heavy metal giants form the 80s. Then nicely packed them in the shiny paper, pump them up to the maximum and throw them out to the light of day just to take the heavy load off their backs to the delight of the fans. Musical quality of this band is indisputable, but the final product is very confusing. I read a whole variety of comments from devout all the way to insulting, reasoned and nonreasoned, smart and stupid. Maybe mine is also stupid, but it is mine. 

So… Summa summarum… New Tool is finally out, everyone satisfied, some less. I am one of those “less satisfied”. Somehow I was expecting something like this, but there you go. They are better live band after all and hardly anyone can compete with them on that level, so catch Tool live, it’s definitely worth it. For the disappointed ones there are previous albums to find solace in. Others… Enjoy, you’ve earned it after so many years of waiting.

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