Tool’s Fear Inoculum: A steady space race that requires you to think


The “tardiness” of this album review is justified. If Tool’s history is any indication, it would have been safe to assume this album was going to destroy a listener’s comprehension of existence, especially since the band has had thirteen years to make it. Lead vocalist Maynard James Kennan also encouraged listeners to actively listen and take time to digest Fear Inoculum. Here’s what he said to Revolver magazine earlier last month:

“There’s gonna be a lot of people who might not get this album because it does take engagement. if you don’t have the patience for that, you’re probably not gonna get this album.”

I took the time, shut everything off, and listened to the album multiple times, unlike some of the more prominent reviewers who vomited their thoughts only two hours after the work was released. 

To put this album into terms that even I can understand; it is a beefy six-layer burrito, with an emphasis on the beef. I

Tool’s Fear Inoculum is commanding in its delivery while abandoning all measurements of time and space. A common complaint is the large runtime of each track, which already weeds out those who simply do not understand. It is not about the length of each track or even the track’s name, but rather the journey through a place of intricately devised wisdom. Even with Tool finally releasing their catalog to digital streaming, the band has released one of the most “anti-streaming” albums to date. It is possible to chop it up into singles, but certainly not advised. Tool responded to the new world of music distribution the only way Tool could, by not obeying its rules.

The finest area of the album is labeled “Pneuma”, which from a philosophical standpoint translates to “the vital spirit, soul, or creative force of a person.” This piece is just as enigmatically heavy as it sounds, an uplifting and reflective trip with yet another godly Tool riff to place on the cluttered mantle. 

Throughout the album with an 86-minute runtime, listeners are given more soft-pedaled vocals from Keenan, somewhat contrasting from the occasional screams of yesteryears. Of course, there were complaints, mostly from those who seem to forget that the musician has been actively flexing his chords since 1984 (that’s ten years before Justin Bieber was even born).

Idiots also said that Fear Inoculum had “too many instrumentals.” (A gripe that I will not even entertain with a response).

The last time Tool released new work, Steve Irwin still had four months left on Earth. In the truly unlucky thirteen years since, anticipation has built and the hype for the next album bloated beyond belief. The next album finally arrived, and Fear Inoculum has since feasted on the hype. The long trek to get to this point is represented in the album itself; a vigorously patient drift towards an audible holy land – a gold-plated zenith of a place where time is irrelevant. What now? 

As of Monday, September 9th, Fear Inoculum has debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200 chart, the third consecutive Tool album to do so.

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