It’s finally here! Today, August 30th 2019 Tool finally released their latest masterwork – Fear Inoculum. I’ve had a few days to digest this now, and figured to celebrate I’d throw together some words in the way of a review.
The title track is the first on the album, and also the first released. I’ve reviewed this one already, and my opinion on the track hasn’t changed a heap. It’s a solid Tool track, and has some really cool moments.
Such an amazing track this one. It seems to almost blatantly rip off Schism and The Patient, but then Maynard swans in an adds some of the more sublime, harmonic and hypnotic vocals on the album. All capped off with some wonderful guitar solo work from Adam at the crescendo. Probably my favorite at this stage.
Out of the two tracks debuted live earlier this year, I’d have said Invincible was my favorite, but on the album it’s come off second best to Descending. It lacks a little energy from the live version, and I’d have loved the bass to be a little higher in the mix. Still, I thoroughly enjoy the track!
Litanie contre la Peur
The first segue on the album, is a synth heavy piece which if memory serves was used during the album release date banner at recent live shows
I was really keen to see how this track turned out one record, since as epic as it was live, there I never felt like Adam, Danny and Justin quite nailed the epic end of the song. Of course they do on the album, and while I’d have loved the gong to be a bit louder, this is one of my favorites.
A more bass heavy interlude, once again electronic in nature. Sounds like some Maynard whispers throughout as well, but I think they are cuts from the title track
A very interesting track – I love the almost acoustic first half. Maynard’s singing and harmonies are fantastic. When Justin starts working his way into the track, it’s sublime. But then the final heavy riffs kick in, and it feels a little ho-hum. Probably the weakest track on the album.
Chocolate Chip Trip
Danny’s contribution to the segues on this album is unsurprisingly a drum solo melded with some synth bleeps and bloops.
A relatively innocuous start soon turns into a lengthy guitar driven epic, complete with the “angriest” vocals we get from Maynard this time around. Strongly driven by Adam’s guitar work, and a neat double kick based drum “riff”, this track loses momentum a touch in the middle I reckon, but is still one of the more compelling parts of the album.
Is it a bird? Is it a monkey? Is it feedback of some kind? More light voices on this track. An odd way to end the album
I’m really pretty happy with this album. It’s only natural over the course of a 13 year wait to wonder if the album will be just another Chinese Democracy. Thankfully it’s a long way from that. It’s a nice sounding album – Joe and Tool have done a great job in the studio, though my most common gripe is that Justin is a little further back in the mix than I’d like. Given that Adam rocks so hard, and really pushes his guitar playing, that’s not a huge surprise, but still, I love to hear a bit more Justin in the mix.
Speaking of Adam, his solo work is pretty stellar this time around. He’s really honed his craft over the years, and some of the tones on the solos really hit the mark.
To hear Danny drumming as well as he ever has, is very pleasing to my ears. He’s starting to get on a little now old man Danny, but he drums like he’s not a day older than he was recording Aenima.
Many were curious to see how Maynard would be on this album. Much was made of his lack of screams, his perceived disdain for Tool fans, and even seemingly Tool at times. No doubt Maynard’s work will be one of the more controversial points of this album, but for me I have no problems with his work. He’s not attempting to belt them out like he did back in the day, so we have a different vibe this time around. His lyrics are fine, and I reckon some of the harmonies he’s produced are as good as any we hear in APC or Puscifer.
Tool albums grow on us, we all know this, however this one sits well with me right away. Does this influence where it’ll sit in their catalog? Perhaps. This is a deep album, and I’m loving peeling back the layers as I do on all Tool releases. It’s hard to give this a rating, but since it’s a review I shall. I’d put it at around an 8/10 for now, which to me puts it about on par with 10,000 Days, but a little below Aenima and Lateralus. It’s impossibly hard to do a comparative review to 20 year old albums with so much emotional attachment, so take my review with that in mind.
Overall though, after 13 years am I happy? Yes – very much so. This has been worth the wait, and that’s about all that counts.