Review: Fear Inoculum

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.

Fear Inoculum

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.

Pneuma

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.

Invincible

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

Descending

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.

Legion Inoculant

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

Culling Voices

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.

7empest

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.

Mockingbeat

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

General thoughts

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.

Summary

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.

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itoolizer
itoolizer
9 months ago

Your take on Pneuma is not a review though. You accidentally cut and pasted your introduction…

Z-Werewolf
Z-Werewolf
Reply to  itoolizer
9 months ago

HAHA! First thing I noticed.

itoolizer
itoolizer
Reply to  hellboy1975
9 months ago

Also my favorite track… At the current moment!

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  hellboy1975
9 months ago

You also wrote ‘Here’, instead of ‘Hear’ in the section… “His lyrics are fine, and I reckon some of the harmonies he’s produced are as good as any we here in APC or Puscifer.”
This is frustrating for me to read.
And if you are planning on correcting this I would appreciate it if you could remove the word “Puscifer” from that sentence too.

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  hellboy1975
9 months ago

Thank you for correcting the spelling 🙂

Nostrenominon
Nostrenominon
Reply to  Maynerd
8 months ago

jesus you sound like a cuck. what’s wrong with puscifer now?

itoolizer
itoolizer
9 months ago

Can anybody explain to me how to get our digital download? The address on the download card sends me to a web page that asks for a user and password! WTF?!

Whisp
Whisp
Reply to  itoolizer
9 months ago

Yeah no idea. More poor planning by someone, somewhere..

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  itoolizer
9 months ago

This will change when it is 30th of August in Los Angeles, California.

Whisp
Whisp
9 months ago

If you’re in Brisbane rocking horse in the city still has like 25 copies when I was there. $185. Also picked up some more vinyl. Can’t help myself.

bent eye
bent eye
Reply to  Whisp
9 months ago

$185!!! That’s just insane.

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  bent eye
9 months ago

Even worse… Current bid AUD $255 on eBay with 24hrs to go on bidding.

bent eye
bent eye
Reply to  Maynerd
9 months ago

I just had a peek at ebay. These sellers are probzbly dodgy as fuck. They don’t even have the CD yet and are waiting for suppliers to supply them. No way would I be handing money over to them.

Whisp
Whisp
Reply to  bent eye
9 months ago

Yeah should mention that’s 185 AUD for those playing in the US

Nostrenominon
Nostrenominon
Reply to  Whisp
8 months ago

that’s amazing. i bought the deluxe version on amazon for like $45 and after it sold, Tool lowered the price to like $35 and amazon refunded me like $10. Pretty sweet for the deluxe version, showed up on my door the morning of the 30th. best day of the year so far lol.

CaptBlood
CaptBlood
Reply to  Whisp
9 months ago

Looked online and there’s nothing. Guess you have to be lucky and walk in. I went to the local JB and they’re devastated as well, beyond disappointed at the way this has been handled. Fortunately the album is absolutely unbelievable.

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  CaptBlood
9 months ago

Jbhifi had none? Did they have any at 9am?

CaptBlood
CaptBlood
Reply to  Maynerd
9 months ago

They didn’t get any and haven’t been told why or if they’ll get any more.

bent eye
bent eye
Reply to  CaptBlood
9 months ago

I popped into JB on my way to work in inner city Melbourne and the guy loading up the CD shelves said they have no physical copies to stack and won’t be getting any for some time. He said no stores have them to sell except fulfilling pre-orders.

CaptBlood
CaptBlood
Reply to  bent eye
9 months ago

What a complete ballsup. Someone at Sony should be fired for this. In fact fire em all!

bent eye
bent eye
Reply to  CaptBlood
9 months ago

Yeah it’s ridiculous.

nemesis
nemesis
Reply to  bent eye
9 months ago

They announced the album date weeks and weeks ago, the 30th comes around and there is no vinyl, no standard CD and not enough overpriced (in Australia) special edition CDs. Ridiculous.

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  hellboy1975
9 months ago

I recommend a new thread regarding the info we have on the issue.
This will allay the influx of questions that are already occurring, and are surely incoming over the next days, weeks.

bent eye
bent eye
Reply to  hellboy1975
9 months ago

Exactly. A simple statement from the record company would go a long way right now. Something along the lines of “due to unprecedented demand…” or something along those lines. I honestly can’t believe they didn’t anticipate this to begin with.

Maynerd
Maynerd
9 months ago

Well now that I’ve heard the other segues I’m inclined to state that in comparison, CCTRIP is pure genius.
SMFH.

itoolizer
itoolizer
Reply to  Maynerd
9 months ago

Where do we hear the segues? I have the physical copy, and can’t even get the website to work. Are you in the USA?

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  itoolizer
9 months ago

They were leaked 10+ hours ago. Kingdom Leaks.
They are also on the band’s YouTube page, but that may only be for me because I am in Australia and it is the 30th here.

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  itoolizer
9 months ago

Trust me, you don’t need to hear them.
Very dissatisfied with them.

bent eye
bent eye
Reply to  Maynerd
9 months ago

The segues aren’t that bad. Very sci-fi sounding being mostly electronic.

sularetal
sularetal
9 months ago

Friends, this album is a masterpiece. I’m on the tail end of a journey on 2 grams of golden teacher to celebrate it’s release. I highly recommend experiencing it in this manner … every song transported me to a different dimension. A truly cathartic experience. I’m in awe. Thank you, TOOL!!!

Maynerd
Maynerd
9 months ago

We now have confirmation that the album is on all streaming applications.
All old video clips have been revealed on YouTube etc…

Whisp
Whisp
Reply to  Maynerd
9 months ago

Plot twist: Maynerd is Hellboy’s cynical alter ego, providing balance to Fourtheye.

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  Whisp
9 months ago

Information like that getting out could be devastating.
All jokes aside, Hellboi could benefit greatly from making me a moderator here.
In fact I feel it would be welcomed.

BellJH
BellJH
9 months ago

7/10 from me. It would have been a 9/10 if at least some of the songs were a bit more focused and less meandering from an instrumental point of view. Maynard has great vocals and lyrics in some places (think last section of 7empest) but in other places he misses the mark (think last section of Invincible, he did this with way more emotion and power live – but failed to capture this in his home studio). There are moments of absolute brilliance in this album from all 4 members, some of their finest work, but it doesn’t maintain this… Read more »

CaptBlood
CaptBlood
9 months ago

Well after originally pre-ordering on Amazon and seeing nothing happen, ignoring JB due to their insane price. Getting shafted along with everyone else who used Utopia (not their fault). I’ve succumbed and bought for $160 AUD anyway via Discogs. Sony can FRO!

bent eye
bent eye
Reply to  CaptBlood
9 months ago

Mate, you have to do what you have to do. I just got the shipping email from Amazon so will get mine in 2 weeks.

CaptBlood
CaptBlood
Reply to  bent eye
9 months ago

I just got the email also. I guess I panicked. Oh well one will stay mint.

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  CaptBlood
9 months ago

How much did shipping cost?

bent eye
bent eye
Reply to  Maynerd
9 months ago

In total $75 AUD

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  bent eye
9 months ago

My question was for CaptBlood. However, it seems like you got a slightly better deal. Lol.

bent eye
bent eye
Reply to  Maynerd
9 months ago

LOL

CaptBlood
CaptBlood
Reply to  Maynerd
9 months ago

Shipping was $14 USD, the CD was $80 USD.. I’d given up, lost at Utopia, silence from Amazon. Guess I’d be shithouse at poker. The Amazon shipping notification came through a few hours later. Guess there’s worse things to blow money on.

Maynerd
Maynerd
Reply to  CaptBlood
9 months ago

You’ll be able to get your money back on eBay. People are willing to pay $300+ for a copy. Insane.

CaptBlood
CaptBlood
Reply to  Maynerd
9 months ago

Yeah it’s absolutely insane. In hindsight I got a bargain. LOL

lukas
lukas
9 months ago

it surprises me that you are missing some bass in the mix, hellboy. i had the impression that justin is particularely present in this album.

Laos
9 months ago

Seriously great songs – all of them!

Their catalogue is so diverse and I love that they have steered down the path of long, heavy and epic. Bring on the dates so I can fly over to see a few – Superb! \../

disog
disog
9 months ago

seriously tasty hi res version of whole album doin the rounds. Will suffice until pre order comes thru!

Maynerd
Maynerd
9 months ago

Tour Dates…
comment image

BeyondZero
BeyondZero
9 months ago

Anyone get the DLC in uncompressed wav? Seems counter intuitive to release something as mp3…

Freakasaurus
Freakasaurus
9 months ago

Spot on review IMO. Pretty much exactly how I feel. Overall, a quality TOOL album but not on the Aenima level. I’m glad it was finally released and it’s more of a “just hit play and let it all unfold” than some of their earlier work where you could just rock out to one of their songs for 5 minutes if you wanted. I’m REALLY psyched about the tour and there being 4 shows within a couple of hours of where I live. I definitely plan on catching the 2 NJ shows and doing at least 1 VIP, if possible.… Read more »

Jus4midabl1974
Jus4midabl1974
9 months ago

First off I just want to say this is my first time posting on Fourtheye. And I’m glad I finally subscribed! I’ve wanted to for a while. And now that the album has dropped it was time. For years I was on Kabir’s Toolshed every single day and now the last three years I’ve been on Fourteye EVERY DAY! Hellboy you run a great site for us Tool fans! And I especially love the end of year top 10 albums. You’ve turned me on to great music that I never would have discovered! Thank you! I’ve been lucky enough to… Read more »

jadrianjadrian
jadrianjadrian
8 months ago

After multiple listens, this totally strikes me as their Presence, Who By Numbers, Tormato or even Monolith (Kansas).

Not necessarily a bad thing.

nemesis
nemesis
8 months ago

…. so it’s just over a week since I first heard the album… I think I’m already sick of it. There is not enough Maynard, and not screaming Maynard, just Maynard, it’s like the album was written with him not in mind.

Also, long Tool songs are fine, Pushit, Third Eye, Lateralus, Rosetta Stoned… but none of the new songs come close to these in quality.

There is nothing on Fear Inoculum I’d want to see played live.

Whisp
Whisp
8 months ago

So this distortion sprinkled heavily over the album is still grinding my gears. I’ve seen multiple reddit threads about it now so I know I’m not going crazy… except I am… how the HELL could they have overlooked this, it ruins pivotal moments in songs and breaks my focus constantly throughout the tracks. Joe Barresi has to answer for this.

Whisp
Whisp
Reply to  hellboy1975
8 months ago

If I put my frustration aside. You’re right. They’re the ones who sign off on it. Which confuses me more as to why it sounds like this. Most Tool fans will say Lateralus or Aenima is there favourite record. I’m in the Lateralus camp, and even I will agree that sometimes the recording sounds too clinical, like they literally recorded scrubs on, in an operating theatre. However that is far and away better than what we have here. I really genuinely have come to love this whole album. If I could hear Adam say ‘Yes, this was a conscious decision… Read more »

Subjective Realism
Subjective Realism
Reply to  Whisp
8 months ago

Odd Whisp, I quite find the recording on FI to be one of the best they’ve done, certainly miles better than Opiate or Undertow. The soundstage is wider, bigger than on previous Tool recordings, although close to 10K Days, the dynamics play as well as on Lateralus (my cdp is HDCD compatible) and the instrument separation and tone are spectacular. I’ve played it loud and quietly several times now and cannot find any gripes with the sound other than the (odd) intentional herky-jerky nature of the softer guitar parts in Culling Voices. All listening done via cd through a dedicated… Read more »

Whisp
Whisp
Reply to  Subjective Realism
8 months ago

Oh don’t get me wrong. Dynamics = great, soundstage = great, audio distorting all over the record for whatever reason = not great. I posted specific examples in the album leak thread, but honestly, if you don’t hear it then I wouldn’t go looking for it. The glass will be shattered.

Nostrenominon
Nostrenominon
8 months ago

You think they didn’t nail the end of Descending live as much as they did on the album? Wtf are you talking about? Every time I listen to the album version of Descending I’m left empty at the end because you can’t even hear Danny’s blast beats like you can live. The first listen of the album I thought my friends stereo was broken because i couldn’t hear danny doing that insane blasting, then i got home to my computer and realized that’s how the album sounds. I don’t know if they just messed up live and made that sound… Read more »

Nostrenominon
Nostrenominon
Reply to  hellboy1975
8 months ago

you know what I’m talking about. near the end of descending.

Nostrenominon
Nostrenominon
8 months ago

So I was under the impression that there would be a normal fear inoculum cd to buy for a normal price. Is there seriously only a “deluxe edition” cd? No 11.99 regular album package with just the CD in it? Is Tool planning on releasing a normal cd package or what, because not everybody can afford to pay $60 for a CD but want CD quality, even though i bought the deluxe version, my friends did it and were wondering why tf they couldn’t just go pick up a normal cd in target or something. wtf