TOOL, the very name of the band to this day will still spark discussion. Whether it be about the band, frontman Maynard James Keenan, or his other projects, the legacy has always been as famous as this new album. After 13 years, the promise of a new album has been fulfilled. Fear Inoculum is a dark, trippy and delightful ride that any fan will love. Moreover, the musicianship and experience of the band is on full display here and the devil is in the details.
Right off the bat the title track is one that entrances you with a rather mysterious and cinematic intro. The dark hums go well with the various instrumental reveals before the track kicks into overdrive around the 1:30 mark. The track also solidifies the aesthetic of the album, tracks that are dynamic and evolve over their run time. Vocally, Maynard James Keenan can still deliver a fantastic and robust vocal performance. In this track he demonstrates both the softer and more harsh, iconic Tool vocals. The track is also very lyrically deep, telling a story of exhaling contagion and forgetting the words of deceivers and whispers of fear. Lines such as “exhale, expel, recast my tale, read my allegorical elegy” offer this insight along with many others that deserve a listen to experience. While the title track itself is fantastic, each track on this album is great. It is very well crafted, to the point where it forces one to take a look at it as a whole.
Each track is crafted with multiple changes in sound, aesthetic and moods in mind. To say each track has a personality is an understatement because each of them evolves throughout their run times. An example of this is in the first transition of the track “Invincible”, where a water drip style noise is flawlessly transitioned into the drums. Each track tells a story and has a specific, evolving aesthetic to it. The track “DESCENDING” is a great example of this idea, as it begins with a sort of underwater vibe before it goes into a dark and mellow track. This is before it kicks into overdrive around the 6 minute mark after an incredibly slow buildup beforehand. It matches well with the lyrics of the song, and makes the delivery of “sound the dread alarm, through our primal bodies” followed by “to be or not to be, rise, stay the grand finale” have the impact it needs. The tracks are all littered with these sorts of musical treats, layers of sounds and instrumentals on top of each other that make you smile when you hear them in action. It’s a quality that begs for multiple listens as you’ll want to hear everything and anything you may have missed on the first one. “7empest” is quite possibly the most noteworthy track on the album, however, as the guitar work on it is absolutely incredible. On an album with an immeasurable offering for the guitar lover, it’s the one that gives the instrument the most love and definitely a track any classic Tool fan will enjoy.
13 years is a long time to wait for an album. Not counting releases from projects inbetween, enigmatic frontman and wine connoisseur Maynard James Keenan has left his fans hanging for much longer than most artists are willing to commit to a project. Fear Inoculum sounds and feels like the result of this wait because it delivers. From start to finish this dark, trippy ride through the mind of Keenan and his band proves to be one that pushes the genre to its limit. The way each track comes together, evolves and changes through their run times is nothing short of incredible and speaks to the musicianship and mastery of the band. Give this one a listen, you won’t regret it.