Album review: ‘Fear Inoculum’ by TOOL


TOOL 9/5

Max Lyman and Max Lyman

To many TOOL fans, the dream of the four members of the band coming together and releasing new material in a tangible form again is something that for years seemed so far out of reach. Even when updates would come out about the status of the album, I think no one could really say with certainty that TOOL was going to complete a fifth album. When one waits as long as TOOL did, one never wants to get their hopes too high with the thought of disappointment always looming in the back of the mind.

Thankfully, despite all of the mystery and doubt, the wait is finally over. After over thirteen years of rumors, reports, and teases during live shows, progressive metal titans TOOL released their long-awaited fifth studio album, ‘Fear Inoculum’. With so much time between releases, one can only imagine the hype and expectations that this album faces. While it isn’t perfect, ‘Fear Inoculum’ expands upon TOOL’s mythos sonically by giving fans almost an hour and a half of some of the most complex and memorable compositions, riffs, and drum beats the band has ever put out.

TOOL has always prided itself on musical complexity, intensity, and experimentation. All three of these elements are not only present in ‘Fear Inoculum’, but are pushed to their boundaries by the quartet to create what can only be described as a TOOL rock opera. With the exception of the instrumentals, none of the songs on the album are shorter than ten minutes. As wellknown as TOOL is for their progressive elements, they always have had at least a few songs on each record that have more “accessible”run times. Though certain sections of particular songs like “Pneuma” and “Culling Voices” feel as they could’ve been cut down a few bars, most of the songs don’t feel like they overstay their welcome.

As for the composition of the songs, TOOL fans may react positively to the album’s blending of familiar rhythms and riffs to the new mind-melting guitar and drum work that helps give ‘Fear Inoculum’ its identity. Vocalist Maynard James Keenan and guitarist Adam Jones sound sharper than ever, though the true star of the album has to be drummer Danny Carey. With Neil Peart having retired from playing drums, Carey is unquestionably the best drummer in rock right now. His rhythmic creativity and his control of double bass make for some absolutely awe-inspiring moments on the record, like “Chocolate Chip Drip”,and arguably help elevate the compositions to an even higher degree than what they already are.

In short, TOOL’s new record was 100% worth the wait. Is it perfect? No. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming compositionally and there are some sections on the record that may sound a bit too familiar. Despite the length and occasionally repeated elements, TOOL has gifted its fans with something truly special. It is an album that is instrumentally creative, unlike anything the band has tried before and manages to sound familiar and surprising in a way that only TOOL can. This is album is a lengthy experience;nevertheless, it is an experience TOOL fans do not wantto miss out on.