I am of course a fan of Tool's music, have been since I first heard their song "Sober" off of Undertow back in 1993. But I'm not a diehard fan. Maybe it's because it has been 13 years since their last release,10,000 Days is why I lost some interest in Tool, I don’t know. And to think of it, I think I’ve liked more songs by A perfect Circle then Tool to put it all in perspective, I guess. So, either way, here's my take of the new Tool album Fear Inoculum. But before I get started, honestly, you could have told me these new songs were from either of their previous two records, 10,000 Days or Lateralus, and I would have believed you. That shows you how much I remember about any of those songs from either of one of those albums. I know I might recognize a song or two if they came on the radio, but nothing stands out in my memory. Songs of theirs that stand out to me are "Sober," "Stinkfist," and "Forty Six & Two," and those songs came out over 20 years ago.
Let’s get on with the review, shall we? Well, I guess if you, the new or old listener, wanted Fear Inoculum to sound like Tool, well then, you're in luck, because it sounds exactly like Tool would sound like. And I'm sure if you could smell it, it would probably still smell like Tool, not that I want to know what really Tool smells like. But, if you wanted it to sound like something new and different like something amazing was pulled from out of nowhere, well my friend, you're not in luck. You’ll have a better chance of throwing a rock at your window and hitting it, then this new album hitting anything special. I am by far no music producer, sound engineer, or even close to being a musician, but there is nothing new, no different styles, no pushing the envelope anywhere in any direction on Fear Inoculum. There is no going against the grain anywhere on these ten songs, which I think quite a few of us wanted, but maybe that’s not what Maynard and the rest of the boys wanted to do on this record. Or, perhaps they thought they did, I don’t know. It's their band; it's their creation, I can't tell them what to do or how to write music. Like I mentioned in the beginning, if you had told me any of these ten songs were from 10,000 Days or Lateralus, again, I would have believed you, and then asked, when are we going to hear some new Tool music?
Let’s get this out of the way; I thought the four instrumental songs, "Litanie Contre la Peur," "Legion Inoculant," "Chocolate Chip Trip," and "Mockingbeat" were nothing spectacular, and in my opinion, should have been left off. Maybe Maynard guessed his fans would need to grab a snack or get another glass of wine made from his Caduceus Cellars winery, while listening to Fear Inoculum, and that’s why he put them on the record. Now, if you are a drummer, you might dig "Chocolate Chip Trip," but still, who wants to listen to a drum solo, really? Not all of us are drummers. Hey Danny Carry, try and top Bonzo's "Moby Dick" drum solo from Led Zeppelin II, and then you'll have my full attention.
Moving forward, the only song that stood out to me was "7empest." Now if the rest of the other nine songs were in this style and fashion, then yes, maybe this would have been a knock-out punch release for me. That was probably how I wanted, or was expecting the whole album to sound like, hard-hitting and in your face when I first listened to it. So, I guess you can add "7empest" to the list after "Sober," "Stinkfist," and "Forty Six & Two." I just listened to that song again, and it does really stand. Dang it Maynard, I wish the rest of the album was all like this song. Oh well, maybe on the next Tool release. Hopefully that's not in 13 years this time.
So, to sums things up, if I may. Fear Inoculum is by all well and means not bad, but it's not good either. My 'not good' more than likely will differ from what you might define as 'not good'. So, let’s meet in the middle and stick with Fear Inoculum is not bad. Maybe I should have just not have listened to all the media hype about it before it was released and then my expectations for it might have been lower. Perhaps Fear Inoculum will grow on me over time, or with several more listens, but I doubt that because I'll more than likely find another band to listen to before I listen to it again. But don’t worry, I listen to Liquid Metal on Sirius XM, so I’m sure I might hear another song or two from it again, but then maybe not, because other than those four instrumentals, the other six songs are over ten minutes long. Not quite your radio-friendly songs, even if it is a satellite station.
So, I will leave you with this, if at first, you wanted to press play on this record and have it open a dimensional rift in the space-time continuum, you might want to find something else to do instead. Just saying.
1. "Fear Inoculum" 10:20
2. "Pneuma" 11:53
3. "Litanie contre la peur" (instrumental; French for "Litany Against Fear") 2:14
4. "Invincible" 12:44
5. "Legion Inoculant" (instrumental) 3:09
6. "Descending" 13:37
7. "Culling Voices" 10:05
8. "Chocolate Chip Trip" (instrumental) 4:48
9. "7empest" 15:43
10. "Mockingbeat" (instrumental) 2:05