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Tool - Fear Inoculum CD (album) cover

FEAR INOCULUM

Tool

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.73 | 199 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
4 stars New Tool. Enough said. Of course every proghead worth their salt should find themselves gravitating to this. 13 years later Tool return to the sound that have made them one of the most accomplished bands in recent years and Fear Inoculum does not disappoint as its Tool through and through. Some may argue its too much like old Tool but would you have it any other way. Too many bands try to reinvent their sound and end up destroying what they have. Tool sticks to their trademark sound and then takes us into another realm by the end of this 80 minute opus. The traditional sound is virtuoso musicianship by the drumming powerhouse playing of Danny Carey, the bass masterclass of Justin Chancellor, the guitar technical supremus of Adam Jones, and the clean reflective vocals of Maynard James Keenan.

It opens with Fear Inoculum and a droning buzz guitar heralds proceedings, slow and menacing like The Patient, and as brooding as anything from Lateralus so no complaints from me as i still regard that to be their quintessential masterpiece along with Aenima. The tribal rhythms and nasty bass sound permeate the album and are as good as it gets.

Pneuma follows with a showcase of musical excellence including a melting pot of acoustics, heavy bass, off kilter drum patterns careening into time sigs off the metronome from 5/8 to 7/4 and back to 4/4. The grunge guitar and clean vocals are a chemical balance that resonates perfectly. It ignites into a paroxysm of lightning guitar strikes with 3 chord structure and cymbal splashes. Chancellors bass is incredible 7 mins in and its so refreshing to hear a band experimenting with music the way Tool does. A masterpiece of the album for my ears.

Invincible is even longer at almost 13 minutes, opening with a finger picking solo that i would like to hear someone attempt in a guitar store. It builds gradually with some compelling lyrics about a warrior struggling to remain consequential. A reverb bass takes us deeper into the Tooliverse til it breaks into metal axe chops that slice up the atmosphere, joined by kalimba, didgeridoo and gamelan bells. The odd meter at 6 mins is complimented by a dirty guitar sound and the drums get frenetic with double kicks at the 8 minute mark. Spacey psychedelic vocals augment the trippy music and it gets heavier to its conclusion.

Descending has crashing waves intro generating an atmosphere of blissful isolation.The song begins gently with Keenan in a contemplative mood. The guitar polyrhythms are present and then it gets aggressive at 6 mins in, vocally and with amped up guitars, the type of sound on Parabola. This is dramatic, powerful, exceptional Tool.

Culling Voices starts quietly with angelic guitar picking and gentle vocals, singing Psychopathy misleading me over and over again, judge, condemn and banish any and everyone without evidence, only the whispers from within. Bass adds to the haunting ethereal atmosphere, and a guitar riff sounding similar to intro of Sabbaths Paranoid. The guitars are sharpened with a distorted edge and then it breaks down into reflective nuances with Keenan whispering Don't you dare point that at me. I wouldn't dream of it.

Chocolate Chip Trip is a low point of the album that fills like filler. King Crimson have done similar kanoodling with synths and gamelan bells or chimes, and i was not that impressed with that either. However the track is saved by Careys precise percussion which is killer and as a drummer i cannot help but to simply be in awe of his virtuosity.

Ok 7empest. This is the way to close an album with your best work. It is a 15 minute triumph of progalicious tempo switches, extended soloing, and virtuoso musicianship. It takes the album to another level. Its the go to track for anyone who wants to hear the new Tool. There are blazing guitar solos, tribal drum beats, impressive vocals, and dynamic bass lines. It took me back to the experimental brilliance of Lateralus. Jones is in full flight here as he unleashes fury on his guitar with incredible lead breaks and screaming wails that sound like a banshee. The bass pulsates like a rippling wind as the stormy guitars howl and strike into the heart of the beating drums. I am running out of superlatives. The lead guitar on this is phenomenal. The way Jones punishes his guitar at 7 minutes in is mind blowing. This must be rated as one of the greatest Tool tracks, showing that they still can produce masterful performances.

Of the other instrumental bonus tracks they are atmospheric and a bit weird, especially Mockingbeat not bird that is basically bird noises synthesized. They add nothing to the album which is already a decent enough length.

Overall Fear Inoculum is a great return for Tool, an immersive experience designed for headphones, ticking all the Tool boxes so should not disapoint, unless you are after another Lateralus which is possibly not going to happen. In any case the album delivers and is one of the stand out releases for 2019.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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