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Tool - Fear Inoculum CD (album) cover

FEAR INOCULUM

Tool

 

Experimental/Post Metal

3.73 | 263 ratings

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dougmcauliffe
5 stars When this album came out I watched a vocal group of Tool fans tear it to shreds and endlessly crap on it. Was it really a big disappointment? A stinker perhaps? Or was it just that it could never live up to the hype and expectations in the heads of Tool fans after over a decade wait? All of that is irrelevant to me, general consensus is determined by the first people to put their opinions out there. That or reviewers on the internet with influence (Anthony Fantano gave this album a 4/10). When this album came out nothing by this band ever did anything for me, and I really tried. However, this album swept me off my feet and continues to do so today easily cementing itself as my favorite Tool record. I've come around a bit to Aenima and Lateralus, but I don't often sit through those albums front to back. If I want to hear Tool, this is what i'm reaching for an overwhelming majority of the time. This is a cohesive and dense album with nearly every track stretching over 10 minutes taking you through these polyrhythmic mazes of unconventional riffage and incredibly developed drumming. On this album Tool has mastered the art of subtly sleekly building up each song taking you on a journey into the depths of a very dark place. The production is ear candy with these crisp and layered electronics, clear and punchy bass, incredible drum sound and a simply nasty guitar tone. The title track kicks things off with this brooding and menacing introduction that just gets me fired up with these kinda tribal-esque drums and reverberating bass all around you. The vocals hit you in flowing waves while the guitar teases you in the background. The song reaches a satisfying and powerful payoff eventually transitioning into twisting and more striding passage in the second half. For the final minute and a half they start firing on all cylinders with great aggression and intensity ushered in by filthy guitar tones. The second track Pneuma is my favorite on the album, it melts my brain every single time. It opens with this earthy and more free flowing introduction kicking into amazing and complex bass and guitar riffage enhanced by the drum parts accompanying and playing around it. The chorus is just head-bobbing ecstasy. At around the 6:08 mark it kicks into this indescribable passage with steady electronic drumming and penetrating face-melting synths/electronics. Every time I hear those drums fade in I can't help but smile, there's something so psychedelic about this passage as layers upon layers stack and soar around you. This leads back into the main riff, now heavier, faster, and slightly altered concluding on an explosive note. Invincible opens with windy riffage while the other instruments set the stage and play around this lead guitar line. For several minutes this song quietly grows until the band is coming in full power underneath a memorable hook. They break into a thundering instrumental break briefly before kicking back into that chorus which leads right back into another incredible instrumental playout where the drumming is just baffling. Those tasty electronics join back in with these hypnotic vocals mid way through this jam. The song reaches an intense crescendo reprising the intro guitar riff at full force. I found this song to be more of a slowburn and one that really grabbed me after a few listens. Descending is possibly the least conventional song here opening up with a few minutes of these ineffable and subtle instrumentals melting, or properly descending around you. I just don't understand how people can reach this level of musical creativity. It's the point where I struggle to even write about this track because there is just so much going on at all times, the meter is completely off the charts while never sounding forced or out of place. Culling Voices has these more melancholy guitars starting the song off. The vocals join in creating one of the more minimal and intimate feeling moments on the album. While to vocals are delivered with great emotion, the guitar contrasts it with a more off kilter and slightly uncomfortable choice of notes and chords playing beneath it. This meditative section goes on for quite a while actually really taking its time and when the rest of the band comes in, it doesn't immediately explode into a fiery jam like you would expect. Rather they kinda contribute to the already existing somewhat droning feel of the track. At 6:33 things noticeably pick up before reaching that big heavy pay-off you could feel coming. Chocolate Chip Trip is a bizarre somewhat avant garde electronic backed drum solo like nothing else I've ever heard. This unorthodox atonal electronic melody pierces in and remains a constant as Danny Carey goes absolutely ham alongside it. The track eventually sorta fizzles out. 7empest is the closing track and it's really just exciting start to finish. Out of all the songs this one is the most immediately heavy and "straight out the gate swinging." It opens with a short little picked guitar riff with what sounds like an electric harpsichord (my best guess) accompanying it. Soon after it drops into an awesome looming riff with the vocals following thereafter. Of all the songs on the album this one to me sounds the most like some of the material off whats generally considered the classic tool albums with its alternative metal tinge in the vocals. I love the kind of alarming guitar section that starts at 5:38 playing on top of a headbanging rhythm section. This extended solo really develops seamlessly leading into the next section of the song with some harder hitting slightly harsher vocals. The passage straight out of this is glorious with its trash-crash symbol and groovy guitar/bass riff. The finish to this song is great as it eases and settles out of the heaviness combining both a reprise of the opening section with the rhythm section playing another riff from the song on top of it. It took me a bit to pick up on this but it's very creatively done. It's a really fantastic conclusion to this staggering album.

I bow to no one, I love this album. I rarely sit down and listen to albums start to finish that stretch over an hour, but at about 80 minutes, this proves to be an exception to that. I don't know what else to add, it's just creative, massive, rewarding and flat out awesome music. I was not a Tool fan until I heard this album but even with that it proved to be a very challenging undertaking that I still am continuing to wrap my head around with each successive listen. Do not enter this album with any preconceived notions based on some of the stuff you can hear on Rateyourmusic or Tool forums. Give this album time and it will reveal itself.

dougmcauliffe | 5/5 |

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