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Tool Fear Inoculum album cover
3.69 | 343 ratings | 18 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2019

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fear Inoculum (10:20)
2. Pneuma (11:53)
3. Invincible (12:44)
4. Descending (13:38)
5. Culling Voices (10:05)
6. Chocolate Chip Trip (4:48)
7. 7empest (15:44)
- Video - Recusant Ad Infinitum

Total Time 79:12

Bonus tracks on Digital album:
3. Litanie contre la peur (2:14)
5. Legion Inoculant (3:10)
10. Mockingbeat (2:06)

Line-up / Musicians

- Maynard James Keenan / vocals
- Adam Jones / guitar
- Justin Chancellor / bass
- Danny Carey / drums & percussion

- Brian Lustmord / sounds & Fx (6)

Releases information

Artwork: Alex Grey

CD Tool Dissectional ‎- 19075-95055-2 (2019, US)

Digital album (with 3 bonus tracks)

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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TOOL Fear Inoculum ratings distribution

(343 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(34%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

TOOL Fear Inoculum reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lucas
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 'Fear Incolum' is the fifth Tool album, it comes 13 years after the previous one. The least we can say is that expectations were high regarding this long-awaited album. Despite all the excitement surrounding its issue, the only thing I hear is that Tool prove us that they are still Tool. This album can indeed be considered as "just another Tool album" in a career spanning already one generation, yet only a poor harvest (a mean of 1 album every 4 years). There is nothing, really nothing new under the sun. When you see that the majority of songs is 10 mn+ long, you expect great developments. Instead, you hear over and over Bozzio-esque drumming (circa The Lonely Bears sessions), at least during the first four songs, the overall impression being that the same song is repeated over and over (the "Holy Quaternity of Repetition"). The exceptions to this "Holy Quaternity of Repetition" are the 3 songs that follow them, namely the half-reflective "Culling Voices" (which nonetheless segues in the second half into that repeated drum-driven pattern of the first four songs), the annoying instrumental jam "Chocolate Chip trip" (that sounds really out of place on this album), and the angry closer, a sort of melting pot mixing the rage of their earlier alternative metal debuts, and the psychedelic/math developments of their later career. This album is good overall, but this is absolutely not essential in their discography. There is very little to be surprised with when you've already heard their other records.
Review by jammun
4 stars Well all, these days I come around here about as often as a new Tool album.

And we do have a new Tool album, Fear Incoculum. And upon listening you will immediately recognize it as such, which is to say this is a very good Tool album, as they all, to varying degrees, are. Perhaps it doesn't hit with same same punch as the first time I heard Aenima in the mid-90s, but I'm a bit older now, as is the band.

In some ways, it's a remarkable album, a sort of compendium of what a Tool album is. Don't expect any of the gut punches that were Prison Sex or Stinkfist, but you'll get the same riffage and atmospheric guitars (occasionally at the same time), the solid, probing bass, the drumming that is just this side of second to none. Maynard seems a bit more restrained, but he's been slowly headed that way since '96. These are all long songs, running into double digits, minute-wise, almost meditative, slowly unfolding and then wrapping around themselves and back again, like some new age yogic ouroboros shedding its skin, with mostly satisfying results. It seems I fall into the tracks, and the cracks within them, get lost a bit, and then come back home. That seems a reasonable thing to expect from good music.

I'm not going to touch upon each of the tracks, because these songs seem specifically designed to take each person on his or her own journey to the self.

So who's it for? Anyone who enjoys Tool's music will enjoy this one. It might make a good introduction to the band for the uninitiated since it covers most bases. For everyone else, I'd hope it's a excellent listen. You'll be disappointed if, when it was announced that Tool had come to see you after thirteen years and you'd answered the door, you had for some unknown reason expected someone different to arrive.

Review by Necrotica
4 stars Tool's fifth studio album is one of those projects that I don't think most people had much faith in. Over a decade was spent waiting for it, getting to the point where several memes online mocked the band for their inability to stay on the same page and get the record done. I get the feeling many of us thought it would go the way of Half-Life 3 and become the musical version of vaporware, and the constant rumor mill from the band and media wasn't convincing people otherwise. And yet? somehow, we actually made it. Fear Inoculum is out, and critics are already stumbling over each other giving the album (mostly) rapturous praise. Most of the public seems onboard for it too, giving kudos to the band for not missing a beat and swinging back stronger than ever. For the most part, I can agree with this.

Fear Inoculum is not the easiest experience to dive into; it runs at 80 minutes (86 if you're talking about the digital version) across only 7 tracks, which means almost every song is over 10 minutes. That's a lot to digest, and many of these songs run at very slow, almost doomlike paces. But, as usual for a latter-day Tool album, there's plenty of dense progressive metal to sink your teeth into. You'll find all the typical Lateralus-era stuff here; tribal rhythms, post-metal buildups and payoffs, subtle polyrhythms, and frequent dynamic ebbs and flows all make their way on this record. However, it's important to note that the buildups are much more lengthy and detailed this time around. In fact, I'm a little shocked that the title track was able to become a charting single, given the fact that the song doesn't really get off the ground until about halfway into its 10-minute runtime. I suppose that's the power of hype and expectations after such a long wait from the band's devoted fanbase! Anyway, these long runtimes work better for some songs than others; "Pneuma" and "Invincible" are fantastic examples of balancing their buildups and payoffs perfectly for emotional effect, especially in the way the latter combines triumph and resignation to flesh out the story of an "aging warrior" (see also: Maynard Keenan himself). The former presents itself in a darker and almost ritualistic manner, with Maynard repeating several lines over and over while the stuttering rhythms are constantly throwing you off in the process. Every time the heavy Drop-D riff comes in, it's a welcome release from the tension.

The band members themselves have clearly grown over the years, and they sound even more comfortable than ever when flexing their virtuoso muscles. However, one thing that I've always loved about Tool over the years is that they never really beat you over the head with their instrumental prowess, instead preferring to showcase their skills in more subtle ways; Fear Inoculum definitely sticks to this. Instead of doing a giant shred solo, Adam Jones might lay down some simple guitar chords that are played in a slightly off-kilter or wonky manner, such as he often does in album highlight "7empest." The entire song is like a giant experiment where the band members all try and see how many cool things they can do the metallic framework they're given, and the outcome is just phenomenal. As far as vocals go, Maynard is more reserved and introspective this time around; but given the structures and dynamics of the songs here, that's the perfect route to go. Plus, given his age, he still sounds excellent. Still, I don't think many people are going to doubt that this is absolutely a rhythm section-centric record. Justin Chancellor and Danny Carey absolutely tear up this album, providing both an incredible backbone and an infinite stream of ways that Adam Jones could work his guitar magic over them. "Chocolate Chip Trip" might be the most inconsequential and skippable song on the album in the grand scheme of things, but I still don't advise missing out on that sweet drum solo that Carey lays down on it. It's one of the great highlights of his recorded output.

So what's wrong exactly? Well, just one thing? and it's a pretty important thing. Let me start this off with a movie analogy: have you watched an actor that you can only see as that actor and not a character they're playing? A big example in my case is Tom Cruise. Every time I see him in a role, I just see Tom Cruise; I don't see a character, because Cruise just kinda overtakes the role itself. It's a really frustrating situation, because it constantly sucks me out of the immersion of a film when I can constantly see the "man behind the curtain." And unfortunately, Tool fall right into this trap. One of the things that made Lateralus and even 10,000 Days so great is that there was always that additional instrumentation that fleshed out the atmosphere of those records. There were always Jones' guitar pedals and a bunch of warbling industrial effects lending to the dark, eerie vibe Tool succeeded so well at crafting. Sadly, on Fear Inoculum I just hear 4 guys jamming out in the studio. The atmosphere is so empty and sparse on this album, and it doesn't help that there usually aren't many extra synthesizers or pedals to spice things up. That's not to say the entire record is like this; "Pneuma" has an excellent middle section with a buzzing electronic effect alongside some beautiful clean guitar melodies from Jones, and of course the tribal drumming in the majority of the title track is always welcome. But considering this is Tool's longest and most dense album, it would have been nicer to hear some more little touches to provide extra detail and texture to the experience.

Still, I'm really glad Fear Inoculum is finally here. I'm glad that we're finally able to let all the old memes and jokes about Tool's constant delays finally die. And unlike Duke Nukem Forever, we have a delayed product that's actually incredibly solid and worth the time it took to make it. If you enjoyed Tool's prog era, you'll most likely love what they did here. Fear Inoculum is the logical outcome of the band's constant flirtation with complexities and intricacies over the years, as well as how much they'd grown personally and creatively to get to this point in their lives. I can't say that this is a better album than Lateralus - which I still consider to be the band's gold standard - but it's definitely my second favorite of theirs so far. There's just too much ambition and quality songcraft here to pass up or ignore. So was Fear Inoculum worth the wait? I wholeheartedly say: yes.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by The Crow
3 stars We had to wait thirteen years for Tool to offer us the follow-up to the successful "10,000 Days" with this dense, simmering "Fear Inoculum".

Unfortunately, much of the grit of the past was lost on this record. It may be because of the lack of punch in Keenan's voices, or because sometimes it seems that we are listening to a rehash of previous albums.

The fact is that despite the undoubted quality of all the musicians, "Fear Inoculum" is the first Tool album that has hardly surprised me at all.

In any case, the return of this band is always cause for celebration. Let's hope it doesn't take so long for the next one!

Best Tracks: Pneuma (perhaps the best song, compositionally speaking), Invincible (my personal favorite) and 7empest (absolutely impressive guitars)

My Rating: ***

Latest members reviews

3 stars For a band with the stature that Tool has, writing my usual two-paragraph intro feels almost superfluous. They're one of the most popular progressive metal bands of all time; their first four studio albums all went platinum multiple times over and are critically revered. They mixed the darker sound ... (read more)

Report this review (#2903258) | Posted by TheEliteExtremophile | Friday, March 31, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Fear Inoculum is Tool's fifth album, it sounds like a simple statement but considering it came out 13-Years after 10.000 Days... It's a pretty important statement. After 13 years, you would expect a fresh Tool with new ideas and ways to impress people right? After all it's been thirteen damn yea ... (read more)

Report this review (#2486423) | Posted by Isaac Peretz | Sunday, December 20, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#2444381) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Thursday, September 3, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars There are three great pieces hidden in this over-long project: "Pneuma", "Invincible" and their masterpiece - "Descending". All the rest is not good enough. "Pneuma" is far from perfect but has that old Tool magic; it gives you the feeling of birth, that first breath of life, and it's even optim ... (read more)

Report this review (#2302605) | Posted by uribreitman | Monday, December 30, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars The fifth album came after a long wait, exasperating for many of whom are fans of this extraordinary group. I cannot deny that I had my doubts if a new album would finally be released. And of course, after so much waiting, and knowing that finally the album was released, the expectations were ve ... (read more)

Report this review (#2265023) | Posted by Hector Enrique | Sunday, September 29, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Tool heads have waited 13 years for Fear Inoculum. The largest burning question was whether it was worth it. No, it is not a perfect album, but yes, I would say that it demonstrates very clearly that Tool's genius never left them and that they are solidly among the brightest, most innovative spots ... (read more)

Report this review (#2262042) | Posted by steamhammeralltheway | Tuesday, September 17, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Asking whether it was worth waiting 13 years for a new Tool record is somewhat asinine. Afterall, almost nothing in life is worth 13 full years of your time. And no Tool record, no matter how simultaneously nostalgic and progressive it may be, would be worth that wait. But assuming you've spent the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2248652) | Posted by ssmarcus | Thursday, September 5, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Fear Inoculum's seven songs - which in digital format come with three more songs: "Litanie contre le peur", "Legion Inoculant" and "Mockingbeat", in practice three climatic and instrumental interludes - feature pretentious, original and hypnotic work . Six of the seven tracks exceed ten minutes ... (read more)

Report this review (#2247394) | Posted by saponaope | Saturday, August 31, 2019 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The first thing i tried to do is to put aside the tremendous amount of hype that had around my head over this new Tool album to get a more objective listening. It was really difficult though, because 13 years have passed and we diehard fans were really excruciated by this wait. On my first liste ... (read more)

Report this review (#2247286) | Posted by pzurden | Friday, August 30, 2019 | Review Permanlink

1 stars The wait and expectation around this album was the subject of many a meme across the years. Many were skeptical it would happen at all. Others, like me, were eager for the first few years, then essentially forgot and prepared for the worse as live snippets came out from here and there and promis ... (read more)

Report this review (#2247156) | Posted by handwrist | Friday, August 30, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Tool has been a band I've criminally ignored for lots of years. Knowing that they would launch a new album, in the last weeks I've decided to checkout their catalogue, starting with Undertow and then going upwards. I've also followed some debates about what people were thinking of the new release, a ... (read more)

Report this review (#2247144) | Posted by Deadwing | Friday, August 30, 2019 | Review Permanlink

1 stars This gets a giant "Meh" from me. I've listened to it several times through thinking it would grow on me. Nope. By my count there is exactly one good song on this record. If you pre-ordered this, prepare for disappointment. When I saw that there were six songs over 10 minutes long, I anticipated sk ... (read more)

Report this review (#2246437) | Posted by James007 | Monday, August 26, 2019 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After waiting a decade+ and being a tool fan since 92/93 i can honestly say i am overly satisfied with this album. I personally don't think there is a bad track on the album. Tool did a fantastic job with this and I think they should be proud. It's the Tool we've all grown to love, but matured more ... (read more)

Report this review (#2246274) | Posted by dmiranda | Sunday, August 25, 2019 | Review Permanlink

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