/ Tool - Fear Inoculum

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MonkeyPuzzle 30 Aug 2019

It only took thirteen years but it was released today. Just on listen through number three.

Initial thoughts:

Wow. Musically ambitious is something that gets applied to Tool again and again and they've managed to outdo themselves once again from 10,000 Days. Invincible has the drums playing one time signature and the guitar and bass playing another, giving the effect of the two rhythms dancing round each other until coming back to the starting point before going their separate ways once more. Absolutely hypnotic. The opening, and title, track sets the tone for most of the album, with full on rock-out moments teased, promised, taken away and finally, but briefly delivered. More mellow overall than even 10,000 Days and dare I say it unashamedly proggy. If you're a Tool fan who prefers the harder, earlier stuff you might be in for a long ride. There is a proper payout in 7empest (track 7 on the CD release), which, while far from being simple, is a visceral, stomping crescendo for the whole album and fans of all eras of the band will love it, I'm sure.

There are seven tracks on the CD (more on that below) plus an extra three, all instrumental, on the digital version. None of the seven "proper" songs are less than ten minutes long, with 7empest clocking in at more than fifteen, with the instrumentals (which are proper tunes rather than the "filler" weirdness found on Aenima) hovering between 2-3 minutes ish in length. 

Production-wise, took me a couple of tracks to get into the vocal production which is subtly but noticeably different to previous albums, probably a little slicker but not to its detriment and sounds great. The production of the music is predictably crisp, the guitar, bass and drums sounds, well, like Tool with some really nice spacey synths sparingly applied.

A note/rant on release formats: I'm a Tool wonk but if you found me putting my hand in my pocket for the £80, 7-track, "Deluxe" CD version (yes it has a 36-page booklet, a 4" hd screen showing swirly pictures and a link to the digital version), then I cordially invite you to shoot me. There is no, repeat no, non-deluxe CD or any vinyl version on release or even announced for release. Fortunately I no longer own a CD player and so I'm not in the firing line for this pompous f*ckery, but still, lads, have a word with yourselves. $14 for the full ten tracks in FLAC format will do me fine, thank you.

Music-only, format-twattery aside: 9/10. That will only get higher on further listens, I can already tell.

alexm198 30 Aug 2019
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

Listened to it twice through today. First impressions are that it's a solid piece of work. Unmistakably Tool. Very technically tight (especially Danny Carey's drumming, as ever, holy shit). 

This will prove to be an unpopular opinion, I'm sure, but based on my two short listens today I just felt it didn't progress past 10,000 Days enough. Several of the riffs and rhythm sections of certain tracks felt recycled. And Adam Jones' guitar tone sounds almost identical to how it did back in '06. That's no bad thing, by itself, but I suppose I was expecting more of a leap forward in terms of their sound. Maybe my opinion will change after repeated listens!

For now, Lateralus remains the king of the Tool oeuvre by a long chalk. 

MonkeyPuzzle 30 Aug 2019
In reply to alexm198:

You're wrong; Adam Jones' guitar sounds the same as it did in '96 - that's his sound! Individually, the instruments are totally reminiscent of what they've been doing on Lateralus and 10,000 Days, but the arrangements, for me, are a definite step forward. I'd say that's best exemplified by Keenan's vocals becoming just another instrument and only used at need, rather than him feeling the need to be a "lead singer". On a separate note, I love the lyrics being about ageing and struggling with relevance and resilience; they're at least not trying to pretend to be the angry young men they were. I do miss a bit of the old Keenan lyrical sarcasm though.

alexm198 31 Aug 2019
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

That’s a good point, Maynard’s vocals are definitely more instrumental on this album. 

Re Adam Jones’ guitar tone: 4-minute mark on Pneuma — tell me that doesn’t sound exactly like the riff for Rosetta Stoned?! And the first three minutes really remind me of The Patient (no bad thing, probably my favourite Tool track!)

Anyway, had another listen through this morning and it’s already growing on me!

Post edited at 08:35
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

I found the album pretty disappointing. 13 years and it's just 10 tracks of self-indulgent soundscapery and almost no standout rock moments, very forgettable. 10,000 Days will always be their best work.

Tobes 31 Aug 2019
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

I own no Tool music-where would you recommend to start?

In terms of taste - The Mars Volta’s Frances the Mute as a point of reference if that helps. 


Post edited at 11:46
MonkeyPuzzle 31 Aug 2019
In reply to Tobes:

In terms of Mars Volta, the later the Tool album, the more Volta-ish it gets. Heavier than Mars Volta though, and comparatively the early records, Opiate and Undertow are relatively conventional hard alt-rock. Still cracking records though. Chronological order:

Opiate (EP) - Undertow - Aenima - Lateralus - 10,000 Days - Fear Inoculum

Tobes 31 Aug 2019
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

Great, cheers!

Will check out your recommendations.

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