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TOOL - Fear Inoculum: Review

It’s been a long wait but the first Tool album in thirteen years is finally out in the wild.

Fear Inoculum has been well received by fans close to starved of Tool material for over a decade. Some claim this album is their best work yet, others may debate this statement but one thing is clear, Tool are back.

Fear Inoculum was preceded by the title track, released as the only single ahead of the album hitting shelves and having now spent time with the album it seems an odd choice of a single, possibly one of the more subdued tracks on the record. While it adds to the overall building of soundscapes that are evident on the album and a staple of Tool’s sound there are other tracks here that may have served as a better teaser, but this is Tool, and Tool only operate by their own rules.

As expected every track on Fear Inoculum is well constructed, incredibly tight and well polished. The album opens with the title track and holds itself back until things begin to pick up with Invincible but it still feels like Maynard could push through and really go for it but it’s clear that this is not the approach or the idea behind this album, instead we are presented with a sound that threatens to break out at any second but controls itself and remains in the exact space it wants to be in.

Descending is possibly the most melodic of the tracks and is incredibly strong, however it’s around here that strong relations to 2001’s Lateralus come in, in more places than one it feels like the album is just a beat away from hitting the chorus from Schism or Parabola.

Culling Voices is loaded with deep lyrics and continues the pace nicely, wrestle for top spot as the albums strongest point. Chocolate Chip Trip is an instrumental that allows Danny Carey to let loose and experiment with an extended drum solo or showcase if you like. Carey’s work needs little introduction and this incredible piece only goes to strengthen his claim to one of rock and metals best drummers of all time.

7pectrum is another strong contender on the album and holds well as a standalone track, it continues the trend of the number seven being engrained on Fear Inoculum (the album being recorded in seven for one thing). Again however it feels like the show should really kick into a higher gear but is held back deliberately to fit the vibe Tool have aimed for.

Overall this all works, a lot of what is found on the record was to be expected, while there are a few, small surprises, the album is less vocal, somewhat less progressive and less heavy but it still retains that trademark Tool sound.

Is it their best work yet? Personally, no, but it’s a matter of opinion, for me the definitive Tool album is the aforementioned Lateralus but that’s just me. Is it a good introduction to Tool? Seeing as it’s been thirteen years, there is most definitely younger metal fans out there that may have never heard Tool, Fear Inoculum is not the album you’d want to start with.

Fear Inoculum is out now on Volcano Entertainment and RCA Records

Rating 8/10