One listen is not enough
While 13 years is an agonizing amount of time to wait, Tool’s fifth studio album, Fear Inoculum, is 100 percent worth the wait. Their last two releases (Lateralus and 10,000 Days) were major success for the band and this album continues on this trend. With a run time of about an hour and a half (digital version), six of the ten tracks exceed ten minutes with the remaining four all being instrumental.
Prior to this album, the band only had one or two songs on each album that breached the ten-minute marker. Choosing to have all songs containing lyrics be past that and up to 15 minutes long is a bold move that Tool pulls off well. Within each lengthy track, listeners can appreciate different developments within individual tracks.
The opening track, the album title song (“Fear Inoculum”), transports listeners into the enticing nature displayed throughout Fear Inoculum. All elements—guitars, vocals, drums and effects—gradually build and Maynard James Keenan’s vocals are raw and powerful. The lulling pace and chanting-like sections create chills from the first word.
Guitarist, Adam Jones, revealed to Revolver that the number seven is a crucial component of this album. In the physical edition, there are seven tracks and throughout the songs there are riffs in notes of seven as well as one counted in 21 (three sets of seven). Fans should expect to see themes of the numbers even in future music videos as well. Knowing this, it’s no surprise that “7empest” is the stand out song of the album.
As the longest song of the album at almost 16 minutes, “7empest” is filled with dynamic solos and Keenan’s voice catches a growly edge to it compared to other songs such as “Invincible” and “Culling Voices” in which his voice is high pitched.
Each song can be praised for anything and everything like “Pneuma” with its hauntingly enticing guitar that enhance the passionate vocals and “Descending” that starts softly with the sounds of waves hitting the shore, but the building drums takes the song to another level. “Chocolate Chip Trip” has a fitting name with its various sounds that blend and mesh together to feel like a funky trip.
Overall, Fear Inoculum makes it seem as if 13 years did not pass and Tool just picked up right from their last release. The prog-metal band continues to defy boundaries and deliver engaging songs that, despite their length, keep people hooked until the last note. Ultimately, one listen is not enough and fans will find themselves hitting repeat. Each listen-through gives people more insight and with so much going on in the album, as well as individual songs, the album deserves multiple listens.