Tool and Fear Inoculated

Tool and Fear Inoculated

Tool fans have earned a reputation for being intense (and that’s little). There is a rumor that when Spin magazine was still a print publication, publishers received a letter a day demanding a story from the covers of Tool. I remember that the singer of a band of covers of that group once described me – with an otherwise friendly tone – the depth of his compositions, the scientific and philosophical breadth of the lyrics of the frontman Maynard James Keenan and he continued saying that the group was not mainstream and that is why, probably, he had not heard of them. I laughed without reservations.

There are many online jokes, mostly heavy, about Tool fans, but I’m going to point out a few things:

a) It is not fair to judge an artist only by his fan base .

b) After such a long drought, fans cannot be blamed for being a bit at the forefront.

c) I am not in a position to judge. I saw Tool a couple of months ago. I get it. Now that your catalog can finally be heard on streaming platforms , perhaps the band’s audience will increase with new “casual” followers.

Fortunately, for Tool and Bad Bunny fans alike, Fear Inoculum is the band’s first album in thirteen years … it’s definitely a new Tool album! And they, the fans, will be very deep in their own ass for several weeks, trying to decipher the hieroglyphs of inoculated fear.

Tool does not do it effortlessly. You always listen to the work. The long pause between 10,000 Days (Volcano II / Tool Dissectional) of 2006 and Fear Inoculum (2019) was due, in part, to the many projects of leader Maynard James Keenan (I still have to taste his wine), legal disputes (always a problem with this band) and to the perfectionist tendencies of Tool.

All the notes in Fear Inoculum , from the chaotic escape of guitarist Adam Jones exploding in “Descending” to the “bubbles” fluttering in the bass “Frankenstein” of Justin Chancellor in “Invincible” to the drummer of Danny Carey, with a sky full of patterning storms in “Culling Voices”, have been the subject of attention and refinement to the point that each song feels like a series of shapes that jump around a circle, which are continually reset at the correct angle, but Never in the place one expects.

Tool took a step forward in Ænima (1996, Zoo / BMG / Volcano), when they decided to be King Crimson finds Led Zeppelin of his generation, and now they have entered a classic rock phase, happy to refine their focus while attacking with a strength and insight that is only achieved with experience.

All the tools are here: long and winding intros that leave you waiting for the reward, modal interludes from the Middle East, time signatures that would confuse a Harvard or UNAM graduate , machine gun riffs , rapid fire machine gun that soon gives way a single lyric and guitar inquirers.

It seems that endless reworking paid off. In a strange way, this heavy metal album tramples all its enemies to death and moves mountains with its own hands. Fear Inoculum is Tool’s most rewarding job so far. Listen to the album until the end, as it flows beautifully, like an alternately serene river and catches unsuspecting.