Thirteen years is a vast passage of time. Since May 2, 2006 (when TOOL released its fourth studio album 10,000 Days), the U.S. elected and re-elected its first African-American president, Barack Obama. The sports world saw historic curses broken, the world tilted on its axis a bit when we lost a few musical heroes, and — staying in the music world — we said goodbye to compact discs almost completely as the music world has done virtually a full-on shift to digital. And, in an effort to more effectively reach and connect to their audience, TOOL made its entire catalog available on streaming platforms for the first time.
History was made in the moments in between the release date for 10,000 Days and the band’s latest effort, Fear Inoculum. And while that timeframe hasn’t come without its fair share of some pretty fierce demand for the band to produce another record, what we can tell you, is the wait is over and your patience has paid off.
Fans have been eagerly anticipating this record since the TOOL front man Maynard James Keenan announced way back in 2008 that the band was preparing work on its new record. Keenan stressed patience back then, as the band has a process. But, as most fans of the group know, the band’s time is usually well spent and always delivers a solid product. This time is no different.
While there are no clear-cut bangers like on records past, what makes Fear Inoculum unique is that the band’s musicianship really shines.
The record begins with the slow-burning title track and traverses through a sophisticated prog-metal journey. It’s not until about midway through the record, though, with a track titled “Invincible” that the band hits its stride.
“Long in tooth and soul. Longing for another win. Lurch into the fray. Weapon out and belly in,” Keenan sings on the track.
Perhaps that’s a recognition of the band and its fan base maturing. Perhaps it’s the band’s effort to captivate the world’s attention despite a 13-year gap in releases.
Whether you’re thinking the record isn’t up to snuff, or if you’re satisfied with it, the craving for more and something new is satiated with Fear Inoculum. And while this may not be their strongest studio album and the record doesn’t wow you with instant hits, you do see the band’s maturity in songwriting. Fear Inoculum is music for a sophisticated ear. And it’s meant to be consumed as an entire body of work. TOOL doesn’t write radio singles anymore and that’s fine. Like most good progressive music before it, you can appreciate this album as a whole.
Standout tracks: “Pneuma,” “Invincible,” and “Descending”
You can catch TOOL on tour this year in support of the record, including a stop locally at the BOK Center in Tulsa on October 29.