Well I never thought I would see another Tool album in my lifetime.
For a shambles of a critic who was told to leave the family inheritance of cigarettes and porn because I was not longed for this world by the age of thirty, the last time I saw anything this fevered between fans and non-fans was the run to the 2016 US Election.
Tool, what can be said about Tool? Well their fans are right up there with self-righteous Vegans, as in, how do you spot a Tool fan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you and give you as quantum physics lesson as that is (allegedly) the only way to enjoy ‘Stinkfist‘. We are talking about a band fan-base in a genre where Metallica fans exist! However, it would be unfair of me to ‘hate on‘ a band because of their fans – frontman Maynard James Keenan gives us enough ammo his almost laughable views of his fans and self-gratification, which makes it hard to respect a band who doesn’t respect the very people that give them artistic licence.
So let’s ignore all that and look into an album that too fifteen years to make – ‘Fear Inoculum‘. Fifteen years is an awful long time in music, so much so that bands need to try and tap into a new demographic, while also trying to keep fans old to remember the nineties and now have some warped nostalgia of that decade being Tool and nothing else.
The album boasts of eighty-five minutes of anything between two to thirteen minutes a song, which is ambitious for any band, especially in a modern age where everyone has the attention span of a tadpole and it was either this or Taylor Swift’s new album, so I prepared my anus and strapped in for a musical journey that was supposed to take me to new places of the human psyche, if I was to listen to Tool fans for more than five seconds.
Did I find it so awful that I wanted to torch down the vineyards of MJK? No, not really.
Was I taken to a higher plain of existence, only accessible by fans of Tool, Rick & Morty and peanut butter, marmite and cheese sandwiches? Again, no not really.
I suppose the caveat I could take away from ‘Fear Inoculum’ was that is was OK, there wasn’t anything on the album that was inherently awful, it just didn’t do anything for me personally. I felt pretty much empty and apathetic to the body of work, a shrug of the shoulders as it were. As if I have listened to the album and I don’t need to listen to it again. So if you are a Tool fan, you can stop reading now, you haven’t converted me, because me to dumb dumb to likey Tool.
For the rest of us, that actually want to engage with why the album did nothing or me, consider me your Shepard as we walk through tyranny and blasphemy of why I found album “meh”
I suppose the one reason why I don’t like Tool is because for a band that write so much, they do too little to engage in anything that’s actually thought provoking. It’s just buzz words that are repeated to make you think what you are listening too is the secret to everlasting life, lines such as “Exhale, expel, Recast my tale, Weave my allegorical elegy” Sounds thought provoking, but ultimately is just the nonsensical drivel of a double lobotomy patient.
It works for bands like Genesis or Pink Floyd because there is a layer of subtext you can study. Maynard James Keenan comes across as that stuffy art teacher that says art is about expressive and creative freedom, but sets you a detention if you dare paint out of the lines.
That doesn’t mean to say the overall composition is awful, if anything, it was the saving grace of this album, I enjoyed the tribal drum work on songs such as its title track or Invincible and for songs that last longer than most wrestling matches it was this element to ‘Fear Inoculum’ that kept me from giving up entirely on this album.
However, we came to a new fork in the road, in which with each song being so lengthy, it wound up having similar breakdowns. The first three to five minutes have a silent build up, minutes six to nine go into tribal territory – long drawn out chords, solos and sound effects – before the closing the to five minutes of the track goes into ‘bop your head’ territory, it’s surprisingly very rigid and dare I say, seems like the band are playing it safe. Ironically, just like the persona Tool fans inherit! Rigid, can’t take a joke and think MJK is generally a lizard god of some description.
While I did find some highlights in the way of the tracks of the minimalist ‘Chocolate Chip Trip‘ which found heavily inspired by Kraftwerk and ‘7emptest‘ which both had more to engage with in terms of composition and writing ability’s. Both tracks felt more daring and refreshing to listen to and maybe if Tool did more of this, I would have been more engaged and converted to an eternity of enlightenment of fart sniffing.
Again, I couldn’t really tell you if I liked the album or not. 2019 has given me a wealth of albums both good and bad, that have drawn out various emotions, but Tool was not one of them and this will be a passing glance on the road of life. I guess Tool fans should be pleased they got a new album and the rest of us can just be happy for them from afar, preferably behind a chain linked fence of intellectual faeces throwing.