By Jennie Orton
TOOL taught everyone a lesson in patience with a 13-year wait for new material. This skill comes in handy when listening to Fear Inoculum, a challenging album that finds the band leading the listener through long hallways of hard truths and elusive catharsis. Release comes, but they make you work for it.
From the first familiar cymbal tings of the title track, to the sketchy paranoia in the Danny Carey drum solo track, “Chocolate Chip Trip,” you’re left feeling like you’ve stumbled into a funhouse full of warped mirrors and memories — jarring but oddly satisfying.
It’s in “Descending,” when Justin Chanellor’s churning bass line and Carey’s driving war cry drums, you hear singer Maynard James Keenan bellow, “Stir us from our wanton slumber. Mitigate our ruin. Call us all to arms and order” that the work reveals its fruit. This slightly resentful, slightly menacing, slightly jaded growl is the voice of a band back from a long time in the abyss. You can see the claw marks on them; years of speculation and demands, years of watching their country become a circus of entitlement and division, years of fending off the ghosts of their own relevance. The last two minutes of this song breathes fire, a chest bursting delivery from the beast that rode the spiral to the end and led us all where no one’s been before.
Tempestuous as always, TOOL prove that absence breeds breathless longing and makes escapists of us all. True to form, they do not allow us to escape, but instead put us right in front, face first with a snarl. And all we can do it smile and ask for more.
Best Song – DescendingFear Inoculum, Tool