The decade's most anticipated metal album finally dropped today. Tool's Fear Inoculum has arrived after 13 years of hype, hope, rumours, doubts, and everything in between, thanks primarily to the deliberately nebulous media strategy employed by Maynard James Keenan and his elusive bandmates.
Fear Inoculum may divide listeners, at least early on. This is Tool at their most meditative. It's an elastic, atmospheric journey executed with greater restraint than ever before. Genuine metal moments are relatively few and far between, making Fear Inoculum a body of work you really need to live with before passing judgment - though that won't stop the knee from jerking. Regardless, whatever your first impression, stick with this beautiful, 86-minute behemoth and your patience will be rewarded, with every repeat listen bearing new fruit.
Note that this article is based on Fear Inoculum's digital release, which includes a handful of short, gap-bridging interludes missing from physical copies. And yes, Tool are one of those bands where the full-album experience trumps everything else. Like 10,000 Days and Lateralus before it, this project is supposed to be consumed as a whole, but that doesn't prohibit isolation and comparison entirely.
A caffeine-dependent life-form from the frozen wastes of north east Scotland. He once tried to start a revolution but didn't print enough pamphlets, so hardly anyone turned up. Give him a follow @andyhmurray. You'll have a great time. Maybe.