Quite a few tons of (internet) ink have been spilled over analyzing the music and lyrics behind the art of Tool. And after 4872 since their last release “10,000 days” they did their (long overdue) duties releasing their latest record “Fear Inoculum” on 30th August 2019, chosing to work again with producer Joe Barresi (“10,000 days“ ).
In general, the record tells the story of a symbolic apocalypse: A global means of deceit spreads fear into peoples minds. Sucked into the spiral of their illusion, the impeding doom seems inevitable. Tool love the idea of symbols in their work. Here, this means of deceit can be (social) media, politicians, etc. Society itself is being paralleled with war. Humans are unable to resist, stream their whole existence, part by part, online and failing to deal with the problems that threaten their very survival and destroying nature in the process. Little do they know, that in fact nature always finds a way to survive, with or without mankind.
Fear Inoculum. The story starts with an introduction of the bad guy. Here “the deceiver” spreads poison (fear) all over its prey (“The deceiver says, he says; You belong to me; You don’t wanna breathe the light of the others; “). This process of projecting fear, results in the development of an alter ego of sorts (” My own mitosis; Growing through division from mania; “) among each human, only a faint reminder of their once conscious selves.
Pneuma. Spirit. Breath. This is a straight reference to what is known as collective unconcious in Jungian psychology. In short, it describes a series of behavioral ensticts, shared by members of the same species. It seems like the deceiver’s attempt to spread mass fear is working, and humans are acting instinctively: Rallying, acting as a single united entity, the mass. And the narrator struggles to warn humans against this (“Child, wake up; Wake up now, child; Wake up;”). He urges them to keep their individuality, because he knows that the mass is extremely stubborn.
Litanie contre la peur. Litany against fear. It seems like the narrator’s desperate attempts for awareness is futile. The narrator knows the war against fear is inevitable and prays, as if before the battles about to come.
Invincible. The battle starts. The battle against what is now the new status quo, set by the deceiver. In the new status quo, the narrator is an old-fashioned existence (” Beating chest and drums” – reference to gorillas and old tribes perhaps to signify how primitive/different he is compared to the new society that the deceiver has formed). In this new status quo, the warrior struggles (“Warrior struggling to remain relevent; Warrior struggling to remain consequential;”). This new society depresses the warrior, who recalls the old days (reference to Juan Ponce de León ‘s Fountain of Youth).
Legion Inoculant. As in every war, the time has come to face the legion of the enemy. In our case, the legion is the hordes of mezmerized, social-media-obsessed humans, against who the warrior/narrator and people like him, greatly struggle. This war is similar to peer pressure how society dictates certain models. You either fit in, or you become an outcast much like the narrator.
Descending. The outcome of the battle is defeat. In the last hour, the warrior, still deep in the battle (“Stay the grand finale; Stay the reading of our swan song and epilogue”), pities the enemy. Seeing people struggling so much to fit in molds that destroy individual character is one thing, but seeing how ignorant the enemy is to this disaster (“Falling isn’t flying“), the narrator almost feels for them .
Culling voices. Now, only a fading voice remains of what once was conscious thinking. Fear paralyzes its victims, making them unable to think. Thinking is described as an internal dialogue and this is exactly what is meant by “psychopathy”. Only now, there is hardly any space left for second voices.
Chocolate chip trip.
Tempest. These molds cast by the deceiver act as an illusion, until you are confronted by the facts, which in this case hit you like a tempest (“Miss-lead; Flash, don’t blink; Follow the evidence” – Don’t use your lies as defense). A final wake up call, the aftermath.
Mockingbeat. This is a post-apocalyptic scenery. Animal sounds, etc. Ignorance brings the destruction of nature. However, it only leads to the destruction of humankind, whereas nature itself continues to exist, with or without humans.
In its totality, the records is meant to be listened to from start to finish, as a whole part. Which highlights the fact that there are interludes in between.
The work done by Adam Jones on the guitar and Justin Chancellor on the bass, is phenomenal. Although their sound has hardly changed since 10,000 days it is still fresh and SO heavy. Maynard James Keenan, has offered lyrics of the highest quality, tailor-made for the music created by the gentlemans above. Poetic and mystic, keeping the standards of their previous work. Some parts remind me of Aenema or even Undertow (Tempest), some parts remind me of Lateralus (Descending, Pneuma), but overall this is the album of the year.
A separate mention to Danny Carey. This record is his moment to shine. Easily the heaviest drum sounds I have ever heard.
Spectacular production. Huge congratulations to Joe Barresi.