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Fear Inoculum Revisited - CD
Fear Inoculum has been out for a couple of weeks and because each song is over 10 minutes there's tons to unpack and worth revisiting.
Initially I accessed all 10 songs on Spotify the day they were released and then coughed up the bucks to buy the CD, which was delivered the middle of last week. The CD is unlike anything I've ever seen and includes a booklet and dvd screen with video graphics. It's pretty darn cool. The CD also only includes 8 songs and places Chocolate Chip Trip before 7empest, which is an unusual choice to say the least. The CD does not include 'Litanie contra la Peur' and 'Mockingbeat'.
Prior to this past Sunday I'd only listened to the album once all the way through and on inferior computer speakers. My son came over and we put the CD on a sound system I knew would do the music justice. Sorry neighbors! With great image sourcing you can hear things you'd never pickup with ear buds or even headphones. We had this album cranked to close to concert levels and it sounded like Danny Carey had his drums set up 10 feet from where I was sitting. The engineering quality of this album is superlative.
For me this album is challenging to review, because there's a cornucopia of soundscapes enveloping in three dimensions, and each song has so many distinct transitions that it's like you're almost getting a full album in one track. You can play it sequentially, in which case all tracks build to a massive crescendo in the song 7empest. You can also listen to the songs out of individually and revel in their unique majesty. For example, Invincible sounds like a movie soundtrack meant to accompany Julius Caesar as he destroys an army in Gaul. To me this is Tool evolved into a natural progression that seems in perfect harmony with where they are and should be today. This is four artist flexing their mature muscles in what many speculate is their swan song album. I certainly hope that's not the case.
One cannot review Fear Inoculum without talking about Maynard James Keenan's vocals. They're as frustrating as they are alluring. They're as angelic and they are sinister and biting. They're artistically and purposefully restrained, which speaks to MJK's unwillingness to compromise. He knows Tool fans want him to belt out an ear splitting scream of emotion, but he tells them "No!". Pure creative license. His vocals on Culling Voices are so flipping amazing that it's hard to believe this guy had no vocal training. And I'm still unpacking each song lyrically. I love the words to Invincible and 7empest. In fact I like them all.
If you like Adam Jones as a guitarist, then you've got to love 7empest, which IMO is his 'Opus'. The 21/16 time signature creates a chord progression that is so off the chain I don't think I've ever heard anything like it. The tone is other worldly. Brilliance consistently shines through. I think the same can be said of Danny Carey's performance on this album. He clearly wanted a lot of creative input and it shows up in spades. Justin Chancellor is so creative in his own right and forms the backbone of a phenomenal rhythm section that has no equal.
These aren't just songs, they're experiences that provide impact and ask a lot of the audience. It's hard to believe an album like this can be made in 2019. And I'm sure you've noticed I haven't referenced any other Tool album in this review. That was purposefully done!