I think we are going to be talking about the new Tool album for a very long time. Go figure, something that took thirteen years to come out will probably take another thirteen years to fully comprehend.
I wanted to do a review of Fear Inoculum but honestly, I’m not exactly sure what my opinion of the record actually is. I mean I like it… sure, it’s a new Tool album. Sure, it’s a monolith of musical compositions with some of the most hauntingly beautiful into outright progressive-metal bliss guitar work from Adam Jones we’ve ever seen. Sure, it’s a defining statement on the evolution of the band. However I find this eighty-six minute ocean of genius and anticipation falls short of something.
And much like my opinion of Fear Inoculum, I have zero idea as to what I think the album lacks. I’ve listened to it over ten times already and my mind has pitched many theories ranging from the absence of Maynard James Keenan’s raw vocal aggression that often becomes Tool’s unofficial lead instrument. Then I even thought the record simply wasn’t loud enough. So yeah… I’m a little all over the place at the moment. You’ll more than likely be reading my review of Fear Inoculum by March 2020.
But for now I’m here to tell you that the new album does contain this song “7empest” (pronounced Tempest) that I swear is one of the best Tool has ever wrote. It’s the last real track on Fear Inoculum, a perfect closer that I feel makes the thirteen year wait almost worth it.
I say the phrase “real track” because the actual last song is a brief instrumental, one of four on the record and something I have a major issue with. When I saw Fear Inoculum was only going to be ten songs, I felt a little cheated. That’s less than a song a year if we factor in the length of the break between 10,000 Days and August 30th, 2019. But I figured some of them would be longer so it would all balance out. I did not however think we’d be getting four, yes four of these little “intermissions” scattered throughout the recording. I understand their purpose but in all reality, I’d rather have seven legitimate Tool songs, than ten songs and four of them are literally filler.
Filler that Apple will charge you $1.29 a piece to listen to no less.
It’s absolutely ridiculous. Sorry for going off on a tangent there but it had to be addressed.
Anyway back to “7empest,” easily Fear Inoculum’s crowing achievement. Fifteen plus minutes of why the hell we love Tool In first place. Everything about this song shines over the others. For example; you might have noticed that a majority of the tracks follow a similar pattern… quiet opening (either a bass line or constructed noise), which builds to the rhythm guitar riff, then cue Maynard, more build up, still building, then rock out for a little bit, instrumental jam session for five minutes, then resume with the chorus but this time… rock out harder, then the finale.
“7empest” breaks that formula with the Hammer of Thor! It opens with an Adam Jones screaming riff that’s some of his most impressive guitar work since the Lateralus days. A veritable audio blitzkrieg… then Maynard takes over with his signature vocalic aggression that picks up right where “Eulogy” left off. Proving ultimately that when Maynard is pissed, all is well. Then the song becomes this epic display of exactly how far the artistry behind the music has come over the past thirty years.
Personally I figured Fear Inoculum would lean more toward Lateralus over Opiate in terms of sound. But in their latest effort, Tool really pushed the limits of the progressive-metal genre. Even I was surprised by how more prog than metal they went on this album. Which I believe to be the natural evolution of the band. We could hear traces of “7empest” style compositions on AEnima yet it took all this time to perfect them. The end result being a listenable homage to their career.
Think of what Marvel did during hour two of Avengers: Endgame but with music. Maybe it’s just me but when I listen to “7empest” I can little snippets from the different phases of the group. And if this were to be Tool’s last song for another thirteen years, I’m proud to say the left us with the most beautiful of cliffhangers.
While I’m still undecided on Fear Inoculum as a whole, I’m 100% positive “7empest” was worth the wait.
By Adam Chmielewski
Photo Credits- Apple/RCA Records
What do you think of “7empest?” Let Nerdbot know in the comments!!