Written by Alex Stojanovic
Litanie contre la peur
Chocolate Chip Trip
Release Date: August 30, 2019
Label: RCA Records
Maynard James Keenan - Vocals / Adam Jones - Guitars / Justin Chancellor - Bass / Danny Carey - Drums & synthesizer
I must admit right now, I only started slowly getting into Tool very recently, so I'm a late-comer. As a musician, their song structuring, complex arrangements and overall musicianship is something that I'm in awe of. Before we get into the review, think about this for a second. The last time Tool released a record, YouTube was in its infant stages before becoming the behemoth worldwide video streaming service that it is now, but there was no Facebook, no Instagram, no Snapchat, no Twitter, none of that. Think about that for a minute. Feel old yet? I sure do.
The reception to the record has been extremely positive. The public got the first taste of the record when the band premiered "Invincible" and "Descending" at live shows back in the spring. Like any record that is long, it takes a few listens for it to start hooking you. The track that managed to hook me the quickest out of the six was "Pneuma". My favourite section of the song is the one that starts around the 9:20 mark. I honestly think that this should've been the opening track instead of the title track "Fear Inoculum". Being a huge fan of odd time signatures, I always find myself counting time signatures to songs with my fingers, even if the entire song is in 4/4. I'm still trying to figure out a good majority of the time signatures on this album. Maynard's vocal abilities are astonishing, with being able to use different tones to create different identities for certain sections.
Each song reaches over the 10 minute mark, with the shortest song being the closing interlude track "Mockingbeat", which clocks in at 2:05. The longest track is "7empest", which clocks in at close to 16 minutes. Long songs are built to create a musical journey, but also test the attention span of the listener. I will admit that the interlude tracks, and some of the slower, more atmospheric sections of certain songs that went on a for little too long started to give me the sleepies. I think that the riff in "Invincible" that starts at the 7:40 mark is a little too repetitive. I gotta give it to Adam Jones though, for being able to survive mentally by playing that riff for a good 3 minutes. If I was in his position, I would probably start to go insane after the first minute or so.
Honestly, I found the interlude tracks to be a little pointless. The only interlude track that's a little more interesting is "Chocolate Chip Trip" because it's more of a drum solo over top of an electronic loop. What else can I say about Danny Carey? The man is an absolute beast on the skins. Not only that, but he plays the synth parts on the album as well. The synth part in "Descending" that comes in at 9:37 kind of makes me think of "The Camera Eye" by Rush. Of course, you need to give it up for Justin Chancellor as well. His bass lines are just as much at the forefront of any Tool record as Maynard's vocals, Carey's beats and Jones' riffs.
Fear Inoculum has so much to absorb, but what a record indeed. Recently, Carey said that the band have a ton of material leftover from the Fear Inoculum sessions for the next album, and that their goal is to have it out a lot sooner. Pretty much every band says that when they release an album after a considerably long time. Some of them end up following through with that promise, while others just end up becoming another long wait. Given that it took 13 years for Tool to get this album out, what do you think? Do you think they will deliver a lot sooner, or will it be another long wait?
Highs: Fantastic production, high caliber musicianship, complex song structures and arrangements
Lows: The interlude tracks and some of the more softer atmospheric sections started to put me to sleep.
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