Fear Inoculum
August 7, 2019 7:52 PM   Subscribe

13 years since their last release, TOOL has released the first song from their new album Fear Inoculum.
posted by adept256 (55 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
For good or ill, it sounds just like it could fit on 10,000 Days.

(Personally, I don't have a ton of patience for bands who take more than a decade to release something that sounds like it could have been written right after the last album. Portishead, I'm looking in your direction, too.)
posted by tclark at 7:58 PM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

It's a first single. They may have done other things on other tracks.

Also, they're Tool. They're supposedly playing with mystical shit in their music, rhythms and progressions and stuff that have significance in their own ways. So it may be this is just sort of what they sound like.

Also, one of the YouTube comments: "My neighbors have been listening to this all day. It's not like they have any choice."

I laughed.
posted by hippybear at 8:05 PM on August 7, 2019 [17 favorites]

I will say, I think Maynard sounds, um... "lighter" here than anywhere on 10,000 Days. I don't have an adequate word, but that's the best I can come up with.
posted by hippybear at 8:09 PM on August 7, 2019

Don't get me wrong, I've been a Tool fan since Undertow, so I'm familiar with their idiom/milieu and how they do things. I'll wait and see if this album proves different from 10,000 Days or not, and even if they aren't exploring new territory (each album so far has been pretty different from one another), I know I'll still like it.
posted by tclark at 8:09 PM on August 7, 2019

To add, if it is the case that it's not much different from 10,000 Days, I think it's still valid to be a bit like "13 years? Really?"
posted by tclark at 8:11 PM on August 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I kept reading little hints here and there, progress but not actual progress, guys doing math and graphs in the studio, goat sacrifices (not really, that I know of)...

And Maynard saying "yeah, but they aren't ready for me to come in and work on lyrics yet".

Given the title, Fear Inoculum, perhaps this is the Tool album we need right now.

But yeah, 13 years. At least 8 of those being hints at something new... I don't expect Achtung Baby but I'd like to be a bit surprised.
posted by hippybear at 8:15 PM on August 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've been listening to this on repeat pretty much since I woke up. Reminds me of when I actually used to buy singles.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:23 PM on August 7, 2019

Just a bit more from internetting, and then I'll stop flooding the thread:


Limited Edition CD Case
posted by hippybear at 8:25 PM on August 7, 2019

It's weird: none of the news I've seen about this release even once mentioned the lawsuit from like 10 years ago. Yeah it may have just been an excuse, but I remember it hitting after 10,000 Days and then total radio silence after that, save a sliver of news about the case every couple of years. I just accepted that explanation at face value.

I'm also not going to listen to the single outside the context of the full album, especially after this long. They do have some radio friendly songs, and there's the marketing angle of having to release something to remind everyone that they're still around, but one song outside whatever story or theme they're using here would take away from it.
posted by 0.692 at 8:28 PM on August 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

I came to like Tool later than my friends, back in those heady acid-eaten, acid-eating days of youth. I didn't get into them until Aenima had come out and was getting heavy radio and MTV play (remeber that?). I was in line when the record store opened (remember those?) for Lateralus and bought 10,000 Days at release. Apparently I have moved on from the band much more readily than my friends. I'm 10000% over the Maynard-worship exhibited by so many of their fanbase. I'd love to see them part ways with him, get a fresher lyricist, and start releasing more interesting stuff. I skipped along thought this 10 minute snooze fest, finding nothing but rehashed material, and if you'd played it for me today said it was an Variation-In-Production cut from 10,000 Days I would have believed you.

Tool is 3 great musicians and one giant ego. They remind me of the feeling of the band members in the infamous Tommy Lee Jones interview. Just move on, guys. I wish that man were a 10,000th as interesting as he seems to think himself.
posted by glonous keming at 8:45 PM on August 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

Tool is 3 great musicians and one giant ego. They remind me of the feeling of the band members in the infamous Tommy Lee Jones interview. Just move on, guys. I wish that man were a 10,000th as interesting as he seems to think himself.

I remember rolling out the cd fold-out from Undertow at a high school party and people where like "Whoaaa. Intestinal X-rays."

I still love that album. It's great. But yeah, James Maynard Keenan as visionary wine bro pioneer is...well, what you said.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:53 PM on August 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Beth Gibbons (of Portishead) did release a solo album between Dummy and Three and it wasn't good. My fear for Three was that it wouldn't be Portishead again. Likewise for Perfect Circle and Puscifier.

I don't know much about Maynard but he's a great singer.
posted by adept256 at 8:56 PM on August 7, 2019

I know he named a wine after his mom (also a song and perhaps 10000 days itself), which is cool. Even rock dudes love their mom.
posted by adept256 at 8:58 PM on August 7, 2019

/shrug ... If they can crank out something even close to the same level as 10,000 Days again, I'll be quite happy. I don't need or want them to sound different, TBH. There's Puscifer and A Perfect Circle for when I want something that sounds a bit like Tool but not quite, and although I enjoy both, neither are quite my cup of tea in the same way that, say, Lateralus is.

If they want to keep making stuff in that vein, I'll keep buying it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:59 PM on August 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

Tool: I need you to hear this
Me: S'alright actually
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:07 PM on August 7, 2019 [4 favorites]

Tool: I need you to hear this
Me: S'alright actually

It's quite alright.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:16 PM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I want to Tool to ruin me again live like they ruined me the last time I saw then which was possibly in 2014 which feels way too long ago, but might be possible.

Anyway, they ruined me. I need to see them again. No tour dates available, but maybe soon. They've been touring all across the past 13 years. Sort of.
posted by hippybear at 9:32 PM on August 7, 2019

I discovered Tool after Lateralus had already come out. I have no interest in the people in the band, any of their egos or the apparent crackpottery of the fandom, I’m just happy to hear new material. After three listens yesterday, it’s nothing unexpected, but it’s a solid track.

Any new stuff they come out with cannot possibly make any long-time fan of theirs feel anything close to how the older stuff did, decades ago. People need to realize that whatever it is that the band releases, they will not have their minds blown like when they were younger. It just doesn’t work that way, for a multitude of reasons. (I’m just hoping that the album has one or two proper bangers.)

Anyhow, Tool is one of only a small handful of bands left to me with whom I still care about how and where an individual song fits into the full album. I’m looking forward to it based on this sample. Now I need to decide whether to actually make my first album purchase in 5 years or just add it as a playlist in Spotify like I do with every other band nowadays...
posted by jklaiho at 9:33 PM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I don't like their music at all, but.... I'm glad that my brother does, because he needs more stuff to like. For his birthday, he's getting their new album, the box set of all their previous albums, and the Perfect Circle album from 2018 that i think he totally missed.

We're from a mostly-dead family that never gave gifts automatically, so it's nice when there's something that one of us actually wants that can be had.
posted by Chronorin at 9:34 PM on August 7, 2019 [8 favorites]

If you like the band, throw them your money. My favorite bands, I throw money at by the fistful if I get the chance.
posted by hippybear at 9:35 PM on August 7, 2019 [2 favorites]

glonous keming: Tool is 3 great musicians and one giant ego.

Except he did that: Perfect Circle. Self-indulgent and still very good to this one Tool fan. Maynard has his hangups f or sure, but it's not a pox on Tool. Perfect Circle is much more lyrical -- much more Maynard-centric. Tool, not so much. There's enough free play in duration of instrumentals and interstitials and playing with time signatures to say Tool, at least, is not Maynard + 3.
posted by 0.692 at 9:42 PM on August 7, 2019 [3 favorites]

(as much as I love Tool as just encapsulating everything I'm feeling through the course of the day, I'd really love RATM to bust something out, if they hadn't busted apart. Their original message resonates so hard right now and something new would just blow it up)
posted by 0.692 at 9:48 PM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

I thought Street Sweeper Social Club was going to take up the mantle but they didn't get noticed much.
posted by hippybear at 9:49 PM on August 7, 2019

I'm with juv3nal, but Tool, if only Maynard could disappear a bit (or completely) because the music is so much...
A nice reaction, I've seen a different perspective on so much of my favourite metal tracks so much from these guys Lost in Vegas
posted by mephisjo at 9:51 PM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

No accounting for taste. A band puts out an album that's a total departure and I don't like it at first. A band puts out an album that seamlessly continues previous work and I long for the places they aren't taking me. Months later, I generally love whichever of those it is.

This sounds like Tool. It's good. I like it. I'll listen with headphones and probably enjoy the full release.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:56 PM on August 7, 2019 [1 favorite]

The new song sounds like someone put a couple of Tool songs in a blender, seasoned with reverb and drum machines...

I've been re-listening to Undertow, Aenima, and Lateralus in the last week - Undertow getting the most noticeable remastering benefit. 10,000 Days fell flat for me (although I've enjoyed bits and pieces of Puscifer's output since). I'm glad they put those out, even if the embedded artwork consisted of bad scans of grubby CD covers. I'd offer to help, but I don't even want to think about how dysfunctional things are for a band that hasn't released an album in 13 years.

I have exactly zero expectation for the new album. The new song sounds like Tool, but without the excitement that a new Tool song used to bring. Even when Vicarious came out, it felt like Adam Jones was borrowing the musical gimmick from Schism, but it was an exciting song! The opening track for an album that, well, had a sampled thunderstorm on it. It's irrational of me, but I can't get past how cheesy that is, even today.

I felt that same sort of borrowing happen a few times within this single song. That bass sounds like that part in Jambi. That riff's reminiscent of Third Eye. Ooh, that rhythm's lifted from Reflection. Solo sounds a bit like Lateralus. That's fine. There are bits that are somewhat new territory, but sonically it comes across as music for people who compare tonal nuance between boutique guitar amps, and the music is secondary. Which, hey, I'm a synth nerd, I get it. The singing's probably the greatest departure, and it's not a coincidence that the singer's the only one who's been putting out albums with other bands where he's trying other stuff.

It took thirteen years to pinch this one off. That's not thirteen years of composition, that's over a decade of crippling anxiety and public pressure, coalescing in finally sitting down and making something in the last year or two. Between that, semi-public squabbling between band members ("We've got demos, we're waiting on Maynard", "I haven't heard any music from them, look at all the Puscifer and APC I've put out in the mean time"), whatever the fuck is going on with their label and the rights to their music, raising children, re-recording Opiate and making a video for it and not releasing either... Take them out of the context of arena rockers who headline festivals and think of them as dork-ass musician friends and hey, good on them for sticking through a lot of awful nonsense and making this happen.

If it was 13 years later and Adam Jones came out twanging on a Telecaster while Danny Carey played straight four-on-the-floor dance beats, some people might cheer them on for shifting direction, but it would probably be the worst Tool album ever.

I'm glad the new album has me revisiting the old stuff. I wish I was more excited by the new stuff, but there are lots of people who are. I'll probably buy the digital version, but DGAF about a $45 video-screen CD case. They are pretty fantastic live, but seeing Tool live means interacting with other Tool fans, which makes me contemplate if I'm as much of an asshole as all those dudes are. Man, the worst thing about listening to Tool is knowing what other people who listen to Tool are like.
posted by Leviathant at 10:00 PM on August 7, 2019 [7 favorites]

Really surprised how very little traction the seemingly very credible rape accusations against Maynard James Keenan have had subsequent to their exposure, especially as this album rollout has ramped up. Deep fan-forum chatter after they first surfaced seemed to regard his use of the band's road operation as a sexual tourism/procurement service as all but an open secret for years.
posted by anazgnos at 10:44 PM on August 7, 2019 [6 favorites]

I didn’t get into Tool until years after Lateralus because of how horrid some of the fans I knew earlier were.

Perhaps the fans aren’t the only horrid thing here.
posted by nat at 3:11 AM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like this song and I'm kind of glad it still sounds like it came from a 2006 time capsule.

I'm also hesitant to support them at this point.
posted by Foosnark at 4:25 AM on August 8, 2019

listened to it and it magically transported me to a time long ago when i first remember thinking, man this band sucks
posted by Bwentman at 4:45 AM on August 8, 2019 [6 favorites]

I don't have a ton of patience for bands who take more than a decade to release something that sounds like it could have been written right after the last album.

That was more-or-less my reaction, although like the last album this is compositionally much weaker than their first few. This just sounds painfully dated at this point, like they haven't really learned anything in 20 years and lost the polyrhythms and detunings of their roots.

The production is just window dressing on a really simple underlying three-chord underlay that sounds straight out of the worst of the nineties. It's too bad, I was kinda hoping to like it.

At least there's a new Earth album.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:31 AM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

I believe women. Can't pick and choose. It's disappointing and I was looking forward to listening to the new album, but after learning of the accusations and hearing responses, I'll have to pass. My disappointment after all pales compared to claims of "me too".
posted by bindr at 5:39 AM on August 8, 2019 [7 favorites]

There's a scene in Constantine where Keanu enters an occult nightclub that's blasting Tool and I always laugh because it's definitely supposed to convey "THIS IS SPOOKY"
I like Tool, but I first heard it after I got into metal, and it always seemed to me like diet metal. It's got the edge, the artsy-fartsiness and the pretention but without any actual teeth. It's metal for people who hate metal
It's good music but there's a zillion bands that are doing more interesting stuff that no one ever heard of outside of their niche.
posted by Query at 5:51 AM on August 8, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is the first time I have ever knowingly listened to a Tool track and it's an okay piece of prog-metal. Reminds me a lot of Porcupine Tree. I could see it growing on me, especially if I was listening on actual speakers with some bass instead of my laptop—everything sounds like shit when it's coming out of a closed laptop. I really need to shave all the yaks involved in getting my speakers set up again in my new place.
posted by egypturnash at 7:20 AM on August 8, 2019

Well Query, I'll put the ask here: bring some of that interesting stuff no-one's heard of!
posted by zenon at 9:42 AM on August 8, 2019

So I guess I am a hardcore fan since I have paid for the VIP tickets to a couple of shows. But I am not one of those "fans" I swear. It's a pretty cool event. Adam sits down for a couple of hours in a room with the VIP ticket holders and plays his guitar and tells about how they write their music. He'll answer questions. He is really cool guy who does appreciate his fans. He was classically trained on the violin.

This was a few years ago. He was asked about the reason their music was not available on streaming sites. He said that the way their contract was written it did not cover digital proceeds and their record company thought that the company should own all proceeds and not the band. Obviously the band disagreed. I think that the contract must have just ran out and that is why it is now available. They just sat and waited for the contract to run out I think.
posted by Justin Case at 10:18 AM on August 8, 2019

This is the first time I have ever knowingly listened to a Tool track and it's an okay piece of prog-metal. Reminds me a lot of Porcupine Tree.

I'm not sure you could have said anything else to make me want to listen to it more. Porcupine Tree is awesome. But I don't think it's possible for me to get past the rape allegation against Maynard, and it feels weird that most of this discussion is comments somehow not acknowledging that elephant.
posted by Jpfed at 10:35 AM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

God damn, more Sudafed.
posted by clavdivs at 11:47 AM on August 8, 2019

The single is what an algorithm would generate if you seeded it with the last 2 Tool albums. It's not bad but it feels wholly unnecessary; you could just listen to 10,000 Days or Lateralus and hear better versions of this. Aside from the last ~minute, it's just a sprawling meander with no real hook to it.

The musicianship is excellent, everything sounds good, but after repeated listens I cannot remember anything notable about it. We'll see how the full record sounds but if it's 80 minutes of this then, fuck, it's going to be a slog.

As to the notion of replacing Maynard? Who exactly are you going to get to reproduce their back catalogue?

Mediocre Tool is still decent music, and maybe part of the issue is their high watermarks from the past, but this new material is paint by numbers.

I'm not a die-hard for the band and Maynard is best left .... unexamined ... so as to not reduce my enjoyment of his musical output. I'm going to give the album a fair shot but I am anything but encouraged by this track.
posted by Dark Messiah at 12:54 PM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Needs more King Crimson.
posted by the painkiller at 12:54 PM on August 8, 2019 [3 favorites]

Reminds me a lot of Porcupine Tree.

So, I hadn't heard Porcupine Tree before this, so I'm giving In Absentia a listen right now, and they're great! So thank you for that. I have to disagree that they sound like Tool though, I guess because I'm not hearing the same kind of rhythmic complexity that characterizes tool for me. I may have the wrong album? Either way, I always like exposure to new good music.

I may not be a typical Tool fan either though, so who knows. I feel like they peaked at Lateralus, and I feel like Maynard is almost vestigial to the band. If you were going to improve on Lateralus/10,000 days, they'd be instrumental albums, with M-'s lyric lines played on an appropriate instrument. I'm consistently baffled by why people like him so much. As far as I'm concerned, there's one really vital person who makes Tool what it is, then a bass player who'd be really hard to replace and pulls a lot of weight, a guitarist I rather enjoy, and some other guy singing who should maybe just do session work on spec or something.
posted by mrgoat at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

Damn. I didn't know about those questions.

I suggest replacing maynard with this awesome lady.
posted by adept256 at 4:37 PM on August 8, 2019

I didn't know about any of that Maynard stuff. Of course, it doesn't surprise me, just...sigh. I'll be distancing myself from his output moving forward.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:35 PM on August 8, 2019

mrgoat > I have to disagree that they sound like Tool though, I guess because I'm not hearing the same kind of rhythmic complexity that characterizes tool for me.

Similar choice of guitar textures, similar tonalities and general approach in the singing, very similar shape to how this one track and most Porcupine Tree slips between quiet bits and Rocking Out. They're both doing something in about the same area of overlap between "pop metal" and "prog". As to rhythmic complexity I honestly have listened to so damn much King Crimson I just don't really notice it any more unless it's some weird Fripperwankery with two guitarists playing in different time signatures that are prime factors of what the drummer's doing. :)
posted by egypturnash at 8:02 PM on August 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

You've left it to male fans to guess and explain your processes, that definitely obtained legal consent. The process they're sure you always stuck to, dismissing some historical accounts that don't fit the narrative. You know how that discussion tends to go. In your response, you actually endorse those fan defenses. Your response is one single petulant tweet, which implies people made these claims for attention. You follow the well known template: call for social justice X is a good thing, but as soon as it affects you, it has gone too far. Before then, you weren't too shy to include what you were doing in your book.

I have other things I can listen to, that don't require me to ignore that. I have no requirement to be excited about this new release, and there are other new media I am excited about.


Bringing up the legal system is a non-sequitor. It doesn't follow unless the point is to question why people haven't pressed charges for rape or assault. That's another template, and not a very clever one by now.

It's hard to *know*. That's why it's reasonable to expect more graceful handling. I expect he would (or did) have resources if he had to defend himself. That's enough resource to help write a statement that doesn't admit anything you didn't intend to, while making some concession to support #MeToo. What he chose to do was to help weaken it.
posted by sourcejedi at 7:59 AM on August 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

tclark: "I've been a Tool fan since Undertow,"

But are you OGT back from '92, from the first EP?
posted by signal at 2:43 PM on August 9, 2019

Fucking Tool, man. Now I owe a bunch of money to people I made bets with 10 years ago that there would never be another Tool album.
posted by KingEdRa at 5:16 PM on August 9, 2019

[Deleted a couple of comments that appear to be defending rape as long as the victims are groupies; that's gross and we won't have it here. Also deleted a couple responses.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:20 PM on August 9, 2019

Well Query, I'll put the ask here: bring some of that interesting stuff no-one's heard of!

The stuff on Flingco Sound (possibly now defunct; label comp). Horse Lords, and for that matter Horseback. Locrian. Wrnlrd.
posted by kenko at 7:07 PM on August 9, 2019 [3 favorites]

Maynard's a really good singer. Don't take it from me, take it from a voice teacher.

(Weirdly enough, there are videos of at least six other voice teachers reacting to that same performance on YouTube. The "voice teacher reacts" niche is a surprisingly large one.)

I rarely pay attention to lyrics in songs, which probably helps a lot when it comes to enjoying Tool and quite a lot of other bands.
posted by nnethercote at 3:39 AM on August 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

I like the first third of this. As with all the bits of Tool I like, it scratches a strange early-eighties-King-Crimson-covering-Dead-Can-Dance itch I didn't know I had.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:55 PM on August 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

But are you OGT back from '92, from the first EP?

Undertow was my first exposure to Tool. If saying I was a fan since Undertow came across as some sort of true-fan flex, that most definitely was not my intention, because compared to just about every other person I know who is into Tool, I'm a filthy casual.
posted by tclark at 1:27 PM on August 13, 2019

@tclark relax, it's a quote from a song on aenima
posted by juv3nal at 9:00 PM on August 13, 2019

It's release day folks. I'm still not used to the fact that they're on streaming services, but I'm sure happy about it! I'm going to listen a couple of times this afternoon; definitely interested to share impressions later. I've got a coworker who's really into them, so I'll definitely be talking with him too.
posted by dbx at 6:45 AM on August 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

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