The Fazzler Review: Fear Inoculum by Tool — Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Hype

Penn Valley, CA — Let’s not waste your time and mine and dive into the murky, convoluted depths of Tool’s latest offering, Fear Inoculum. I was assigned this task by my editor, who still owes me mileage money for my Pinto from the last escapade. With their sanctimonious fervor and obsession over every note and lyric, Tool fans are probably sharpening their pitchforks already. But let’s take this journey together, shall we?

Tool is like that avant-garde restaurant that serves deconstructed truffle foam and expects you to call it a meal. Their fans? Imagine a cult, but instead of Kool-Aid, they’re guzzling esoteric lyrics and polymetric rhythms.

Tool fans are known for their discriminating tastes.

Now, let’s talk about those lyrics. “Numa Numa” (or is it “Pneumonia”? I can never keep track) has Maynard James Keenan warbling about “spirit bound to this flesh” or something equally pseudo-profound. It sounds like he’s channeling a philosophy major who just discovered Nietzsche after one too many hits of the bong.

Then there’s the title track, “Fear Inculcation”—oh, sorry, “Fear Inoculum.” This ten-minute opus is less a song and more a lesson in patience. “Bless this immunity,” Keenan intones as if trying to hypnotize us into believing this isn’t a monumental exercise in self-indulgence. Tool’s fans will tell you this is deep, man, but it feels more like a long-winded inside joke that we’re not in on.

And then, of course, there’s the technical acumen.

I’ll give it to them—these guys can play. But here’s the thing: just because you can play in 7/8 time and shift to 13/16 without breaking a sweat doesn’t mean you should. Sometimes, listening to Tool is like being trapped in a calculus lecture with a metronome gone haywire. This isn’t music to dance to; it’s music to overanalyze until your brain hurts.

Another popular pastime by Tool fans is to mansplain the lyrics to women.

Let’s not forget “Chocolate Chip Trip.” This track is supposed to be Danny Carey’s showcase, but it feels like the soundtrack to a fever dream. Random drum solos, electronic bleeps, and bloops—it’s like a 7th-grade science experiment on LSD. And maybe it’s just me, but I longed for the sweet silence of my Pinto’s engine instead.

But here’s where it gets interesting.

Tool’s Fear Inoculum can only exist in a post-colonial, post-ironic, post-sanity world. It’s an album that screams, “We’re profound!” while desperately seeking validation from its echo chamber. The band’s fanbase has elevated them to near-mythical status, where every convoluted lyric is dissected like a sacred text, and every offbeat is a revelation. It’s like a co-dependent relationship where the fans need Tool to reaffirm their superior taste in music.

Now, let’s address those critics. Reading the glowing reviews of Fear Inoculum is like watching a bizarre lovefest where everyone’s high on the same prescription meds.

“A masterpiece,” they declare. “A sonic journey like no other.” I have to wonder what these critics are on and if they can share. The adulation borders on the absurd, making you question whether we’re all listening to the same album or if a secret, superior version is only available to the elite music reviewers.

So here I am, trying my damnedest to appreciate Tool, much like I once tried to find the genius in Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica. But at the end of the day, Fear Inoculum leaves me feeling like I’ve been subjected to an elaborate prank. I encourage you, dear reader, to give it a whirl—if only to marvel at the sheer audacity of it all. And if you manage to decipher the Rosetta Stone of rock that is Tool, please enlighten me. I’ll be over here, listening to ABBA and basking in the uncomplicated joy of a catchy melody.

Fear Inoculum is a monument to Tool’s technical prowess and fanbase’s willingness to follow them into the depths of progressive rock madness. This album is a revelation for those who worship at the altar of Maynard. For the rest of us, it’s a reminder that sometimes, complexity, for complexity’s sake, can be its form of artistic pretension.

Now, about getting those travel expenses adequately paid for…

Loretta Splitair
Loretta Splitair
Loretta Splitair is Gish Gallop's Media and Cultural Editor. She has written widely including publications such as Rolling Stone, The Atlantic and the Lady's Home Journal where she hosts a regular column on the ravages of Billy Joel's music entitled, Billy Joel is a Piece of Shit. Loretta is married to her second husband after her first died protesting railway expansion in Kansas. Please do not ask her about it.

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