- Fear Inocolum
- Litanie contre la Peur
- Legion Inoculant
- Culling Voices
- Chocolate Chip Trip
In the world of music today, TOOL is still a polarizing band. There are those out there who love TOOL, and have an almost beyond-fanatical reaction to everything they do, and then there are those whom wouldn’t give a second listen to them because they just don’t get it. I’m a huge TOOL fan, myself, but this review will not be paying lip-service for fans.
Thirteen. Thirteen years it took the band to produce this album. To call it epic would be a gross understatement at this point. Over the years, the band had to fight off lawsuits and various issues that had been covered at length in the media. Self-criticism of each members’ own work continued to push the writing time of the record to, well, record lengths. Second-guessing oneself is most artist’s worst enemy.
Amid the ‘controversy’ of TOOL scoring a number one album and clearly knocking Taylor Swift out of the hot-seat, this is a well-earned reward for the band’s hard work. The album segues between the polyrhythmic drumming of Danny Carey, the illustrious and heavy bass lines of Justin Chancellor, Adam Jones’ ethereal buzzsaw guitar and Maynard James Keenan’s soft and haunting vocals. Everyone who’s been a fan knows that Carey’s drumming, consisting of polyrhythms, unique fills and bizarrely addictive time signature changes, would be showcased again on the album. However, this is where Carey is able to shine, and in some ways, take center stage. Chocolate Chip Trip and 7empest are the two tracks where it’s not only showcased, but exemplified here. It’s more like the remaining members had decided to let him go out and play, and play he did.
As layered as the songs may sound, it’s very much an intimate affair. Everything feels stripped down to its core, all while each instrument (and vocals!) are allowed to shine brighter than ever. Yes, there are hints of the previous albums, Lateralus and 10,000 Days, but this is just another evolution in a trademark sound and experimentation that the band themselves dove into over the last twenty years. Pneuma is another foray into the spiritual side of things, akin to “Lateralus” and “Schism”.
Litanie contre la Peur is a segue that leans heavily to the 70s prog, which had utilized synthesizers for ethereal effect. Invincible showcases Jones’ picking technique, and while sounding similar to other songs in TOOL’s catalog, the chord progression and the addition of Chancellor’s plucky, stoic bass line, play upon a beat by Carey that is trippy and psychedelic.
The masterpiece on the long-gestating work is 7empest. Each member has let loose in such a way, it’s like releasing the genie from a bottle. The atmospheric affair builds and builds until Carey comes crashing down with some of the sickest and brutal drumming of his career. Every piece of this song was meticulously culled together by a band who understands each others strengths, and creates one of the most memorable tracks in their catalog.
Thirteen years in the making, this album was not an easy review. Just like anything TOOL has done, one has to listen to it more than just repeatedly. One has to dive in and listen closely to every nuance; the nooks and crannies of delectable melodies that seems similar to riffs written in the past. There’s certainly a lot more to the music than most casual fans will realize. Once again, TOOL has knocked it out of the park, allowing each member to showcase their talent and creativity.