Tool’s Fear Inoculum: Everything We Know About the New Album
Since Tool first announced in May that they were releasing a new album, the hunger for every scrap of information about Fear Inoculum, the fifth full-length record, was insatiable. And it’s understandable: It’s been 13 long years since the Grammy-winning band last released a record—2006’s 10,000 Days. (Of which Justin Bieber is a fan, in case you didn’t know.) And before that, fans waited … 10,000 days between the third and fourth records for new music.
After Maynard James Keenan and Co. dropped the news of the August 30 release, a few more tidbits of info about Fear Inoculum trickled out. Here’s everything that the band has shared about their new music, with some newsworthy moments in between.
Updated August 30, 10:52 a.m. ET
Two New Songs
Ahead of the official album announcement, Tool surprised fans at their May 5 Welcome to Rockville festival show in Florida with a pair of previously unheard tunes: “Descending” and “Invincible,” both of which are included on Fear Inoculum. The band had teased in an earlier tweet that something might be coming: “Feelin cute. Might play some new material on this upcoming tour. idk.”
Tool were relatively quiet when it came to sharing more information about the highly anticipated new record, then July 21 rolled around. The band not only confirmed on social media that the release date would be just a smidge over a month away—August 30—but also debuted a new logo. While the former stamp was more contained in a rectangle with thick lines and soft edges, the new logo offered a steampunk feel with its thin gold lettering.
It’s Called …
At last! The new record’s title—Fear Inoculum—was finally revealed on July 29th in an Instagram post in which the band also thanked fans for their patience. It has been 13 years, after all …
The Future Is Now
For those who were looking to revisit the Tool catalog ahead of the new album’s release but no longer (or ever) had a CD player or cassette deck, the band offered up their catalog on digital services for the first time August 2. The Opiate EP (1991), Undertow (1993), Ænima (1996), Lateralus (2001), and 10,000 Days all dropped on Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal.
Keenan said jokingly in a statement: “Our obsession with, and dream of, a world where BetaMax and Laser Disc rule has ended. Time for us to move on. But never fear. There’s a brand new thing we think you’re really gonna dig. It’s called Digital Downloads and Streaming. Get ready for the future, folks!”
Album Art Has Arrived
Though Tool had shared the new record’s title and release date, album art wasn’t revealed until August 5 on Instagram, 25 days before the LP’s scheduled drop date. The Insta vid featured a coiled, slithery … something.
First Official Taste
Tool piqued interest even further (if that’s possible) by releasing the new album’s title track on August 7. Fans ate up the 10-minute, 22-second song, racking up nearly 10 million listens on YouTube by the end of the month. Even more impressive, a week after its release, the song landed on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the longest song yet to crack the chart. (David Bowie’s “Black Star,” which clocks in at 9 minutes and 57 seconds, was the previous record holder.)
A week after dropping Fear Inoculum’s title track, Tool unveiled the album’s song list via Instagram. While the physical version of the album will feature seven tunes, Tool showed that they’re really digging being down with the times by offering three extra tracks on the digital download.
Streaming to the Top
All five of the band’s studio albums cracked the Billboard 200 just under two weeks after they hit streaming services. When it came to Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart, Tool dominated, claiming multiple top spots: Ænima at No. 1, Lateralus at No. 2, 10,000 Days at No. 4, and Undertow at No. 5. (Opiate was a respectable No. 12.)
A Dangerous Delay
Drummer Danny Carey revealed that the long delay between albums led some fans to act out in completely unhinged ways. Keenan “even told me he was getting death threats from these idiots out there,” Carey told Metal Hammer. “They just have no idea what our work ethic is. These things don’t happen, man. There’s no other record that’s going to sound like this Tool record. What you hear is what you get, and what you get is what it takes to get it done. And it’s not an easy process.”
SPIN had the chance to check out Fear Inoculum a few weeks ahead of its drop date, and the new 90-minute record did not disappoint. Wrote Dimitri Ehrlich in our review of Tool’s new LP: “The band remain defiantly contrary to the auto-tuned, digitally-quantized world in which we now live. They continue to blur the lines between art, psychedelia, alt metal, and prog rock with undiminished curiosity and skill.”
Wine First, Music Later
Besides the fact that writing complex music can take plenty of time, it turns out that part of the reason for the massive gap between albums was that Keenan was just too darn busy tending to his beloved wine grapes, so he had to squeeze in recording his vocals between his winemaking duties.
He explained to Tone Deaf that a producer and an engineer traveled to his Arizona home during wine harvesting season to get the recording for Fear Inoculum done. “I would spend time on the forklift, do some inoculating, do some wild ferments, whatever we were doing in the cellar while [they] gathered things together,” Keenan told the Australian site. “Then I would come in and do about an hour of vocals, two hours of vocals, and then they’d take a beat to organize it and comp [the takes] and figure out some of the better takes. … I didn’t have the luxury of time, so I made time.”
Hitting the Road
Hours after the new album dropped, Tool announced that they would be kicking off a six-week tour in mid-October to support the album.
Let’s just hope it doesn’t take another decade-plus before fans get to feast on Tool’s sixth record.