Album of the Month: August 2019

“Fear Inoculum” by TOOL

August 2019

“I feel like this is [about] wisdom through age, through experience. Hopefully through aging you find wisdom in some of the things you’ve encountered. Learning from your mistakes, learning from your successes. So if anything is a broad stroke of this album, it would be embracing where we are right now, acknowledging where we’ve come from and some of the things we’ve grown through.” – Maynard James Keenan

Back in 2006 I heard a new Tool song, I didn’t really care for it. I vaguely remember having it shown to me by one of my good friends and fellow musician who loved the band. “It kind of sounds like Tool trying to sound like Tool”. To be fair I’d never given them a fair listen and I was ready to take the piss.

I was barely out of High School and still caught up in the competitive nature of the music scene in those days. “That band isn’t as Metal as this band!”, “They’re not really punk!”, “There’s not enough screaming on the new album!”… The only thing we seemed to be able to agree on was that Lars Ulrich was undesirable to have as your drummer.

So when it came to Tool they just commanded a weird respect from their fans and I found it to be a bit pretentious. Now I can look back and remember I liked bands that didn’t seem to get any respect so I was probably just hurt and lashing out.

Eventually the full album came out and I didn’t think too much of it. Although there were songs that started to intrigue me. I was in my first band not too long after and Tool was a major influence on 2 of the 3 members. I wasn’t quite there yet but gaining some respect for the new album as well as some older material. The members of my first band “Nadia Pero” gave me a crash course in music that I’ll be eternally grateful for. Through playing our own songs and really picking them apart and messing with timing I just naturally started to appreciate Tool more. I still hadn’t quite wrapped my head around this Maynard character.

I then started to pick up the pace on painting, on college, on relationships, on weird hook ups, on drunken “woah is me” moments, on life in general.

It took Maynard in “A Perfect Circle” to finally click with what he does as an artist and singer. After that I just couldn’t get enough.

In 2010 I left the U.S. for the first time and spent a Summer teaching English in Taiwan. One of my most cherished memories is listening to “Lateralus” on my beat up Ipod while wandering down small twisty streets in Taoyuan. That is when Tool became something more for me. Yes, to put it simply they are a prog rock pseudo-metal band from the 90s made up of 4 dudes looking to rock out. For lack of any other way to describe it I just found that they and I were swimming through life on a similar wave length. It felt like a distant brotherhood and they inspired me to do my own communicating and creating. There’s something truly meditative about their approach that brings me peace of mind.

Whether I show it much or not I can be a deeply anxious person, I can have a very melancholy outlook on things and sometimes it’s hard to want to participate in society. Tool and their music is one of the few things that just about anytime you throw it own it can calm me down and recalibrate my outlook. I’ll always be grateful for that.

So I only got to listen to this new record, “Fear Inoculum” one day out of the month of August but it was a clear choice for my album of the month.

It was a beautiful reflection on times gone by, on changes I’ve gone through, on the beautiful differences of the here and now. It reminded me to keep going and accept that time itself is bearing down on us all.

For me it reminded me to enjoy my existence, to not fear that which is out of my control or inevitable. Only that I should be patient and know that if you can continue to act, powerful things can and will happen.

I’ve been riding 3 full listens of the album. I love that I have a new album to take my time with and dissect for the years to come.

The wait is over, we made it.