After hearing the album for the first time, I felt like I had just undergone a death trance. That is, I didn't move while plastered to the couch throughout the entire running length. After it was over and I let it all soak in, I decided to just listen to the song Descending again. That's what's playing right now while I type this next iteration sinking into the undertow of Tool's seventh album, Fear Inoculum.
Sound the dread Alarm through our primal body. While Tool sculpt a sonic terrain that's more or less a fusion between their iconic studio debut Undertow and 2001's forward thinking Lateralus, it leaves me pondering. That more or less places Aenima and 10,000 Days in their own strange little territories. In certain ways all their albums stylistically blend into one another. If, at over the nine minute mark in the song Descending, you aren't wallowing in the groovy synth tones and iterational guitar and drum jamming, then I don't know what to say, except apparently this sort of thing isn't for you. Well then. Away do go.
Room for me leave, please. Adam is crushing it on this album, stitching and weaving together, with his percussive and painterly band mates Danny and Justin, a sonic terrain that recalls and reflects upon where they've all been as a band and where they're still exploring forward full tilt. WTF was that chocolate chip trip? It's a spelled out hex played out on sticks, is what it is. And 7empest is a flat out tip of the hat to those Undertow fans among us, giving Justin the opportunity to deliver his homage to Paul and the Sylvia Massy production style they emerged onto the scene with, sort of blended with the pyrotechnical mathematical fusion of Lateralus.
That first sound we hear on the album, the weird struck tone like a shrinking reflected puddle in a piece of metal diminishing, its watery shimmery echo evokes a certain expectation in the listener. We are about to embark on quite a sonic journey. Immunity, long overdue. Contagion, I exhale you. These are more than simple, powerful lyrics. They are part and parcel of the incantatory ritual this album dovetails into with immaculate grace. Inoculated, bless this immunity. Inculcated, the allegorical elegy gets woven. I think it bespeaks of an individual's journey progressing along our evolutionary pathway. The seventh iteration of the developing spiral begins flowering into the octagonal. Hence Alex Grey's arachnohominid skeleton depicted on the front and back covers of the CD booklet. I take it more as a symbol of humanity's movement. The blurring produces the extra arms, after Shiva and other mythological chimeras. I figure this may be attributable to the composite totality of humanity. Individuals overlaid in tandem produce the octohedral capacity for induction.
The song Pneuma gets right to the vital spirit and creative force of the album. Remember. We are born of one breath, one word. We are all one spark, Sun becoming. Wake up now, child. And rock.
Bound to this flesh, this guise, this mask, this dream, wake up, remember, we are born of one breath, one word, we are all one spark, Sun becoming. At the six and a half minute mark, the song decays into instrumentality, widening open the spaces in between the sounds to reveal a seething vacuum of interplaying harmonics fusing into an underlying rhythm the tablas and bass and synthesizer begin tracing out, and we're off once again on a deeper iteration of the theme, sinking even farther into the undercurrent yet, until we realize this is a much deeper river than we'd anticipated. We're swimming easy now in dark open waters beneath our oceanic mind. Down here at these depths anything may arise, lurking from the dark. Danny's cymbal crashes strengthened by Adam's suddenly picking up the slack with some crunchy guitar riffage having naturally emerged from the dynamics again, Pneuma. Eyes full of wonder. The motifs resolve themselves in crashing grandeur. The players give each other plenty of time to fill in their respective blanks.
Each song on this album gives the listener plenty of time for devotion. The opening guitar strumming of Invincible displays some of Adam's most intricate and best sounding playing yet. He's taking his time focusing on crafting these intricate stenciled out guitar signatures. Long in tooth and soul, longing for another wind, it seems as if the fates have granted this request. Warrior struggling to remain consequential. If these words don't mean anything to you they are not supposed to. But here I am. Beating chest and drums. Beating tired bones again. Age old battle, mine. Weapon out and belly in. Tales told of battles won, of things we've done. Caligula would grin. Well doesn't that just say it all, my lost Grub brother(s). Beating tired bones, tripping through remember when. Once invincible, now the armor's wearing thin. Heavy shield down. Some songs were just written that speak directly to your experience. It just so happens this entire band's lyrical legacy echoes my own autobiography, more or less. I can't help this coincidence, but I happen to suspect it's universal. Otherwise, why would I take it so personal? At least to my ears, the devoted gents in this band have not let me down. That's all that really matters when you get right down to it. And if we all get right down to it, then who am I to object? We're all invited to join this party. Come drink from this water for its depths are infinite. At the seven minute and fifty-two second mark, the song descends into spacey instrumentalism and finally begins, and then Maynard returns with a phantom tinged echo to his vocals as he sings about feeling the sting of time bearing down. It's not really a young man's thing, I suppose. These are the cadences of older, weathered warriors. Its the battle march of the more worn tribes who won't put their weapons down, not because they're on the verge of attack but because those swords are fused to their hands by now. So they wield them sonically in a tapestry of vengeful lamentation and determination to make it to the finish line.
And make it there they do, the wavering finish line turns out to be the undulating and gently curved water's edge of the incoming surf from the sea. The sound of the waves crashing in on the sand accompanies our descending under the waves with this band once again. If we're willing to wear the necessary aquanaut's gear in a face sealed mask and breathe pure oxygen through a tube for an extended period of time, we're welcome along for this exploratory ride. This madness of our own making. These odes we are taking to the quick are ours to receive if we're open to them. Drifting through this boundlessness. Sometime in the middle of my second listen I was inoculated. Maybe it's because I'm wearing headphones. Maybe it's because I'm actually listening to the music. Paying attention until the end of each track. I've found that for every second captured in this recording, it's necessary to provide an equal duration of time paying attention to it. In this way the rewards are merited.
Jonesy really lets it all out, that solo in Descending is outstanding. They deliver a torrential outpouring of emotional content with this album. Every track nimbly covers the elemental time signatures and syncopation evoking the spirit channeled by the band since the beginning. I suppose if this gets old for you then you really never liked it that much in the first place. Because what I'm listening to right now is the glorious sound of what each and every one of us devoted to the band years ago want to hear right about now. I don't know about you I'm only speaking for myself here. This is my review. Thorny's a happy camper with these elegies blowing through his ears.
Hallelujah, the day has arrived. August 30 during the Year of the Replicant has vaccinated us all against the falsely perpetuated virus of fear proliferating across the internet and social utility networks like Facebook and Twitter and infecting a staggering percentage of the populace. Listening to this album melts away all of that to reveal the reality of our own personal struggle with freedom. The more I listen the wider my eyes open in wonder at what I'm hearing, here and now at this particular juncture of the unfolding universe. I am alive and breathing in this space and time. I won't have my voice culled by the disembodied machine. I won't be added to the hitlist of your false accusations based on your fuzzy psychopathic misperceptions. In the court of public opinion we are already condemned. Fight back tooth and nail and link arm in arm with friend. Otherwise we'll all be drowned in the end. Under the growing surging tide of blank mirrored faces lined up with more and more accusations. We are all innocent while nothing remains proven. Better pack your bags and get movin'. Keep up with the rhythm of the flow. It's in every beat and pulse in this undertow. It's part of what this album's all about. Now hear me from my desktop as I shout.
I'm surprised how much time the band took to craft this masterpiece. I don't mean to suggest I'm astonished at the length of the interval. Rather, I'm impressed that they actually worked at it long enough to yield such exquisite results in every way conceivable. I'm not a Christ posing acolyte mindlessly worshiping at the stained window altar of Tool, mind you. I'm just a rocker who digs a good tune. I'm just a poet who howls at the moon. I love heavy music and ambient too. What the fuck else do you expect me to do. Go listen to your noise, boys. Don't you dare point that shit at me. This music is not for you. It's something personal I like to do. Sounds like I'll be privately jamming to this album for a mighty long time. The tickets for the tour in support of this album were just announced but they better not have gone on sale. I'm going to have to acquire one for myself. The lads are back on the aural attack at last. Those tix are going to sell fast. I heard they go on sale September sixth. Meanwhile plenty of ads are scalping them now, it seems. If I score this ticket it'll be the eleventh time of my dreams seeing Tool live. The last time I think was w/Isis in 2005.
The extended drum solo jamathon that is Chocolate Chip Trip is simply a gift from Danny to his legion of fans. Nevermind the teeming sea of people who are mainly into the band. There are so many angles and perspectives and reasons to soak up or otherwise immerse yourself into this music. The seventh and final track, 7empest, becomes the apotheosis of what the band represents. Not a bad way to spend seventy-nine minutes. Maynard sounds great. They're all in tip-top shape. By far ten stars. Now get back to your plugged-in, programmed life. May your existence remain without strife. And may your signal get enough bars. And listen to Gary Numan's Cars.