• Record Label: RCA
  • Release Date: Aug 30, 2019
Metascore
81

Universal acclaim - based on 23 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
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  1. Kerrang!
    Aug 21, 2019
    100
    This is the most intricate and densely-layered album Tool have yet made, but to use the word like "complex" to describe the counting-in-prime-numbers time signatures of Invincible or digital-only track Legion Inoculant would be lazy in the extreme. ... An album that pushes and challenges its creators and its audiences in new ways, the finer details of which will probably take another 13 years to fully unwrap and appreciate. [24 Aug 2019, p.53]
  2. 100
    As with releases previous, there are wrinkles that will only emerge after the record is lived with and absorbed. But if you’re wondering whether ‘Fear Inoculum’ was worth the wait, then the answer is yes. If you’re wondering whether it’ll touch your heart, soul and spirt, the answer is also so.
  3. Aug 29, 2019
    91
    Fear Inoculum lives up to its daunting expectations with songs that showcase Tool in peak performance as musicians and compositional arrangers. For the diehard fan, there’s a lot to consume here. Likewise, the album offers little respite for the uninitiated; its accessibility comes in the form of its vastness and eerie psychedelia, not through hooks or common pop structures. This is deep prog-rock as only Tool can create it.
  4. Aug 30, 2019
    90
    Tool managed to improve and perfect their sound even further, resulting in one of the strongest statements in their catalog. Whether 10,000 days or the actual 4,868, Fear Inoculum was well worth the wait.
  5. Aug 30, 2019
    90
    Keenan was accurate to say that Fear would require patience to ingest, being a massive, compelling piece of music that unfolds beautifully and balances Tool’s unique style with plenty of rewarding new elements. Any fears that they would not live up to their past can be abated; Fear Inoculum is truly groundbreaking and one of the best albums of the decade.
  6. Aug 30, 2019
    90
    While 13 years is a long time to wait, the gap melts away between the sounds of this 86-minute masterpiece. Difficult though it might be to fully process, it eases right into the Tool oeuvre and cements its place among their small but towering pantheon of prog-metal art.
  7. Aug 30, 2019
    90
    It’s a magnificent experience. ... If you’re not a fan, or never heard of them before this is the perfect album to start introduce yourself to them. ... Because: trust me on this, it will hold your attention.
  8. Aug 21, 2019
    90
    They continue to blur the lines between art, psychedelia, alt metal, and prog rock with undiminished curiosity and skill. ... As with previous work, on Fear Inoculum, the band’s songwriting can at times seem like a riddle, daring listeners to lean in and figure out exactly what is going on.
  9. Aug 30, 2019
    85
    Neither that track nor this album — all 85 minutes of it — is as catchy, rangy or amorphously composed yet tight as Tool’s raging smashes of the ’90s, such as “46 & 2” or “Sober.” [The group’s most ardent fans] wouldn’t stick around for “Fear Inoculum’s” nearly hour-and-a-half stretch, let alone have endured a 13-year wait for new music, if they weren’t expectant of having fresh changes and new dramas added to the vintage wine of the quartet’s heady mathematical intelligence.
  10. 83
    Granted, it’s a bit of a slog: six of Fear Inoculum‘s 10 tracks spiral past the 10-minute mark. However, these tunes don’t resemble multi-part, Yes-style “prog epics” as much as rock songs stretched into the longform vistas of post-rock, psychedelia, experimental music, minimalism, and jazz.
  11. Aug 30, 2019
    80
    Fear Inoculum is a legacy album that shows the band are not some rock relic but undisputed masters of metallic churn. And if the end of the world is nigh, at least now we have its soundtrack.
  12. Aug 29, 2019
    80
    An 80-minute prog-metal fever dream that proves the band is back and better than ever.
  13. 80
    Fear Inoculum is an intricate record that calls for you to reserve judgement until you’ve been fully immersed. It might be long (running to 86 minutes) but it’s a worthy investment of your time. [Sep 2019, p.82]
  14. Aug 30, 2019
    75
    Before you know it, 87 minutes have gone by and you’re not quite sure what to make of it all, but you’re ready to listen again. For that, Tool are to be commended. If nothing else, the band have given us an album that could very well keep us occupied until its next one arrives sometime around the year 2032.
  15. Sep 10, 2019
    70
    Musically, Tool have taken the best of Lateralus's dynamism and the heaviness of 10,000 Days to explore the middle ground with great length on Fear Inoculum. Those who stuck it out through the decade-plus wait won't mind hanging around a little longer until the album's close.
  16. Sep 4, 2019
    70
    Fear Inoculum is a very good Tool record.
  17. Sep 3, 2019
    70
    Flaws aside, Fear Inoculum is a fun album and an almost completely triumphant return for Tool. It manages to meet nearly every expectation admirers could have and rank as a worthwhile—if slightly subpar—extension of the band's legacy.
  18. Aug 30, 2019
    70
    Fear Inoculum already feels like an event—It's the kind of grand statement that will equally delight and confound, where Tool allows themselves to highlight their technical prowess with uncompromising integrity. Though the lengthy tracks convey great character and complexity, it's best to experience its ambient soundscapes and strapping guitars with a full, uninterrupted listen.
  19. Oct 9, 2019
    63
    The album plays like an extended mood piece that bends and drifts, with a shortage of the crushing hard-rock crescendos and riffs that defined the band’s work on “Lateralus” (2001) and before.
  20. Sep 19, 2019
    60
    Sadly, there’s nothing on Fear Inoculum as immediately accessible or anthemic as past Tool glories like “Sober” or “The Pot,” but what is here will reward repeated spins, even if listeners initially find themselves waiting for those mammoth riffs to show up, a la “7empest,” or for Maynard to finally kick into high gear, as in the rousing refrain of “Descending.”
  21. Aug 30, 2019
    60
    The majority of Fear Inoculum’s songs are more or less interchangeable, achieving the same overall effect in slightly different ways. ... Toolheads will find much to enjoy here, I am sure of it.
  22. Q Magazine
    Aug 27, 2019
    60
    It's an impressive feat of engineering, but one that anyone other than ardent fans will struggle to find a way into. [Oct 2019, p.114]
  23. Sep 5, 2019
    54
    The hybridization that made Tool so popular on the radio in the late ’90s has rusted: They are part stoner metal, part prog rock, part mainstream metal, all working in ignorance and opposition to each other. Things do come together a few times. The 15-minute closer “7empest” brings the biggest fireworks from Carey and Jones, the two undoubted stars of the album, adding alluring melody and texture to these bloated epics. But the highlight far and away is “Invincible.”
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 728 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Aug 31, 2019
    10
    Fear Inoculum nailed every one of my expectations besides one. I don't know if I can say it's better than Aenima or Lateralus, but itFear Inoculum nailed every one of my expectations besides one. I don't know if I can say it's better than Aenima or Lateralus, but it certainly tops 10,000 days, Undertow and Opiate. They didn't necessarily change all too much (Adam's lead work has progressed as have the vocal/string section dynamics), but they have refined everything that makes them great and came out with a record that's not lazily done, nor is it compromising them as artists. Fear Inoculum is a culmination of Tool creating music as a form of art to tell complex stories in a progressive manner. They succeeded in matching the hype, which is no easy feat. It's not the best album of their career, but it certainly has what I'd consider a few of the best songs of their career. Overall 10/10 due to it surpassing everything I expected with minimal disappointment. I'd give it 9.5/10, but I can't so I'll round up :)

    The bad: No MJK screams. Little aggression in his vocals. If you expected classic Tool vocals, you won't really get em here. MJK does a fantastic job vocally and does get aggressive on one track, but his singing is very tame and well kept. It's almost APC-ish, which I am cool with, it fits most songs. Some areas I was expecting a riff to get bigger and bigger then Danny to hit the cymbals then get into a groove while the riff plays at full aggression, but it didn't happen. Instead the riff switched or Adam started playing very large space-occupying chords which then led into an area that blew me away, negating my disappointment.

    The good: Danny freaking Carey folks. The man is an absolute monster on this album from start to finish. Chocolate Chip Trip is a drum solo track, backed by synths (which you may hate the synths but I actually enjoyed them). 7emptest is the best song on the album, top 5 Tool song of all time. For the first time in Tools lifespan this song is less of the Danny Carey show and more of the Adam Jones show. He is just slinging heavy riff after heavy riff here. Around the 10:35 mark, Tool releases the heaviest section of music they have made in their career. It will become a classic to headbang to. Jones showcases some great lead work here too, which accumulates to several minutes on this 16 minute behemoth.
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  2. Aug 30, 2019
    10
    Tool managed to pick up exactly where they left off with a masterpiece. On the level of Lateralus, Dark Side of the Moon and In Rainbows but better.
  3. Aug 30, 2019
    10
    It grows like fine wine. I rated it after 10-20 listens but it’s perfection.