TOOL are like a relic from a by-gone era in music. An artefact in a museum.
Who else in today's music streaming and internet-dominated age could get away with releasing prog-metal songs exceeding 12 minutes and an album clocking in just under an hour and a half?
But few bands command a rabid following like Tool. The LA behemoths have tested their fans' patience to the nth degree as they waited 13 years since 10,000 Days for album No.5 Fear Inoculum.
During that time the four-piece have battled through creative and personal differences and legal disputes.
It appears that time has made the heart grow fonder. Many music industry experts are predicting Fear Inoculum will knock Taylor Swift's Lover off the top of the US Billboard charts and some Newcastle JB Hi-Fi stores have sold out of the album on CD.
Indeed long-term Tool fans will adorn Fear Inoculum. The 13-year break hasn't led to a mass re-invention. Rather a subtle extension of their sonic palette.
Fear Inoculum delivers everything the band are renown for; innovative time signature changes, meaty metal riffs, undulating basslines and some of the most amazing flourishes of percussion you'll hear in 2019 courtesy of drumming master Danny Carey.
Yet Tool's trademark musicality is expressed in a more circumspect manner than 10,000 Days and their seminal 1996 album Aenima.
Invincible is arguably the album's centre piece and where the overriding theme of the album is revealed. Here frontman Maynard James Keenan expresses his uncertainly and fear of ageing and maintaining relevancy as he sings, "Warrior struggling to remain consequential."
On Descending the opening six minutes carries an foreboding stomp where Keenan sings of an impending human-made doom, before guitarist Adam Jones leads the track to its dramatic conclusion.
7empest is the album's heaviest moment where Jones dusts off an unused riff from Aenima for Keenan to then challenge the abuse of authority.
Is Fear Inoculum another Tool masterpiece? Not quite. But after 13 years this is a welcome return.