tool fear inocolum

Tool – Fear Inocolum – Special Limited Edition CD

Fear Inocolum by Tool is the 2019 release I listened to most frequently last year. After 13 years of waiting to get my hands on a new Tool album I came to the conclusiont that “just” streaming their new tracks would not be sufficient. Therefore I went out and bought a physical copy of the “10,000 days” successor.

As easy as this sounds Tool would not be Tool if they would have simply released any kind of CD as you would usually expect from any other artist. After they made their full back catalogue available through streaming in August 2019 it almost felt like they didn’t want their audience to buy physical recordings anymore.

At the beginning Fear Inocolum was released as a Special Limited Edition coming at a price (depending on your location and timing) that is somewhere around fivefold the cost of a regular CD. A price like that needs at least some kind of justification. What you get with this limited edition is actually rather special.

The Contents

Besides the compact disc itself the Special Limited Edition consists of a threefold Digipak enriched with

  • a 36-page booklet with embossed artwork and partially diaphanous pages
  • access to the mp3 album download
  • a 4 inch screen with exclusive video footage combined with a 2 watt speaker
  • a usb charging cable

CD tracklist:

  1. Fear Inocolum – 10:20
  2. Pneuma – 11:53
  3. Invincible – 12:44
  4. Descending – 13:37
  5. Culling Voices – 10:05
  6. Chocolate Chip Trip – 04:48
  7. 7empest – 15:43

I was terribly wrong thinking this high-price-approach would keep people from buying physical stuff. Due to the high demand (even going beyond Tool’s expectation) they decided to provide an additional re-release:

We are excited to announce that due to overwhelming demand for the FEAR INOCULUM deluxe CD package, a small additional quantity is being made.
We are offering a very limited pre-order for this final run of deluxe CD packages, which will be available exclusively via store.tooband.com.
Those who pre-order will immediately receive a download of the digital album featuring several bonus tracks. The CD packages should be ready to ship at the end of September.

On top of that there is now a further “expanded book edition” of the album available. It doesn’t contain the screen/speaker combo but comes with another 20 pages of exclusive graphics and artworks.

Is it worth the price?

Owning the special limited CD edition of Fear Inocolum leaves me with mixed emotions. It definitely adds some super cool extra features that really rise the bar when it comes to physical music distribution. But there is certainly some shadow too.

I have always been a friend of limited editions that sets the album experience apart from what you would normally get out of the regular album. Back in the days I was a huge fan of the Pink Floyd – Pulse CD release that came with a blinking LED on the outside cardboard box of the 2-CD-set. That was just a LED that actually lost its’ special character the moment the battery died. So of course I’m a huge fan of a 4″ screen and speaker combo that can be recharged to see the exclusive video track again and again.

What really disappoints me is the fact that you actually get less with the purchase of the expensive limited edition. Check out the tracklist of the online version:

  1. Fear Inocolum – 10:20
  2. Pneuma – 11:53
  3. Litanie contre la Peur – 02:14
  4. Invincible – 12:44
  5. Legion Inoculant – 03:10
  6. Descending – 13:37
  7. Culling Voices – 10:05
  8. Chocolate Chip Trip – 04:48
  9. 7empest – 15:44
  10. Mockingbeat – 02:06

Compared to the CD tracklist above this means you are losing the three transitional tracks 3., 5. and 10. In total the CD version is more than 7 minutes shorter than what is available online. Total playing time of the CD is 79min 14sec while the online version is 86min and 41sec. If you would consider the album to be a concept album you’re not only loosing a few more minutes of music but also the overall flow of the conceptual approach.

I do of course understand that the audio CD red book standard has its’ limitations regarding track/album duration. 79 minutes is already beyond the original specification and is within the tolerances of what usally is accepted by CD players.

Still there are albums out in the market that go well beyond 85 minutes in playing time. Maybe it would have been worth trying to squeeze the whole album into one CD. Otherwise it might have been an option to release a 2-CD-version of the album containing the full album and optionally more tracks. At least the mp3 download delivers the full tracklist (otherwise it wouldn’t have had any value added).

Speaking about additional tracks. The Special Limited Edition actually has to offer one more track that is not available anywhere else. It cannot be found on the CD or with the mp3 download. It is the video that is played back on the integrated screen/speaker combo whenever you open the Digipack. The video is mentioned as additional track in the booklet and named “Recusant Ad Infinitum“.

The Verdict

In the end I’m more than happy with the purchase of that special limited edition. I have never seen anything like the integrated screen and speaker combination before. The fact that you can actually recharge the whole thing ensures long-lasting joy with your album even after years when you haven’t heard it in a while. Moreover it’s a Tool album…

If you’re still into physical storage mediums like CDs, you’re a huge fan of the band and you would like to own something special you should certainly go for it. Otherwise use your money more wisely and add a few more albums to your collection for the price of a quite exclusive one.

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