Fear Inoculum written and performed by Maynard James Keenan

Fear Inoculum is the title track of the album of the same name, written and performed by the alt-metal band, Tool. The album, centered around the idea of becoming older and wiser, and more capable of independent thought, was released in March 2019. The song, Fear Inoculum, is centered around the journey of someone who has been able to overcome the fear of going against the radical and negative ideas presented by the major influencers in their society.

Fear is firstly presented in this song as a barrier that Maynard has had to overcome in order to achieve this higher state of independent thought. The first example of this barrier in the song is during the bridge. 

The deceiver says, he says

You belong to me

You don’t wanna breathe the light of the others

Fear the light

Fear the breath

Fear the others for eternity

But I hear them now inhale the clarity

Hear the venom, the venom in

What you say inoculated

Maynard’s lyrics describe how the leaders and influencers attempt to create ideas and opinions that will encourage the masses to believe them and discourage them from going against these ideas. Maynard then goes into how he is now able to see these influencers and their intentions – represented by the title ‘deceiver’  for what they truly are. It is suggested that these influencers tend to portray any way of thinking or ideas that contradict their own as negative and reinforce the idea that we should follow them as they are right and know what’s best for us. Later in the bridge, Maynard writes,

“But I hear them now inhale the clarity
Hear the venom, the venom in
What you say inoculated.”

These lines suggest to us that he has overcome the fear of going against these popularised and toxic ideas and has unlocked his potential for independent thought. He is able to see what these influencers truly want. 

The idea of this kind of fear and the barrier it creates is also present in smaller and less extreme social environments, for example two groups of friends at school. In my life, I have been part of many different friend groups. I have committed myself to these groups for long periods of time because I like the people in them and the relationships I have developed. However, there have been points where I have realised that I’m not being treated well or am not enjoying being around these people any more. The first thought that comes to mind is to simply walk away, however, there is an element of fear that creates a barrier for me. Instead of simply leaving, the fear of completely losing the valuable  relationships I formed at the beginning holds me back. 

The second example of fear presented as a barrier in the song is shown in the later parts of the song during the breakdown. 

Exorcise the spectacle

Exorcise the malady

Exorcise the disparate

Poison for eternity

Purge me and evacuate

The venom and the fear that binds me

In these lyrics, Maynard refers to the influencers and leaders discouraging the ideas of independent thought and action and forcibly removing any outliers from their population. Using words like ‘spectacle,’ ‘malady,’ and ‘disparate,’ refer to these outliers like a disease that people will potentially be attracted to and influenced by, destroying their perfect systems. Maynard calls for someone or something to help to purge him of his fear and attachment to this system so he is able to free himself from the ideas of these influencers that bind him. 

A real world example of this barrier is shown through the ideas presented by Donald Trump, the current president of the USA. Throughout his many speeches he makes promises to the people of the USA that he hasn’t or can’t deliver on. People are enchanted by these ideas and take his word for granted. They grow to believe that everything he says is true and correct. However, in some cases, Trump has come across as inherently racist, sexist and biggoted which should render him unfit to lead his nation. Because people have invested so much faith and trust in him, they find it difficult to go against the ideas he is presenting, despite recognising that they are wrong. They need help to cross the barrier of fear that stops them. 

The concept of fear is presented throughout the lyrics of, Fear Inoculum in the idea that fear creates a barrier for people when they try to go against the majority. This is important in today’s society because leaders who value blind acceptance and following is prominent and fear is the barrier that is stopping these people from making positive change with many contemporary political and social issues.

Respond now!