After 13 years of internal strife, promises, and endless delays, prog-metal overlords Tool have finally released Fear Inoculum, their long-awaited new album. Even while they were taking forever to get the LP out into the world, Tool remained one of the most popular rock bands in the world. So it should probably not shock you to learn that Fear Inoculum is now the #1 album in America.
Billboard reports that Fear Inoculum sold 270,000 units last week. That’s a big number — the biggest for a rock band since the Dave Matthews Band released Come Tomorrow in June of last year. And there are a couple of other things that make Tool’s numbers even more impressive. For one thing, a whole lot of people who score #1 albums these days do it by bundling their albums with merch or with ticket sales to a big tour. The Dave Matthews Band, for instance, moved 292,000 equivalent units, but they did that with a ticket-sale redemption offer. Tool didn’t do any of that.
And while Tool also made a big thing of putting all their music, including the new album, on streaming services after resisting those services for years, Fear Inoculum sold actual albums. Of their 270,000 in recorded sales, 248,000 were actual sales — people either buying the digital download or the elaborately packaged $50 CD. Only 21,000 units came from people streaming the whole album. Less than 1,000 came from people streaming individual tracks. Apparently, a whole lot of people are still interested in the traditional studio album — at least if it’s a Tool album.
Right now, a lot of websites are recording angry social-media reactions from Taylor Swift fans who are angry that Tool, a band unfamiliar to many of them, have dethroned Swift after Swift got to #1 with Lover last week. If you look online, you can find those reactions. But don’t do that shit. Tool’s last two albums also debuted at #1. Their success here is not a surprise, and nobody needs to gloat about it by quoting upset children.
In any case, Swift has done just fine for herself. Lover did 178,000 equivalent units last week, and it’s at #2. Lana Del Rey’s Norman Fucking Rockwell is at #3 after selling 104,000. Teenage Queens rapper Lil Tecca did 68,000 units of his debut album We Love You Tecca, good enough for #4.