Lewis Kay-Thatcher
Sep 9 · 4 min read

After 13 years, the dimension-bending heavy art-rock band Tool have released a new record, Fear Inoculum. To the adoration of millions of people around the world, one of them is typing this right now.

TOOL — Fear Inoculum, released 30 August 2019

Alongside each album is an incredibly complex and detailed artwork, usually with cosmic easter eggs that fans discover, and speculate over, for years after the release. This one is no different. A spiral of cascading eyes seem to be a crop of what I can imagine to be a beautiful and detailed accompanying booklet. Fear Inoculum’s CD package also comes with a 4" LCD screen and speakers built in. Who does this? Tool do this.

Each new album also seems to bring a logo update too. Reddit user Zigmalwu compiled them all together to see how they compare:

Tool logos as compiled by Reddit user ZigmaIwu
Tool logos as compiled by Reddit user ZigmaIwu
Tool logos as compiled by Redditor ZigmaIwu

Over the past 28 years the logos have varied vary quite dramatically in style, shape, and legibility. I just wanted to talk about the new logo for a minute.

Undeniably it’s great… it’s TOOL, but, there’s something I find a little awkward about it. I’m not even going to touch on the 90s Egyptian Tomb-Raider-esque 3D rendering of the type.

Although it has a nice asymmetrical hint, it’s mainly in the layout that I feel it’s missing a trick; the crossbar for the T and the lack thereof for the L.

2019 Tool Logo
2019 Tool Logo
The unbalanced asymmetry of the Tool logo
The unbalanced asymmetry of the Tool logo
The unbalanced asymmetry

Working as a designer, I am constantly looking at balance in design. Often the empty space created by elements carry more weight than the elements themselves. In this case, the unbalanced asymmetry makes the logo feel like it’s ever so slightly leaning over to the right.

I’m constantly asking, but why did they do that? How would it be if..?
With this logo, i’m asking ‘but why didn’t the designer mirror and flip one side?’. By doing that, it would have not only retained the balance but also allowed the logo to be an ambigram. A very Tool touch.

Here’s a mockup of the logo with the left side rotated 180º from the centre mark:

A rotated variation of the current Tool logo
A rotated variation of the current Tool logo
A rotated variation of the current logo. Note: the light source is off in this due to lack of re-rendering.

The connecting line from the underside of the T to the bottom of the O is now in asymmetrical balance and the L feels a little more like an L. There is more breathing room around the cross bars and the whole thing feels a little more dynamic.

The rotated logo overlayed as a syringe

As the title is Fear Inoculum, it’s been noticed in various places around the internet that the logo could be a syringe cut in half. Injecting us with 1 hour 26 minutes of mind-melting time signatures. With the new rotated version of the logo this theory still holds. The joining bars act as the spring loaded mechanism to pull the lever out, along with our pre-Tool souls.

Here are both the logos together, the subtly changed one below the orginal:

Which do you think sits better? Original or Rotated?

If nothing else, this is an insight to a designer’s life. Meandering through life seeing awkward design in everything, and I mean everything. Over-analysing why this happened, what influenced these decisions, and my word, how did they choose that type!? Overthinking over-analysing separates the body from the mind. There’s not really a right or wrong as it’s all so subjective, but it’s interesting to see how much a small change can hugely impact the whole feel of a design. Pixel pushing aside, there definitely is a time and a place to use 90s Egyptian Tomb-Raider esque 3D rendering… is one of them for this century’s most anticipated release? Why the hell not.

Lewis Kay-Thatcher

Written by

A tea-drinking, distracted, cosmic sun-of-a-gun. Creative Art Direction. Illustration. Mindfulness. Radio. Writing. ☀️ Insta @teaindreamland

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade