Tool Albums Ranked Worst to Best
Never content to tread water creatively, Tool meticulously make sure that each release possesses a defiantly artistic streak that sets them apart from the rest of the music world, while moving guitar rock forward.
In 1992 the band’s debut EP, Opiate, combined hooks within a ferocious framework for an alt-metal sound that appealed to grunge fans. A year later, Tool’s first album, Undertow, demonstrated noticeable creative growth by adding dynamics and textures that defied easy categorization, as you'll see in our below list of Tool Albums Ranked Worst to Best.
With the members’ roots in the Hollywood film industry -- guitarist Adam Jones, singer Maynard James Keenan and bassist Paul D'Amour -- and the comedy rock act Green Jelly -- Keenan again and drummer Danny Carey -- they were able to incorporate audio and visuals into a complementary package that also made room for some humor.
That led to groundbreaking and super-disturbing music videos, album artwork and packaging (their fourth LP, 10,000 Days, included stereoscopic glasses to produce 3D effects in the CD booklet) and contributions by visionary artist Alex Grey.
With Justin Chancellor later replacing D’Amour, the band delved deeper into making metallic sound sculptures on Ænima, Lateralus and 10,000 Days. The songs became more complex in scope, and because of that they frequently clocked in at more than 10 minutes. And as the band’s music became more sophisticated and experimental, the growing list of descriptive terms swelled to include alt-metal, prog-metal, thrash, industrial, math-rock, art-rock and psychedelic rock, with influences ranging from Black Sabbath to King Crimson to Pink Floyd and others.
Because of the band's extreme attention to detail, as well several pesky lawsuits that have slowed down their output, fans are used to waiting for lengthy periods between releases. Tool formed in 1990, but their catalog includes less than a half-dozen albums and one EP. There's also some DVDs, plus 2000's Salival, a limited-edition compilation of live songs, outtakes and videos.
Tool fill their albums with as many songs, instrumentals and soundscapes to max out CDs' 80-minute length. So, listening and wading through all those lyrical and musical layers can be as rewarding as it is exhausting. There’s a consistency maintained by the band’s four musical components and a creative advancement that distinguishes each release. All of which makes our list of Tool Albums Ranked Worst to Best a far from easy task.