No one crafts equally perverse and philosophical slices of prog metal quite like Tool. Indeed, the quartet (drummer Danny Carey, vocalist Maynard James Keenan, bassist Justin Chancellor, and guitarist Adam Jones) have spent the last 30-odd years fusing the industrial salaciousness of Nine Inch Nails with the mesmeric sophistication of Pink Floyd and King Crimson, yielding a beloved sound all their own.
The acclaimed band, set to play a handful of US festivals in 2023 (get tickets here), has evolved significantly without losing sight of its most vital trademarks, ensuring that all of its work feels at home within the same catalog.
In a nutshell, 1993’s Undertow and 1995’s Ænima perpetuated rougher and more risqué syntheses of progressive and alternative metal. Then, 2001’s landmark Lateralus offered a perfect bridge between that glorious griminess and the more artsy and academic approach of 2006’s 10,000 Days and 2019’s Fear Inoculum. Throughout it all, Tool have upheld a brilliantly characteristic knack for challenging rhythms, twisted guitarwork, emotional yet empowered vocals, arresting music videos, and stirring artwork (often provided by Jones).
Naturally, Tool have earned plenty of praise for those triumphs, including six Grammy nominations (with three wins) and the “Top Rock Album” trophy at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards. Dozens of other artists — from metal siblings like Mastodon, TesseracT, Gojira, Chevelle, and Karnivool to less obvious acts like Tame Impala and St. Vincent — consider them an influence, as well.
Although they’ve penned dozens of great tunes over the years, some clearly outshine others. So, to coincide with the kickoff of Tool’s 2022 US tour (get tickets here), we’re offering our picks for 10 of the quartet’s tracks that truly reign supreme.
— Jordan Blum,