With Tool‘s highly anticipated new album, Fear Inoculum, just around the corner, we thought it was the perfect time to dive deep into their catalog and dissect their five major releases, from their 1991 debut EP, Opiate, to 2006’s 10,000 Days. Below, from worst to best, we’ve ranked their formidable discography. If you disagree, sound off on The Pit Facebook page.
Newly signed to a major label after playing just seven shows, Tool picked their heaviest songs at the time and recorded this tightly wound, hard-hitting EP, which barely hints at the progressive things to come. The songwriting is excellent and the vitriol feels very real, but there’s no denying that Opiate is primitive by the band’s standards.
4. 10,000 Days
Epic and conceptual, Tool’s last full-length showcases the band at the height of their virtuosity and ambition. Yet despite the strength of now-classic cuts such as “Vicarious” and Justin Bieber favorite “The Pot,” the sometimes-meandering set is sadly not all killer, no filler.
The first momentous step in Tool’s evolution, Undertow took Opiate’s darkness and aggression and shaped it into something more nuanced and vulnerable. Still, as singer Maynard James Keenan has said, the album, along with the preceding EP, represent the band’s “primal scream,” while later releases would achieve something more transcendent and constructive.
With their breakthrough second full-length, the band stopped wallowing in darkness and uncovered for some light at the end of the tunnel. Stunningly creative and consciousness expanding, Ænima was the moment when Tool truly became Tool.
With Lateralus, Tool fully realized their vision and embraced their identity as the new high priests of progressive rock and metal. As the album’s striking artwork by psychedelic painter Alex Grey suggests, this is more than just music, this is visionary art.