Tool is by no means meant for the casual listener. Their music defies traditional songwriting, dynamically surges from crushing distortion to soft beauty, plays with time signatures, bears some of the most interesting lyrics available, and doesn’t give a damn about song length to ensure radio play. Add to this list the band’s love of the occult and teasing fans with the possibilities that their lyrics and music hide a deeper meaning. Everything combined makes Tool one of the most challenging, well-respected and fascinating bands releasing music these days.
And so I decided that my love of the band should be used to rank their discography. Having listened to each album more times than I can count, I feel very comfortable in my decisions. Note that I am only doing the four full-length albums and I’m not including the Opiate EP nor the Salival release.
This is by no means an easy task. Having been a fan of Tool for more years than I can easily count, I realize that these albums each represent a different period of my life and I have certain memories associated with each one. Still, I’ll do my best to remain objective. So, join me below to find out my “From Worst To Best” with Tool.
I feel almost dirty saying that this is my personal worst Tool album. I realize just how personal and meaningful it is to singer Maynard James Keenan, considering the lyrical nature of “Wings For Marie” and “10,000 Days”, which are odes to the passing of his mother. But I can’t help but feel that these tracks wander aimlessly, almost meandering about trying to find the time to coalesce.
Then there is the seemingly pointless “Lipan Conjuring”, which doesn’t match the importance or effect of AEnima’s “Intermission” or Lateralus’ “Eon Blue Apocalypse”. Those tracks at least build up and enhance the following tracks, “Jimmy” and “Patient” respectively.
The final track, “Vigniti Tres” doesn’t seem to serve much of a purpose. Lateralus’ “Faaip De Oiad” had a story and a terrifying atmosphere that was very Tool-esque (much like Undertow’s “Disgustipated”), which “Vigniti Tres” lacked.
However, I must say that songs like “The Pot” and “Jambi” are incredible and “Right In Two” may very well be one of my favorite Tool songs.
Easily Tool’s most sinister album but nowhere near as polished. This can easily be attributed to it being their debut full-length as well as the fact that the lack of polish actually serves to help the songs and their atmosphere. Definitely the angriest Tool has been.
However, it seemed like the band hadn’t really figured out exactly what possibilities there were available to them. They still played within boundaries.
A very strong album but I’m still going to have to put it third overall.
It was incredibly difficult trying to decide between this album and Lateralus as to who gets the crown. Both albums are astonishing, defining pieces of music. So choosing between the two of them as to which gets the crown was something I agonized over for days.
It’s a complex and fierce album that mixes the long, epic songs Tool is now known for with the shorter, in-your-face heavy hitters that fans can’t get enough of at concerts. Melodic and thrilling, AEnima will always remain one of my favorite albums of all time.
Where AEnima is clearly the heaviest, most visceral Tool album, Lateralus is the pièce de résistance. It’s more a work of art with stellar songwriting and fascinating, heartrending lyrics. It’s also a source of great mystery and intrigue with the listeners, who devoted time and energy into creating an alternate track list based upon the Fibonacci sequence, of which they took inspiration from the lyrics themselves.
Something about this album made the band just seem to coalesce into a machine that knew how to work perfectly well with each other.
This album also features my personal favorite Tool song “Reflection”. Talk about a song that builds layer upon layer and comes to an astonishing climax. Not to mention the whole trilogy (“Disposition”, “Reflection”, and “Triad”) is an incredible journey.
Alright Tool fans, now that I’ve said my piece, what are your thoughts? What should the order be?