21 Bands Similar to Tool

Fans of the band Tool wait for their concert performance in Madrid.

Tool is an American rock band that formed in 1990 in the City of Angels, Los Angeles. The band originally had bassist Paul D’Amour, drummer Danny Carey, guitarist Adam Jones, and lead vocalist Maynard James Keenan. Justin Chancellor replaced the bassist in 1995, and the band went on to win four Grammy Awards.

Tool has released five studio albums that had heavy tones of alternative heavy metal and were all critically acclaimed and internationally adored. Before releasing their most recent album, Fear Inoculum, in 2019, the band had sold whopping 13 million albums in America alone.

If you’re a fan of Tool and you’re looking to branch out musically, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we’ll look at bands that are both similar to and inspired by Tool. We’ll even look at various bands that have collaborated and have toured with Tool.

Table of Contents

1. King Crimson

Eyes Wide Open

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Every legend has an influence. For Tool, King Crimson was that band. Forming back in 1968, the London-based progressive rock band is ranked at number 87 on the VH1’s Greatest Artists of Hard Rock list.

With a lengthy list of members of the band in its half-century lifetime thus far, Robert Fripp is the last remaining original band member is known to have steered the ship of musical influence. The other original members include Greg Lake on bass and vocals, Michael Giles on drums, multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, and songwriter Peter Sinfield.

King Crimson released 13 studio albums and is considered to be the pioneering band for progressive rock. Releasing The Construkction of Light in early 2000, Crimson did a double bill tour with Tool. Maynard had joked on tour that the source of his unique sound was revealed once they performed alongside each other.

2. Slayer

South Of Heaven

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Slayer is a thrash metal band that formed back in 1981 in Huntington Park, California. The founding members were bassist and vocalist Tom Araya, drummer Dave Lombardo, guitarist Jeff Hanneman, and guitarist Kerry King. Paul Bostaph had replaced Lombardo on drums, and Gary Holt replaced Hanneman in the early 2010s.

Their sound has been influential for many bands in the Nu-Metal genre, and as you can see on their album artwork, they address social issues. Their jab at society has resulted in many lawsuits and banning of their albums from being sold.

Regardless, they continued to release twelve studio albums and sold over twenty million records worldwide with their most recent album, Repentless, in 2015. Their third album from 1986, Reign in Blood, is known as being one of the most influential albums in the nu-metal and thrash metal community.

Slayer had helped pave the way for bands like Tool. Coming full circle, Slayer had toured with Tool on the Aftershock tour in 2016.

3. Green Jellÿ

Garbage Band Kids [Explicit]

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Don’t let the band name fool you, Green Jellÿ is an alternative heavy metal band with a lot of comedy in their material and a lot to say. Green Jellÿ started in 1981 in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Their name was originally Green Jello, but due to the Jell-O brand infringement, they changed the spelling, but it still sounds the same.

Vocalist Bill Manspeaker has been the only consistent band member as many artists came and went for the experience. One of the many notable members was in the 1990s when the legend himself, Maynard James Keen, and his trusted drummer Danny Carey featured over the five years on different songs and music videos.

In fact, Maynard is even mentioned in Soundgarden’s “Green Jellö Theme Song” and appears in the music video “Slave Boy” The whacky band has released five studio albums, with their most recent album, Garbage Killer Soundtrack, in 2021 and features “Weird Al” Yankovic so expect some interesting content.

4. Porcupine Tree

The Incident [Explicit]

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Porcupine Tree is a progressive rock band from Hertfordshire, England. Formed by the creative songwriter and vocalist Seven Wilson in 1983 as a solo project who had written all the music. By 1993, he welcomed Colin Edwin on bass, Chris Maitland on drums, and keyboardist Richard Barbieri. Maitland was replaced by Gavin Harrison in 2002.

Their musical journey had tapped into a lot of experimental progressive metal that accumulated an impressive following. Releasing ten studio albums with their last album, The Incident, being released in 2009. It was their most successful album commercially, earning them a Grammy Award nomination for Best Surround Sound Album.

The band disbanded in 2018 because Wilson wanted to focus on his solo career. Many progressive rock fans have compared Tool and Porcupine trees for decades. Their music continues to circulate around mainstream culture. It’s a band you should know if you love and appreciate alternative or progressive rock music.

5. Primus

Sailing The Seas Of Cheese

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Primus is a metal funk band that started back in 1984 in El Sobrante, California, and is known to be one of the strangest bands out there. Primus originally had Todd Huth on guitar, Jay Lane on drums, and Les Claypool on bass and lead vocals.

In 1988, Huth and Lane left and were replaced with guitarist Larry “Ler” LaLonde and drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander. After Alexander was replaced with Bryan “Brain” Mantia in 1996, they released two more albums, as well as the popular theme song

Primus has now released nine studio albums, with their last album, The Desaturating Seven, which was released in 2017 and received positive reviews. Primus has also toured with Tool back on the Aftershock Tour in 2016 and has often been compared to Tool.

6. Soundgarden

Louder Than Love [Explicit]

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Soundgarden is one of the better-known bands on this list. They’re an alternative heavy metal band from Seattle, Washington. Soundgarden was started in 1984 by the legendary Chris Cornell as lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Kim Thayil on lead guitar and bassist Hiro Yamamoto. By 1990, Yamamoto was replaced by Ben Shephard, and Matt Cameron became their permanent drummer.

Soundgarden has released six studio albums, selling over 30 million records worldwide. Their fourth album, released in 1994, Superunknown¸ was their greatest commercial success, debuting at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200 and earning them a Grammy for their two singles, “Black Hole Sun” and “Spoonman”.

The band had parted ways in 1997 and reunited in 2010 to release more music. Their last album, King Animal, was released in 2014 and was critically acclaimed to sound like a group of guys that really understand each other. The band had naturally dissipated after the death of Chris Cornell but came together in 2019 to do a tribute show to their much-loved lead singer.

7. Deftones

Diamond Eyes (Deluxe) [Explicit]

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From Sacramento, California, The Deftones is one of the most experimental alternative metal bands on the scene. Forming in 1988 with Dominic Garcia on bass, Abe Cunningham on drums, lead guitarist Stephen Carpenter, and lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Chino Moreno.

The band had a series of band members in its early formation but remained stable after the turntablist Frank Delgado joined in 1999. In their successful career, they released nine albums and have sold over 10 million albums internationally. Their most recent album, Ohms, released in September 2020 was critically acclaimed that they still have that exceptional edge.

Their third album, White Pony was released in 2000 and was a notable marker of Deftones entering a more experimental space, respectfully earning them No. 3 on the US Billboard charts. Maynard James Keenan collaborated for the one track “Passenger” – so it’s not a far jump from Tool’s sound!

8. Nine-Inch Nails

With Teeth

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If you’re unaware of the band, just before Tool took over the alternative metal scene, industrial rock band Nine-Inch Nails [NIN] was playing on millions of Walkman’s across the States. Formed in 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio, the lead singer and most permanent member of the band, Trent Reznor, wrote all the music and accompanying lyrics.

In fact, time Magazine named him the most influential person of 1997! Reznor always used floating members to join on tour until keyboardist and supporting vocalist Atticus Ross became a permanent member in 2016. NIN had a very successful career, producing ten studio albums, winning 13 Grammy Awards, and having sold more than 20 million records globally.

These reasons are why Nine-Inch Nails was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The members inducted alongside Ross and Reznor were bassist Alessandro Cortini, legend guitarist for Guns ‘n Roses Robin Fink, guitarist and keyboardist Danny Lohner, and drummer Ilan Rubin.

9. Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against The Machine [Explicit]

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Forming in 1991, Rage Against the Machine [RATM] is a rock band from Los Angeles. The band never saw any member changes with Brad Wilk on Drums, Tom Morello on guitar, Tim Commerford on Bass and supporting vocals, and Zack de la Rocha as lead vocalist.

Releasing four studio albums, the band sold over 16 million records across the globe. Their debut album, self-titled and released in 1992, was a huge commercial success and had earned their place on the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The one track on the album “Know Your Enemy” featured – you guessed it – Maynard James Keenan on supporting vocals.

Ranked No. 33 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock, RATM is greatly responsible for the inception of subgenres of metal in the late 1990s. After De la Rocha left in the early 2000s, the remaining members formed the supergroup Prophets of Rage with other notable artists like Cypress Hill in 2016. They released one self-titled album before disbanding in 2019.

10. Failure

Magnified

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Failure was an alternative rock band from Los Angeles and was very present in the music scene in the 1990s. They joined Tool on tour several times in the early 1990s. Once on tour, Adam Jones had played the guitar for the “Macaque” shortly after Failure released their debut album, Comfort, in 1992.

Failure released an impressive five albums in seven years and became inactive from 1997 til 2014 when they reunited and released The Heart of the Monster the following year. Right after announcing their return in 2014, it was also revealed that they would once again open for Tool on their upcoming tour.

Failure has been part of Tool’s performance journey for over 20 years and vice versa. Not only is Failure a band like Tool, but they’re also a band that is very much liked by Tool.

11. System of a Down

Toxicity

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System of a Down was formed in 1994 and is a successful Armenian-American heavy metal band from Glendale, California. The band originally had Andy Khachaturian on drums but was replaced by John Dolmayan in 1997.

The other original members and remain active today. They include bassist and supporting vocalist Shavo Odadjian, Lead rhythm guitarist and co-vocalist Daron Malakian, and lead vocalist and co-rhythm guitarist Serj Tankian.

The band’s very successful career of five studio albums, selling over 40 million records internationally. Three of these five albums reached No. 1 on the US billboard. They’ve been nominated for four Grammys, and in 2006 they won the Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.

After the release of their two albums, Mesmerize and Hypnotize in 2005, the band has released two songs in 14 years as a response to the breakout of violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh war. With a focus on raising awareness and funds, the band hasn’t confirmed the release of a new album.

12. Chevelle

Wonder What's Next (Expanded Edition)

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Chevelle is a rock band from Grayslake, Illinois, that formed in 1995. The original band members were brothers Pete and Same Loeffler alongside bassist and supporting vocalist Matt Scott. Pete was on guitar, and lead vocalist and his brother was the drummer and percussionist. After a few changes over the years, Kemble Walters is the current bassist used when touring.

Chevelle’s successful career produced nine studio albums, with their second album, Wonder What’s Next, reaching No. 24 on the US Billboard 200 in 2002. Their latest album, Niratias, which is an acronym for ‘Nothing Is Real, and This Is a Simulation’, was released in 2021 and has been well-received by their audience.

Chevelle and Tool have very similar sounds, in fact, the members of Chevelle note that Tool is a massive influence on their sound.

13. Tapeworm

Trent Reznor Poster 18" X 24" - Trent Reznor Print

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Trent Reznor from Nine-Inch Nails had a side project called Tapeworm in 1995 that was a supergroup with features of non-other than Maynard James Keenan. One can only imagine the collaborative efforts shared between such influential artists.

The band originally had Trent Reznor, Nine-Inch Nails’ Danny Lohner, and Charlie Clouser. Currently, this supergroup includes Reznor, Lohner, Atticus Ross, Maynard James Keenan, and audio-engineer Alan Moulder.

They never released a full album, in fact, they never released anything after 2004. They had teased fans with two songs “Vacant” and “Potions”, playing them at A Perfect Circle concert. Even though there are only two tracks released, it’s an important project to know if you’re a super fan of Tool. Aren’t you curious to know how the songs sound?

Here’s Vacant by Tapeworm

14. Karnivool

Sound Awake

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Karnivool is an alternative metal band that formed in 1997, down in Perth, Australia. Originally starting as a high school band with vocalist Ian Kenny and guitarist Drew Goddard. Today, they have Jon Stockman on bass, Steve Judd on drums, and Mark Hosking also on guitar.

The band released three studio albums, with their most recent album, Asymmetry, released in 2013. The album was nominated for the Australian Band of the Year at the J Awards that same year.

Karnivool makes this list for they’ve mastered complex melodies and some serious guitar riffs that align them with the genre that is Tool. Even though their discography is small, the sound is potent and powerful. Karnivool, like Tool, has a sound that leaves you wanting more, keeping their devoted fans on the edge of their seat in anticipation of a new album.

15. A Perfect Circle

Mer De Noms [Explicit]

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If you’re a super fan of Tool, you’ve probably heard of Maynard James Keenan’s supergroup A Perfect Circle. Formed in 1998, Billy Howerdel with Tool’s lead singer and songwriter Maynard Keenan were the only consistent members throughout the band’s lifetime. They had expressed the band to be a bit of a feminine, vulnerable sound in comparison to Tool.

The original bass player was Paz Lenchantin, Josh Freese on drums, and on guitar was Troy Van Leeuwen. The current bassist is Matt McJunkins with Jeff Friedl on drums, and James Iha – guitarist for Smashing Pumpkins – on strings.

Regardless of the number of band members, the sound has remained unique and consistent. A Perfect Circle produced four studio albums in the early 2000s and had sold around 4 million copies by 2005. Their last album, Eat the Elephant, was released in 2018 and was a great commercial success.

16. Audioslave

The Hultsfred Festival

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Audioslave is an alternative metal rock band formed in 2001 and is considered one of the most incredible supergroups in music history. Audioslave impressed the world by creating a unique sound with these established artists from successful bands.

Based in Glendale, California, the band most comprised of Rage Against the Machine members with Brad Wilk on drums, Tim Commerford on Bass and supporting vocals, Tom Morello on lead guitar, and Soundgarden’s lead singer Chris Cornell on vocals and rhythm guitar.

They released three studio albums over the six-year span and sold over eight million records around the world. Revelations were their last album in 2006 and were internationally very well-loved. Audioslave had disbanded after the unfortunate departure of frontman Chris Cornell.

This supergroup is filled with members from bands that are inspired by Tool, you can only imagine how unique their sound is.

17. RISHLOO

Terras Fames

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Rishloo is a progressive rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington, in 2002. The band members are all original, with Sean Rydquist on bass, Jesse Smith on drums, Dave Gillet on guitar, and Andrew Mailloux. Their memorable live performance and thought-provoking lyrics have been compared and associated with Tool.

Mailloux left the band in 2012 and the remaining members started The Ghost Apparatus in the same year and went to release a few singles. The following year, Mailloux and the band reunited and released their fourth album together, Living as Ghosts with Buildings as Teeth, in 2014. Their last album has been dubbed their greatest masterpiece, it’s worth checking out.

You’ll hear heavy influences from Tool in their sound, but they’ve ensured by pushing the envelope in progressive art-rock that they are a band with a unique sound.

18. Puscifer

V Is for Viagra: the Remixes

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Maynard James Keenan is a busy man and started Puscifer, which was originally named as ‘Umlaut’, as a side project, or as he said, his “creative subconscious”. This band is not as heavy in guitar as Keenan’s other projects as he stays on vocals.

His vocals are supported by the talented guitarist and percussionist Carina Round, alongside Mat Mitchell, who is responsible for the synthesizer, bass, and production. Puscifer released only four albums after debuting in 2007. Their last album, Existential Reckoning, reached No. 7 on the US Billboard Top Alternative Chart in 2020.

Don’t be fooled by Puscifer’s humble fame, the band is believed to be the secret gem enjoyed amongst Tool superfans.

19. Lucid Planet

Zenith

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Lucid Planet is a progressive psychedelic-metal band from Melbourne, Australia. The band formed in 2014 with Luke Turner on lead vocals and bass, Michael Box on guitar, and Darcy Rank on guitar and synth. Rank is also responsible for the production of their two albums, with Lucid Planet II in November 2020.

Their tribal bass and psychedelic sound have already drawn in so many Tool fans in the past, so if you don’t know them – give them a chance. Check out Lucid Planet II and the accompanying visual experience!

20. Wheel

Moving Backwards

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Many fans of Tool consider their music to be a genre, and when you hear bands like the Finnish progressive-metal band Wheel, you can’t help but agree. Forming in 2015 and based in Helsinki, Wheel consists of bassist Aki ‘Conan’ Virta, drummer Santeri Saskala, Jussi Turunen on lead guitar, and James Lascelles as lead vocals and guitar.

They’re one of the lesser-known bands on this list because they released their debut album Moving Backwards in 2019 and their second album, Resident Human, in March 2021.

You’ll hear a lot of inspiration from Tool and A Perfect Circle in their music. A lot of their sound is inspired by Tool’s guitar riffs, and the charisma and stage presence of their lead singer is arguably very similar to Maynard James Keenan.

21. Korn

Life Is Peachy (Ogv) [Vinyl]

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Korn is also one of the better-known bands on this list due to its notable mark on the nu-metal genre since 1993. From Bakersfield, California, the founding members include Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu on bass, David Silveria on drums, James “Munky” Shaffer on rhythm guitar, Brian “Head” Welch on lead guitar and supporting vocals, and Jonathan Davis as lead vocalist and bagpipes player.

Apart from Ray Luzier replacing Silveria in 2007, the band had used many floating arts to play on tour throughout the decades. The band released a whopping amount of thirteen studio albums, selling over 40 million albums worldwide and having eight of their albums break the top 5 in the US Billboard 200.

Korn had gained a lot of popularity after co-headlining alongside Tool in 1997 at the Lollapalooza music festival. If you never gave them a listen, their most recent album, The Nothing, was released in 2019 and was very well critically acclaimed with mature sounds.

Sources:

Rishloo News

Lucid Planet

Wheel Band

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