Add these bands like Tool to your next playlist
In 2019, Tool’s fifth and long-awaited studio album Fear Inoculum debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album chart, knocking Taylor Swift’s Lover off the throne, and one thing became abundantly clear: Tool’s cult-like fanbase is as strong and devoted as ever.
The Los Angeles-based, four-time Grammy Award-winning progressive metal band has amassed millions of fans since forming in 1990. The group is most known for songs such as Ænima, Schism, Lateralus and 7empest.
The band’s early music displayed an aggressive bravado with singles such as Hush and Opiate, attuned to their raw and uncontrolled energy at that time. However, it wasn’t until their third album, Ænima, that their music took a psychedelic turn — and eventually evolved into the band that many know and love today.
With music that crosses genre boundaries from abrasive alt-metal to sonic mantras and psychedelics, these bands like Tool will satisfy your craving for prog rock to a tee. Have a listen to all these tracks on our Spotify playlist.
Soen’s music is melodic, heavy, and undeniably Tool-esque. The progressive metal supergroup from Stockholm, Sweden was founded by ex-Opeth and Amon Amarth drummer Martin Lopez, together with vocalist Joel Ekelöf of Willowtree, bassist Steve Di Giorgio (of Death, Testament, and Sadus fame), and guitarist Kim Platbarzdis.
With progressive influences and dark, introspective themes, there’s no denying that Soen has been significantly influenced by bands like Tool—lead singer Martin has even said he considers them “not only a band but a genre”. Their earlier albums, Cognitive and Telluria, are heavily similar to Tool, although a shift in band members has reinvigorated their music with a newer, more diverse sound featuring keyboards, percussion, and string instruments.
Like Tool, Leprous is considered as one of the most avant-garde bands in the prog scene. This Norwegian progressive metal band was founded by vocalist and keyboardist Einar Solberg and guitarist Tor Oddmund Suhrke back in 2001, and gained major recognition in its early days as the backing band of former Emperor frontman Ihsahn and as supporting act for metal bands such as Therion.
Leprous’ music has come a long way since then. The band’s first four albums were melodically a blend of prog and melodeath, while their newer albums, starting from 2015’s The Congregation, started throwing in some prog-pop sensibilities. Over the years, the band has continued to keep fans on their toes with a constantly evolving sound—most recently with its sixth studio album, Pitfalls, which featured violins, the cello, and a classic choir.
Since their debut album, Aquarius, in 2010, Haken has become one of the more widely acclaimed bands in the prog metal genre. Their recently released sixth studio album, Virus, doesn’t disappoint, living up to their fans’ expectations with songs such as Prosthetic and Invasion, which are head-spinning, punchy and just downright brilliant. Any listener who loves Tool’s prog-rock sound will instantly connect with Haken’s constant experimentation and willingness to push the boundaries of the genre.
Like Tool, Porcupine Tree’s music traverses the psychedelic rock, heavy metal, and progressive metal genre. Their music is tricky to categorize, and die-hard Tool fans will love their noteworthy, complex, and ‘beautifully trippy music’ that ingeniously uses unconventional sounds (such as a busy ringtone) as an instrument. Like Tool, Porcupine Tree’s music has influenced a slew of bands such as Katatonia, Gorguts, Ahab, and Also Eden.
Porcupine Tree was active between 1987 and 2010, during which they produced and released 10 studio albums, including Absentia, Deadwing, and Fear of a Blank Planet. With their distinct sound and extensive discography, this band could easily start making its way into your Tool-inspired playlists.
PURE REASON REVOLUTION
After a 10-year hiatus, duo Jon Courtney and Chloë Alper have rekindled British pro-psychedelic rock band Pure Reason Revolution. The band’s latest album, Eupnea, revitalized their signature sound with a more modern, electronic twist—and for many, this return is arguably one of the best things that has happened to music in 2020.
PRR’s edgy, unpredictable sound and dreamy vocals make them the perfect band for any fan of Tool’s exciting, eccentric and multi-influenced musical style. However, buckle in and get ready for a long musical journey—the shortest song on Eupnea is just under 5 minutes long, while the longest goes for a whopping 13 minutes and 23 seconds.
Guitarist Ben Levin and vocalist Courtney Swain started the Boston-based art-rock band Bent Knee while studying at Berklee College of Music. Similar to Tool, their music tackles big themes, such as the complexity of humanity and society—and, similar to Tool, this duo produces music that is remarkable, vertiginous, and inventive from all angles.
Graced with Swain’s hauntingly beautiful vocals and Levin’s almost-mad musical genius, their elegant prog-metal songs are laced with jazz, soul, and even bits of classic rock. Tracks such as Holy Ghost, Hold Me In, and Terror Bird are well worth adding to the playlist if you love envelope-pushing, genre-melding music.
Suns of the Tundra
Suns of the Tundra (SOTT) is a Brit-prog band that shares the same fondness for odd time signatures, and the two groups have something else in common; Justin Chancellor was SOTT’s bassist before officially joining Tool’s lineup in 1996.
Formerly known as the band Peach, SOTT was reformed under its current name by Simon Oakes and Rob Havis in the 2000s. The band has four acclaimed albums under their belt, including the self-titled Suns of the Tundra, Tunguska, Almost the Right People/Illuminate, and their most recent 2015 release, Bones of Brave Ships.
Israel is one of the least likely places where a Tool fan would expect to find similar bands, but Ninet goes against the status quo in every single way. Singer-songwriter and actress Nati Ninet Tayeb is one of the most influential voices in Israeli music, and first rose to fame when she won the first season of Israeli pop idol reality show Kochav Nolad in 2003.
Much akin to Tool, Ninet’s songs of melancholia and defeat are expressed through beautiful songwriting and emotionally fuelled music. The 36-year-old’s visceral rock-n-roll sound and incredible guitar skills have garnered attention across the globe, leading her to work with the likes of award-winning producer Mike Crossey of Arctic Monkeys fame. Ninet has also lent her powerhouse vocals to Porcupine Tree frontline Steven Wilson’s solo studio tracks, such as Routine, Pariah, Blank Tapes, and People Who Eat The Darkness.