When you think of Tool, what image comes to mind? Is it frontman Maynard James Keenan in one of his endless array of outlandish costumes? Is it a stop-motion animated figure convulsing wildly? Or do you have trouble associating any one image with the band at all? Maybe you instead only hear the sound – the ferocious guitars, the pummeling polyrhythms and Keenan's preternatural vocals. That's because the only thing Tool are better at than creating ominous, experimental metal is being intentionally enigmatic.

Emerging out of Los Angeles in the early '90s, Tool (Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, drummer Danny Carey and bassist Paul D'Amour then Justin Chancellor) arrived just as grunge had a stranglehold on pop culture. But the band's cerebral amalgam of classic heavy metal, prog and art rock instantly separated Tool from the mediocre metal masses. Much like the Beastie Boys infused hip-hop culture into alternative nation, Tool did the same with metal – bending it with the aesthetics of alternative to become something altogether original all while remaining relatively faceless.

Although they've only released four full-lengths (and haven't released a new one since 2006), there might be no more influential band on the metallic edge of the rock spectrum. We rank their albums (along with a couple other notable releases) above. Since everything they make borders on masterpiece status, there's a good chance you've got your own order, but if this prompts you to listen to at least one Tool song today, we'll consider it a task worth doing.

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