18 Amazing Bands Similar To Tool 

Written by Dan Farrant
Last updated

For over 30 years, alternative metal and prog rock band Tool has been releasing groundbreaking music. The Grammy-winning group continues to inspire fans and other bands alike to this day.

If you’re a fan and want to discover other music groups with a similar sound, you don’t have to look further than the list below.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 18 bands like Tool and provide an irresistible audio journey for fans eager to delve deeper into the alternative and heavy metal world. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Tool by 350z33 (CC BY-SA 4.0)

1. Deftones

The alternative metal band hailing from Sacramento, California, Deftones are often compared to Tool due to their experimental sound and complex song structures. Their music can be described as a blend of heavy metal, post-metal, art rock, and even electronic.

Some of Deftones’ most notable albums include White Pony and Around the Fur. The former was heavily praised by critics for their boundary-pushing sound, which blended elements of trip-hop and shoegaze into their signature style with ease. The latter, too, was a massive hit that showcased Deftones’ heavier side while still maintaining their experimental edge.

One of the countless standout tracks from their discography is “Change (In the House of Flies),” which features Chino Moreno’s haunting vocals over atmospheric guitar riffs. Luckily, there are dozens of other stellar cuts to explore too.

If you’re a fan of Tool’s intricate compositions but want something a bit more aggressive at times, be sure to give Deftones a listen. You won’t be disappointed!

2. A Perfect Circle

Our next top recommendation for fans of Tool is A Perfect Circle. This American alternative rock band was formed in Los Angeles in 1999 by Tool’s vocalist Maynard James Keenan and songwriter/guitarist Billy Howerdel.

A Perfect Circle shares many similarities with Tool, including their progressive metal sound, weighty themes, and deep lyrics. However, they also stand out on their own, thanks to their fusion of post-grunge, art rock, industrial rock, and psychedelic rock influences.

The effortless combination of musical styles makes A Perfect Circle’s discography an absolute treat for the ears. Check out their albums like Mer De Noms and Thirteenth Step to see what the hype is all about!

3. Coheed And Cambria

Established in Nyack, New York, in 1995, Coheed and Cambria is a popular alternative rock band known for their complex mix of heavy metal, punk rock, and progressive rock. Today, they are one of the most highly regarded bands in the genre.

Melodic vocal performances, captivating guitar riffs, and multifaceted song structures are all key components of Coheed and Cambria’s music. Not only that, they’re pros at composing exciting concept albums based on science fiction storylines, like In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3.

Just like Tool, Coheed and Cambria have a love for unconventional, complex sounds, the essence of which can be found in their unique music. So if you’re looking for something fresh and unorthodox, this is definitely the band for you. 

4. Mastodon

The Atlanta-based heavy metal band Mastodon has been around since the early 2000s. The talented group is known for their progressive rock, sludge metal, and psychedelic rock music.

In an impressive catalog of albums, Once More Round the Sun and Emperor of Sand remain some of their most popular projects. You can expect distorted guitars, aggressive drums, and consistent innovation in their music, all of which have led to the band becoming a household name today.

If you’re a fan of Tool, Mastodon’s music might be right up your alley since they share several musical traits. Both bands push endless boundaries and experiment with different sounds and structures, ultimately displaying just how much heavy metal can achieve.

5. Puscifer

As another band that shares similarities with Tool, Puscifer is known for their experimental and artistic approach to rock music. Interestingly enough, famed singer and lyricist Maynard James Keenan serves as the driving force behind both bands.

Formed in Los Angeles in 2007, Puscifer combines elements of alternative rock and electronica to create an immersive audio-visual experience. Their live performances often contain theatrical displays that captivate audiences while reinforcing their thought-provoking lyrics.

This unique blend of musical styles calls to mind the progressive nature inherent in bands similar to Tool. Today, the quality of Puscifer’s music speaks for itself, thanks to outstanding tracks like “Conditions of My Parole,” “The Remedy,” and many more.

6. Porcupine Tree

English band Porcupine Tree is a highly regarded progressive rock group that secured their place in this list due to their similar musical influences and unique approach to the craft. Formed in 1987, the band has drawn inspiration from iconic groups like Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream.

As you dive into Porcupine Tree’s discography, you will notice the intricate layers of musical styles blending together effortlessly. From “Four Chords That Made a Million” to “Shallow,” the band has countless tracks that serve as a testament to their dedication to experimentation.

All in all, both bands possess a penchant for experimenting with various music genres and pushing boundaries when it comes to songwriting and performance techniques. Give Porcupine Tree a listen, and we promise you won’t regret it!

7. Meshuggah

Formed in 1987, the Swedish heavy metal group Meshuggah often gets compared to Tool due to their unique approach to progressive metal music. Their complex time signatures, technical guitar playing, and experimental sound have earned them a wide following.

Their albums Koloss and The Violent Sleep of Reason earned top spots on the US Indie chart, while “Clockworks” from the latter album received a Grammy nod for Best Metal Performance.

Meshuggah’s hard-hitting tracks with intricate musical structures showcase the band’s talent for creating intense soundscapes that can captivate listeners from start to finish.

8. Opeth

Another Swedish band, Opeth has been active since the early 1990s. Though similar to Tool in their progressive music style, the band incorporates elements from various genres, including death metal, folk, jazz, and classical, making them unique.

Often praised for their songwriting and musicianship skills, Opeth is one of the most innovative bands in the genre. Similar to Tool, this band is known for exploring philosophical themes and opting for layered song structures to create an unforgettable listening experience.

Unsurprisingly, Opeth’s passion for music has resulted in a massive fan base and widespread acclaim. With stunning cuts like “Windowpane,” “Sorceress,” and “In My Time of Need” in their catalog, it’s safe to say they have a bright future ahead of them.

9. Karnivool

From the Land Down Under, progressive rock band Karnivool shares the musical style and experimental approach of Tool. Formed in 1997, the band draws from a diverse range of influences as well, such as alternative metal, post-grunge, heavy metal, nu metal, and many more.

One notable element that sets Karnivool apart is their ability to create intricate song structures and immersive melodies. Like Tool, they delve into deep themes in their lyrics while showcasing impressive musicianship throughout each album.

With impressive works like Asymmetry, Themata, and Sound Awake in their discography, Karnivool has created quite the name for itself in the music industry and provided fans with countless tracks to remember.

10. Russian Circles

Fans who love Tool’s progressive style but want a darker sound might resonate with Russian Circles. Formed in Chicago, Illinois, in 2004, their music is often characterized as atmospheric and heavy and also features intricate guitar work and dynamic drumming.

By blending elements of metal, rock, and even shoegaze, Russian Circles has gained a massive fan following over the years. Albums like Geneva, Empros, and Blood Year have received incredible critical acclaim as well.

Similar to Tool, Russian Circles frequently experiments with unconventional sounds and incorporates complex rhythms into their music, and it is this very sonic exploration that results in such high-quality music.

11. Intronaut

Our next band has been making outstanding music since 2004. Like Tool, the progressive metal band Intronaut hails from Los Angeles, California.

They also share similarities with Tool in their unique style of heavy music incorporated with elements of alternative rock, post-metal, experimental rock, and art rock, among others.

The band’s technical musicianship, combined with their emotive vocal performances, results in an electrifying experience for listeners. Check out their hit albums Habitual Levitations and The Direction of Last Things to see what makes Intronaut so special.

12. Isis

Formed in Boston in 1997, Isis was a post-metal band known for their experimental sound. The group masterfully blended elements of sludge metal, ambient music, and progressive rock to create complex and multifaceted masterpieces.

Thanks to the intricate guitar work and aggressive drumming patterns, the band’s music left no stone unturned in capturing the attention of their audience. Isis also incorporated several dark themes and introspective lyrics into their tracks, which is something that all Tool fans would appreciate.

Though the band disbanded in 2010, they remain incredibly influential and highly respected in the music industry to this day. And with high-quality albums like Panopticon and Oceanic, it’s not hard to see why.

13. Cult Of Luna

Next up, we have the Swedish post-metal group Cult of Luna. Like many on this list, the band is often compared to Tool because of their similar sound and composition.

Established in 1998, Cult of Luna became known for their skill to effortlessly blend heavy metal with progressive rock, creating a distinct and captivating listening experience.

Some of their most intriguing albums are Mariner, A Dawn to Fear, and The Long Road North—all of which ranked in the top 20 of the UK’s Rock and Metal chart.  

Simply put, Cult of Luna is a name to remember, and fans of Tool will be happy to know that the band includes various introspective and philosophical themes in their music. By exploring significant concepts like isolation and loss, Cult of Luna challenges listeners to really reflect on life.

14. King Crimson

One of the pioneers of progressive rock, English band King Crimson has left an indelible mark on the music scene. Their sound is known for its dark, atmospheric qualities, often accompanied by thought-provoking lyrics, much like Tool’s.

The band’s debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King, released in 1969, is considered a landmark in the progressive rock genre. It features complex musical arrangements, innovative use of Mellotron and other instruments, and a blend of rock, jazz, and classical influences.

King Crimson has since released 12 more albums, each one showcasing their evolution and experimentation, incorporating new members, and pushing the boundaries of their sound. And despite several hiatuses and reformations, they remain an active band.

15. Circa Survive

Formed in 2004 by former Saosin vocalist Anthony Green and guitarist Colin Frangicetto, Pennsylvanian rock band Circa Survive has carved out a distinct musical identity characterized by their intricate compositions, emotive performances, and introspective lyrics.

With a blend of alternative rock, post-hardcore, and progressive elements, Circa Survive has consistently pushed boundaries and captivated listeners with their immersive soundscapes and dynamic songwriting, similar to that of Tool’s.

They dropped their debut album, Juturna, in 2005, which received positive reviews and helped establish their presence in the progressive rock scene.

Subsequent releases like On Letting Go and Blue Sky Noise continued to showcase Circa Survive’s ability to craft deeply personal and cathartic music, making the group a compelling force in the rock landscape.

16. Hurt

Alternative rock band Hurt was formed in 2000 by lead vocalist and primary songwriter J. Loren Wince. Hailing from Virginia, Hurt gained recognition for their emotionally intense music. Similar to Tool, they blend elements of alternative metal rock, progressive rock, and hard rock to create a unique sonic experience.

Notable albums are Vol. I and Vol. II. The former showcased their dark and introspective sound, while the latter further solidified their unique style. Another can’t-miss hit album is Goodbye to the Machine, which they released in 2009.

Despite having disbanded in 2013, Hurt’s music continues to resonate with fans who appreciate their style. With their captivating works, Hurt made a lasting impact on the rock scene, leaving behind a legacy that continues to influence fans and music artists to this day.

17. Chevelle

Formed in 1995, alternative rock band Chevelle gained prominence in the early 2000s with their distinctive blend of heavy, guitar-driven sound and introspective lyrics.

Chart-topping tracks like “The Red,” “Send the Pain Below,” and “Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)” showcase their ability to create hard-hitting, emotionally charged songs that leave a lasting impact.

This day, the band continues to create a sonic experience that resonates with fans seeking the intensity and depth found in Tool’s music.

However, Chevelle has not only captivated audiences with their raw energy, but they have also garnered comparisons to Tool in part due to the striking similarities between lead singer Pete Loeffler’s voice and that of Tool’s iconic frontman, Maynard James Keenan.

This similarity in vocal tone and delivery adds an extra layer of appeal for those who appreciate Tool’s distinctive sound and are drawn to bands that explore similar sonic territories.

18. Dream Theater

Ending our list is Dream Theater, known for their exceptional musicianship and elaborate compositions since the late 1980s. Like Tool, the Massachusetts-based group has been a driving force in progressive metal.

Dream Theater’s remarkable talent for crafting epic musical journeys has garnered them a dedicated fanbase, as well as widespread critical acclaim. They have been recognized with prestigious accolades, including a Best Metal Performance Grammy Award for the track “The Alien.”

Their album Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory, too, is often hailed as a masterpiece of the genre, peaking at #2 on Billboard’s Top Internet Albums and landing the top spot of Rolling Stone’s Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time” Readers’ Poll.

In a genre known for its technical complexity and artistic ambition, Dream Theater stands as a shining example of progressive metal at its finest, and they remain a cornerstone of the genre.

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like Tool

To sum it up, if you’re a Tool fan looking for similar music to satisfy your craving for progressive rock and heavy metal, be sure to check out the 13 bands mentioned in this article.

From Deftones to Karnivool to Dream Theater, there are countless exciting options for all of you heavy metal enthusiasts, and we guarantee you’ll find something enjoyable to add to your Spotify playlists. Happy listening!

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Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.