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The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time

The most headbangable records ever, from Metallica's Black Album to Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid'

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Tool, 'Ænima' (1996)
100
18/100

18. Tool, 'Ænima' (1996)

By definition, metal bands are heavy musically, but Tool is also heavy in the emotional sense. The title of their second album, Ænima, although invented by the band, is meant in part to evoke Jung's concept of the "anima," or life force, and the LP is riddled with existential ruminations on why we're here and whether it's worth it. "How could this mean anything to me?" mutters Maynard James Keenan's protagonist in "Stinkfist," and his delivery is so convincingly wolrd-weary you almost don't notice that he's singing about having his arm "shoulder deep" up someone's rectum. Engaging, unrepentant creeps are a Tool specialty, and Ænima crawls with them. There's the charismatic bully of "Eulogy," the obsessed fan at the heart of "Hooker with a Penis," the misanthrope in "Ænima" who, imagining California's tumble into the sea, sneers, "Learn to swim." Keenan illuminates the joy in malevolence, while the richly detailed thunder conjured by the prog-inflected drum and guitar parts only amplifies the twisted anima at work. The enthralling blend helped Ænima go double platinum, and turned Tool from alt-metal trailblazers to one of the staple heavy bands of the past 20-plus years. "There are a lot of metaphysical, spiritual and emotional changes going on right now, and we're just trying to reflect that," Keenan told Rolling Stone in '96. "We're not that different from Tori Amos in that sense." J.D.C.

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