Having never really been a Metal fan of any sort, I still to this day find it surprising that I am such a dedicated follower of Tool. They are simply one of those bands that can - despite their particular genre - appeal to the masses; anyone with an ear for a hypnotic melody or a sophisticated ensemble will appreciate the magnificence of their sheer musicianship.
Still, the band comes under a lot of stick for being overly pretentious. However if it were not for Tool's self-absorbed blend of art-rock and progressive thrash metal, then the alternative scene as we know it today would be somewhat very different.
And in truth, Tool's influence on the music scene came about some ten years ago with the release of this very record. A tour de force of aggressive elegance, Ænima holds the listener from the opening "Stink Fist", with its powerful breaks and dynamic melodies, to the momentous "Third Eye". Maynard James Keenan's unique vocal style is the most obvious individuality Tool have over their contempories; however, the vigorous authority of the rythmn section and Adam Jones' archetypal guitar playing (combining the traditional heavy-rock Jimmy Page-style riffs with Robert Fripp-esque overtones) help to display Tool's dominance over the rock scene.
Throughout Tool's 14 years, they have developed greatly as musicians - the most prominant development can be seen between the more simplistic "Undertow" (released in 1993) and this record. Ænima remains the band's finest effort to date, and even if you're not a Metal fan in the slightest, this is still worth checking out for its sheer brilliance.