Wednesday Question: Best Progressive Metal Albums?

What are the best progressive metal albums of all time? Post your nominations here and we'll post a bone-crushing top 10 playlist this Friday.

Ultimate Guitar

Few genres are as technically advanced as progressive metal. But what progressive metal albums are the best in the genre? Progressive metal takes the intellectual ambition of progressive rock and combines with with the weight of heavy metal. The result is a stunning sound which pushed boundaries that neither parent genre can touch. This week's Wednesday Question is:

What are the best progressive metal albums ever?

. There's so many great examples out there that we can't wait to see what you come up with. You might opt for the majesty of Tool, or the jazz-inspired licks of Ephel Duath. Perhaps you like the demented English rasps of Sikth, or the crushing guitar tones of Car Bomb. Whatever you nominate, please post one per comment and up vote those you agree with. YouTube links are welcome! We'll round up the most popular nomination in an awesome tip 10 playlist this Friday. Good luck!

476 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Opeth- Blackeater Park
    Not as popular, but Watershed is amazing too
    I prefer Blackwater Park.. I'll have to hear this Blackeater one though, is it good?
    Actually I prefer Heritage, but that would probably be prog rock more than metal.
    Porcupine Tree - In Absentia
    Seriously! Though my vote's for Fear of a Blank Planet. Anesthetize is such a killer song.
    Dream Theater - Images and Words
    Darth Crow
    This. Prog metal just doesn't get any better than Images...
    I voted for I&W, but I think Awake is an album that deserves recognition. Nothing gets more prog and creative that this one. Also, Labrie is a powerhouse on this album; his best contribution to date, if you ask me.
    Haven't heard "Images and Words", but my favorite DT album has been "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence." I think it should make the list.
    Six degrees is very good, .. but, you haven't heard Images and Words? It's well worth a go lol.
    Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet
    Fuck this is a tough one. My heart tells me any Tool album, but I have to give praise to Between The Buried and Me's "The Great Misdirect"
    awesome album, although i am a bigger fan of Ænima
    I'm with you on that one. I love lateralus but the two albums are like the left and right hand side of your brain, you need both.
    I can't really get into it, and hopefully people aren't praising it just because they managed to incorporate some mathematic notions in it?
    I just think it's hard to find anything wrong with the album whatsoever. Even the artwork (Alex Grey) is awesome.
    dont get me wrong, Lateralus is most certainly a masterpiece. but i personally prefer 10,000 days
    Between the Buried and Me....Colors
    a drummer
    I'm going to agree. Personally Alaska reigns supreme out of their discography imo, but Colors is such a monumental prog-metal album. I'd love to see this #1
    I actually liked Colors Live better. If that counts, then I would actually choose it over the studio version.
    I could be missing something, but is Colors actually a concept album? Other than being recorded as one epic track, which wouldn't make it a concept album imo. Maybe I'm mistaken, I'm not too familiar with the lyrics
    Meshuggah - Obzen
    I can't believe I had to scroll down this far to find this. May not be the first thing one thinks of when "Prog" is mentioned, but it certainly is progressive as hell.
    My Last Words
    Obzen is awesome but if I were to pick a Meshuggah album I'd probably go for Chaosphere, Destroy Erase Improve or Nothing. Or contradictions collapse. Or catch-33. Or ko....
    Out of those albums, Nothing is what changed the name of the game for Meshuggah. Obzen is my personal choice, because that's how I got into that band.
    Mastodon - Crack The Skye
    I have to agree, Crack The Skye is their best, and a really great prog metal album
    Crack the Skye was my first real introduction to Mastodon. Great album.
    This is one of my top 5 albums of all time. I can listen to it all day and never get sick of it. So damn good.
    I don't know how in terms of prog metal you can compare this to Cynic or Coroner or Fates Warning or later Death albums
    Absolutely yes. There is nothing bad about that album. The only bad part is how I accidentally hit the down vote when I was trying to up vote. My bad.
    Rush - 2112. Although some people want to be finicky and label it as prog ROCK (FU guys), it should qualify. Not only the best progressive album I have ever heard, but one of the greatest albums in general. Geddy isn't just singing to showcase his high range like some singers do. He is crooning with PASSION, which is what separates this amazing album from most other albums
    Agree. People Say 2112 is a prog rock album. It's metal. This album deserves to be on the list.
    Not to travislausch your wrong. To Kmitchell74, I can agree it's one of the greatest albums of all time in general. Who doesn't like 2112.
    I love that album but really? It's rock
    Face R1pper
    Please explain to us why Rush is not metal and Dream Theater is.
    Agent 00Awesome
    Because of Train of Thought, and songs like The Mirror, Lie, Constant Motion, and Dark Eternal Night. That's why.
    rush is my favorite band but dream theatre is metal simply because thy have a heavy pacy sound, not saying rush has no songs that sound that way but you see it way more from actual metal classified bands, rush is classic hard prog rock
    I'd consider 2112 "proto-prog-metal", if that's a thing. Same with Wetton-era King Crimson (they've even pretty much turned into a full-on prog-metal band themselves). But in terms of the "modern prog-metal sound"? Not really. And to be honest, I hate "2112". I love Rush, but people flock behind that album like it's some kind of godlike thing. Pretty much every other Rush epic is better, and the rest of the album is kinda ehn. Only a couple of decent non-2112 tracks. If you're gonna pick a Rush album for prog-metal greatness, A Farewell To Kings or Hemispheres would have been a much more logical choice.
    21st century schizoid man is arguably the first prog metal song, astounding considering it pre-dates sabbath.
    Fear Of A Blank Planet - Porcupine Tree Since Tool has been mentioned enough, I might as well go with a personal favorite that I haven't seen here yet
    I wanted to give mention to Grace for Drowning, but Steven Wilson and Porcupine Tree... If I recall Steven Wilson himself said he's not much a fan of metal. I have a hard time attributing his music to something thats progressive metal more than progressive rock or psychaedelic.
    Rush - 2112 I know it's not metal, but it's one of the most important albums to create progressive heavy rock as a genre. No progressive band before was as heavy (ELP, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes...). Rush took it to another level!
    As In Absentia has already been mentioned, Porcupine Tree - Deadwing
    Animals as Leaders - Animals as Leaders
    I know that their self-titled album is considered to be better than Weightless, but for some unexplainable reason I'm a bigger fan of Weightless.
    As a metal fan, i enjoy the first album more, overall. as a musician, i prefer the second album. You can tell it wasnt just written by tosin, and it makes a lot of the tracks haved a lot of flavor to them and make the tracks stand out, i will say the live performances of the second album i prefer over the album. indecisive on the first album. but i specifically remember noticing that songs seemed heavier live, idunno. maybe its just me, i adore this band and cant wait for the next album
    Devin Townsend - Ocean Machine: Biomech
    noooo..... Devin Townsend - Deconstructed
    Nah I'm gonna go with Heavy As A Really Heavy Thing on this one. Doesn't get much better when it comes to music associated with Devin Townsend.
    I wouldn't really call anything from SYL "prog" though. And it's not a personal opinion, even Devy himself wanted to keep SYL's music "simple and stupid". He almost strictly adhered to "no solos, no weird meters, no weird song structures" for SYL, while really letting his musical freak flag fly as a solo artist. Mind you, SYL is amazing stuff.
    And The Perfect Element part I. I'm putting them in seperate comments in case some people like one and not the other!
    i thought its not on the list!!!!! that was hardcore scrolling to find it!!! .... i prefere the Operation LiveCrime cause the gave Breaking the Silence the final punch in that version rockmalbum ever made (imo)
    Protest the Hero - Kezia
    I'm glad I didn't have to be the one to add it
    I love Fortress and Scurrilous but imo Kezia is the best progressive album by the lads. Can't wait for Volition!!
    I'm surprised UG hasn't mentioned anything recent about Volition. PtH's facebook page has been revealing a lot lately..
    Coheed and Cambria-The Second Stage Turbine Blade May not be THE BEST prog metal album, but it should definitely be regarded as one of them...
    Coheed and cambria good apollo 1. Great album even if you aren't a fan
    I was torn between nominating either Good Apollo Vol. 1 or IKSSE:3, but I agree that Good Apollo 1 is better as an album though IKSSE:3 is my personal favorite.
    Coheed to me is more prog rock than metal but I won't argue with having them on this list. Great album start to finish!
    Guns N' Chains
    Agree with the both of you. Its a great album. Coheed are definitely more Prog rock than Prog metal but they do have some metalish songs. Either way, this album definitely has some "metal moments" in it and I think it is worthy of this list.