Weekly Question: Best Progressive Metal Bands?

Who is the best progressive metal band ever? Nominate and vote for a prog-tastic top 10 this week.

logo
Ultimate Guitar
26

Progressive metal is one of the most popular genres with Ultimate Guitar readers thanks to the relentless showcase of technical ability and moving music. But what progressive metal band is better than the rest? With the intellectual ambition of progressive rock and the might of heavy metal, the result is a huge sound which pushes real boundaries. This week's Wednesday Question is:

Who is the best progressive metal band ever?

There's so many great examples out there that we can't wait to see what you come up with. Do you love Tool or Dream Theater? Are you a fan of Sikth or Opeth? And most importantly, who do you love most? 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!

528 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Andyvie
    Mastodon, amazing. And of course (even if they're obvious) Dream Theater. Opeth also really deserves a spot.
    Funnyname99
    Didn't mastodon just get voted for best prog metal album this month? Apparently the Forum is going to show whether they think that was a one-off great, or if they really think Mastodon writes the best music. And if Dream Theatre get best band; why didn't the the UG community think they had the best albums?
    Kaon
    Band? Maybe Mastodon, but the best progressive metal musician (IMO) is Devin Townsend... the guy sings, plays guitar, writes great songs, is a mixing engineer, and on top of that, he's ****ing insane!
    MetallicaAnders
    Dream Theater, Tool, Protest the Hero, Opeth, Periphery, Between the Buried and Me, Mastodon
    sideslick
    Do people even realize that when they post more than one nomination in a comment that none of the votes count? It says "one nomination per comment" for a reason. These are great suggestions, but sadly, none of them will matter.
    Rajah
    Exactly! "Whatever you nominate, please post one per comment" Sadly, a lot of people on here are complete morons.
    Vandekill
    Periphery? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    joeyreece
    They do claim "progressive deathcore", guessing just because they're progressing towards deathcore but they're definitely not traditional deathcore (even though they have a fairly traditional sound). Think about it in the way most modern progressive rock bands use the term progressive
    Masta' Exploda'
    Periphery is a bit progressive because of their complex time signatures, and their orchestration.
    FUZION PREDATOR
    Periphery is a djent band, which is part of prog metal. Take a look at their tabs you'll see why it's prog, complex compositions, multiple guitars playing complete different things at the same time but still sounding interesting, odd time signature and orchestration like you said. I don't think that's even close to deathcore.
    mopmetallica
    Opeth... They're the only prog band that seem kind of exciting.
    third(-)eye
    The only PROG band that seems "kind of" exciting? Are you high? Like, chronically high???
    third(-)eye
    Oh wait, your username is a Metallica reference. Case closed.
    mopmetallica
    heheh... No, I'm just not much of a Prog fan but Ghost Reveries from Opeth is ****ing awesome and so is Blackwater Park.
    Second Rate
    Opeth waved goodbye to Metal a few albums ago. Other than that, why have none of you people mentioned Fates Warning, Queensryche, or Watchtower yet? Without them, there is no progressive metal.
    TheWhiteKeys101
    What the flying ****?? Waved goodbye to Metal? Go listen to Watershed again, if that shit is not metal I will gladly suck donkey balls. FFS blast beats in 'The Lotus Eater' and 'Heir Apparent' is heavy as ****!
    Second Rate
    ehh, no thanks. I heard enough of that album in 2008. Ghost Reveries marked the beginning of a protracted drop in musical quality for this band, and also a rapid flight away from heavy metal music that culminated in 2011's "Heritage." By the time "Watershed" was released, Opeth's connection to Metal was tenuous at best. The blast beats on "The Lotus Eater" do not undo the rest of the album, which sounds like an aging melo-death band having a midlife crisis and pretending to be some sort of second coming of early 1970s "Canterbury Scene" Progressive Rock. Or, to put it in terms you can more easily understand: Heavy as ****? FFS, go listen to "Heritage" again and get those lips on a pair of donkey testicles ASAP.
    SGofawesome
    Heritage isn't a metal album, no, but Ghost Reveries and Watershed are certainly classifiable as metal. Even if Heritage isn't a metal album, it's still a good album.
    djc707
    I disagree but your response is so well-worded that I'm not going to argue
    TheWhiteKeys101
    I didn't say 'Heritage' was heavy as ****, I said 'Heir Apparent' was heavy as ****. And if 'Ghost Reveries' marked the beginning of a drop in quality in your opinion, well, let's just agree to disagree 'cause imo GR is their masterpiece.
    john.agnez
    OPETH
    third(-)eye
    I like how even though Opeth was mentioned earlier in the comments, the one that mentioned them in ALL CAPS is the one that gets the medal. Hm.
    axld
    After Still Life, I don't think it's possible not to like Opeth
    Dead Eye Dick
    Easy, Tool.
    shwilly
    To me it's definitely Tool because imho they're the first band who showed that prog metal doesn't have to sound like the shred olympics
    Porcupine Tree have that quality about them as well but they're more like a Floyd-metal hybrid and Opeth is great too (although I don't like the older stuff as much) but to me it's gotta be Tool all the way
    siddyjain
    The Ocean. I don't know why they get so much hate for Heliocentric and Anthropocentric. I loved those albums. And their new album Pelagial is also the bomb.
    Priest_of_Judas
    Ayreon. Seriously. Arjen Lucassen needs to be somewhere on this list, preferably associated his main project.
    artificialcre
    Gotta go with Tool.....but mainly Aenema and Lateralus
    jpob
    Time for the tool fans to all start jacking-off
    thechef779
    by what logic? time for *band name* fans to start jacking off could be said about anyone on this list
    jpob
    That is true. But Tool fans are seriously the worst fan base I have ever seen or heard.
    SGofawesome
    I just have a hard time calling Tool metal. Fantastic band, one of my favorites, but it's hard to call them metal.
    Xolaeth1
    Pain of Salvation. Hell to the yes.
    azrael667
    Hell yes. Their pre-Road Salt catalogue is one of the best prog metal catalogues in my opinion. (I love Road Salt I + II as well, it just doesn't qualify as metal in my opinion).
    DOS-JSY
    Dream Theater Liquid Tension Experiment Opeth Gojira Mastodon Devin Townsend
    Krill3Z
    Opeth definitely! I don't know any other band that progresses that much and changes sound with (almost) each album, and if that's not a good prog band, then i don't know what is.
    Scratcher17
    Between the Buried and Me, Animals as Leaders, Opeth, Periphery, Mastodon, Devin Townsend,
    dragula15
    Pain of Salvation. See: The Perfect Element Part I
    zeroceid
    I only like Road Salt - I think its because he stopped trying to do that awful 'rapping' style of vocals
    Krill3Z
    Also... Don't forget Devin Townsend (Band/project/whatever) deserves to be in the top IMO.
    peppersghost08
    Dream Theater obviously, but id like to see Symphony X, Meshuggah and Devin Townsend, all progressive in their own ways without all sounding like DT clones
    henrihell
    Devin Townsend! Hell yes! This is list is not complete without him. Just one album is enough to grant him a top 5: Deconstruction
    samsta2
    Also Ziltoid the Omniscient Devin, Meshuggah and Ayreon are my faves
    livia.meneau
    Devin Townsend for sure, Opeth and Dreamtheatre are slightly too obvious and I have no doubt they`ll be in the top 5 at least. Would love to see Devin in there, and as Im on the subject, Id love to see him mentioned more in UG, not just comments he made on the latest Black Sabbath release, he`s way more relevant than that!
    baryss
    There are no Liquid Tension Experiment fan here? I think they deserve to be in Top 5 at least.
    dorpzot
    Haken, they might not be the best around but those guys really have a lot of potential to make it big.
    Darth Crow
    Dream Theater. Number one.
    shawnkenneth
    Oh come on! Why start off with the most predictable one?
    Darth Crow
    And why not? they were bound to pop up... why not put the most obvious band first?
    TheExterminator
    Because Dream Theater's music is little more than show-offy technical wank, and there are Progressive Metal bands out there that actually know how to write music?
    Nickpocalypse
    I take issue with this comment, on the grounds that it's objectively wrong.
    TheExterminator
    They were certainly better in their earlier albums, even if they were still inferior to bands like Psychotic Waltz and Fates Warning, but their more recent albums are just blatant "LOOK WHAT I CAN DO" wank. They're a band for people who think technical ability is of higher importance to music than song-writing is, hence why the only people who proclaim Dream Theater as the epitome of Progressive music are usually the same people whose knowledge of Progressive music begins and ends with Opeth, Tool, and Dream Theater.
    mop10893
    Forsaken is technical wank? Octavarium is technical wank? Wither? Beneath the Surface? Along For The Ride? Don't speak unless you know what you're talking about.
    crosskip
    Octavarium is brilliant, the rest of the songs you name are all shitty cheesy ballads
    Funnyname99
    Shhh, you're like a child in a boardroom, walking over to a giant shape in the corner and peeking under it's concealing cover... Exited, you scream, "there's an elephant in the room!" but no one wants to listen to you... They just want to believe Dream Theatre are good "because they're technically advanced". - I'm with you though, downvotes n all...
    Maiden95
    I really don't understand the hate for Dream Theater here. They are some of the most talented musicians you'll find and they helped progressive music (and eventually many of the other bands listed here)gain a huge fan base. Sure there are a number of bands who have surpassed them in terms of originality but I'd bet without DT the "prog landscape" would look totally different.
    Woffelz
    Definitely. Fantastic instrumentalists, they clearly know what they're doing and most importantly, they sound amazing.
    Jimjambanx
    Where's the love for Chaos Divine? These guys are like a cross between Mastodon and Dream Theater!
    Jimjambanx
    Where's the love for Chaos Divine? These guys are like a cross between Mastodon and Dream Theater!
    Jimjambanx
    Where's the love for Chaos Divine? These guys are like a cross between Mastodon and Dream Theater!
    Jimjambanx
    Where's the love for Chaos Divine? These guys are like a cross between Mastodon and Dream Theater!
    Jimjambanx
    Where's the love for Chaos Divine? These guys are like a cross between Mastodon and Dream Theater!
    Jimjambanx
    I swear I didn't post the same thing this many times, I posted it once, UG just glitched the **** out, now I'm gonna get hate for spam :C
    Jimjambanx
    Where's the love for Chaos Divine? These guys are like a cross between Mastodon and Dream Theater!
    Jimjambanx
    Where's the love for Chaos Divine? These guys are like a cross between Mastodon and Dream Theater!
    Jimjambanx
    Where's the love for Chaos Divine? These guys are like a cross between Mastodon and Dream Theater!
    nboyjn
    I'm gonna agree with you on this one, but didn't UG already hold this poll???
    margaret.reda.3
    I must give my thanks to Ashley, who posted here last week comment about system she uses to earn onlin℮... I've got my FIRST check total of $3550, pretty cool. I am so exicted, this is the first time I actually earned something. I am going to work even harder new and I can't wait for next week payment. You can try it for yourself> - W­W­W.F­­B4­­9.­­C­OM