A little note: this pic is for the creation of the atmosphere - so don't link it to any of the bands below. What are the best progressive metal albums of all time? That's what we asked Ultimate Guitar readers this week. It seems progressive metal is something of a speciality for our readers, because their nominations were excellent and the final list certainly tickles the tastebuds of many at UG towers. So what are the results? Read on and press play for a playlist which will leave your brain in knots.
10. Coheed and Cambria "Good Apollo I'm Burning Star IV Vol. One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness"
Not to set an indulgent precedent for a top 10 like this, but this album is supposed to be the first disc of the forth section of a projected tetralogy. Whatever that means (answers in the comments, please!). Stick with me: it's all about Claudio's quest to protect the Keywork, and the so-called Monstar virus. If that doesn't make sense, maybe it's worth getting the accompanying graphic novel.
9. Periphery "Periphery II: This Time It's Personal"
Periphery's first album caught the ear of several other prog guitar legends, thanks to their inventive and aggressive new style of prog metal, with guest solos from the likes of Guthrie Govan, John Petrucci and Wes Hauch. Not bad.
8. Meshuggah "Obzen"
The Swedish metal legends ditched the drum software which had famously replaced their real drummer on the previous record. The grim character on the album cover is probably the scariest character to appear in a video ever, as seen in "Bleed" which is part of the playlist below. You might be surprised to know the bottom half of the model was a woman, because the artist couldn't find a man who could hold his legs in the lotus position.
7. Protest the Hero "Kezia"
"Kezia" sold only 500 copies in its first week, but proved so enjoyable that word quickly spread and it went on to sell thousands in the ensuing weeks. It tells a story from three perspectives: a priest executioner and the central female Kezia figure. Kezia's last words? Why, you'll have to listen to find out.
6. Porcupine Tree "In Absentia"
Unlike other album in this list, "In Absentia" isn't a traditional concept album but discusses some of the least savoury types of people in society. Band leader Steven Wilson reckons it's about "an absence in the soul" that causes people to be bad, and expresses that in fine detail here.
5. Between the Buried and Me "Colors"
"Colors" draws on genres as far-reaching as jazz, stadium rock and even bluegrass, with eight tracks that merge into one ongoing blissful audio masterpiece. Ultimate Guitar even named it album of the year in 2007, as did other metal legends like Mike Portnoy, so you know it must be good.
4. Dream Theater "Images and Words"
Dream Theater's most commercially successful album from 1992 is seen as a landmark in prog metal. It was James LaBrie's first album with the band - the start of a two-decade relationship which continues today. The album was a huge turning point in the band's career, and today they remain one of the biggest progressive bands of all time.
3. Opeth "Blackwater Park"
What happens when you bring Opeth, one of Sweden's best metal acts, together with Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson as producer? This album, that's what. Opeth fans were surprised by the change in their style, but few complained when the results sounded so damn good.
2. Tool "Lateralus"
The moment when Tool's production values shifted up a considerable gear, which made their stunning compositions shine like never before. Inspired by maths, the album supposedly contains a secret playlist based on the Fibonnacci sequence - but whichever order you play it, this album is special on a galactic level.
1. Mastodon "Crack the Skye"
There are two things to know about your chart-topping winner this week. One: it sounds incredible, from start to end. Two: the concept is absolutely barmy, in a good way. Here's a very brief quote from drummer Brann Dailor: "There is a paraplegic and the only way that he can go anywhere is if he astral travels. He goes out of his body, into outer space and a bit like Icarus, he goes too close to the sun, burning off the golden umbilical cord that is attached to his solar plexus." Yeah, it's awesome. Are you ready for it?
That's the end of our top 10 progressive metal albums list. Which is your favourite? Do you agree with the results? Let us know what you think in the comments, and hit 'like' to share it.