19. Camel – Mirage (1974)
I hate how criminally underrated Camel are. With such a strong discography, especially with their 70s output, it boggles my mind. Both Camel and Yes were dramatically important to me in my early music years. Songs like Freefall and The Doors-inspired Lady Fantasy are awesome in their own right. But the meat and potatoes of this album are sandwiched in-between. Supertwister, The White Rider, and Earthrise are all entrancing tracks and a prog fan’s delight.
18. Green Carnation – The Acoustic Verses (2006)
If there’s one album I’ve listened to the most, it’s Green Carnation’s The Acoustic Verses. The dark, progressive-acoustic tendencies are still something I haven’t heard on any other album. I listen to this album to feel “at home.” It’s simply a beautifully haunting album I that I love.
17. Steven Wilson – Hand. Cannot. Erase. (2015)
This touching, emotionally driven concept album blends both pop music and progressive rock together into a remarkably thought-provoking and honest piece of art. With guest vocalist Ninet Tayeb, Wilson evokes a wide assortment of feelings from the world he created. I appreciate the album for Wilson’s drive to not only to create it but for the new ground he broke with its release.
16. Iron Maiden – Powerslave (1984)
With some of the most memorable singles in the band’s catalogue (and arguably one of their worst songs from their 80s output – looking at you, Back in the Village), Powerslave is a monumental triumph. Featuring one of the band’s longest songs, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the album has everything in the heavy metal genre one would want: flashy solos, incredible riffs, imaginative lyrics, powerful choruses – the list goes on and on. Powerslave is just so much fun and Iron Maiden makes sure you feel it.
15. Frank Zappa – Waka/Jawaka (1972)
After getting pushed off the stage at a show in Germany, Zappa was confined to a wheelchair and couldn’t tour with a band. Instead, he went into writing orchestral arrangements, and holy smokes, I guess I love it more than Roxy & Elsewhere. With Waka/Jawaka, Zappa blends jazz fusion, progressive rock, and big band into some of the most elaborately strange, yet imaginative music of the man’s 70s output. Bookended with two awesome instrumentals, Waka/Jawaka is my go-to Zappa album because, well, I don’t know why! I just love it.
14. Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet (2007)
As one of the more modern concept albums on my list, Fear of a Blank Planet touches upon subjects which are still talked about today: society’s influence, drug use, mind-control, pharmaceuticals, depression, ADHD, and more. With the awesome musicians behind him, Steven Wilson knocks it out of the park with one of the most distinguished prog rock albums of the new millennium.
13. Celtic Frost – Monotheist (2006)
A widely celebrated return, Celtic Frost’s Monotheist was the band’s first album with Tom G. Warrior and Martin Eric Ain together since 1987’s Into the Pandemonium. The end result is not only one of the greatest returns in music, but one of the greatest extreme metal albums I’ve ever heard. There’s so much offered in this album, I could write about every track in great detail. Just listen to A Dying God Coming into Human Flesh and Domain of Decay.
12. Sólstafir – Svartir Sandar (2011)
I cannot explain how Sólstafir’s fourth album, Svartir Sandar got to be so impactful in my life, but it did, and I don’t even understand the lyrics! Featuring an intriguing mix of metal and rock music, the Icelandic band managed to impress me with their double-disc release. Perhaps it’s the sounds the band creates with e-bows, or the fact that each song somehow feels like I’m outside in an open field in Iceland – Svartir Sandar is just a raw show of talent with an arguably minimalistic approach.
11. Megadeth – Rust in Peace (1990)
Hands-down one of the most important thrash metal albums in existence, Rust in Peace was on repeat for a good three to four years of my life. Featuring some of the greatest guitar work imaginable, Megadeth absolutely took the world by storm with this unrelenting thrash-fest. Both Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman are mind-blowing on this album – especially in tracks Hangar 18, and a personal favourite, Tornado of Souls. Each spin of this album is like hearing it for the first time for me.
10. Savatage – Gutter Ballet (1989)
I didn’t know heavy metal could be so dramatic until Gutter Ballet graced my ears. With the raspy vocals of Jon Oliva and his brother, the untouchable Criss Oliva on guitar, Gutter Ballet is truly a masterpiece. The title track alone is worth the price of admission, but the album offers so much more. Catchy tunes like She’s in Love and Mentally Yours are standouts for Jon, but tracks like Of Rage and War and Silk and Steel show the awesome guitar work of Criss, a man still greatly missed in the world of music.