49. Kreator – Endless Pain (1985)
Endless Pain is one of my favourite thrash metal albums. Although filled with muddy production, songs like Storm of the Beast and Cry War would lose their charm if polished. Fast and unrelenting, this album was one of the first thrash albums I heard that really knocked me out. Tormentor, Flag of Hate, Total Death: each song unique on their own and a whole lot of fun to listen to.
48. Riverside – Fear, Love and the Time Machine (2015)
Brilliantly sublime, Riverside’s Fear, Love and the Time Machine is a favourite for how it makes me feel. There’s a certain level of serenity that comes with the album which I find hard to find in others. It’s a progressive rock album at heart that comes bundled with ripe emotion and yet this unmistakably subtle calmness.
47. Symphony X – Paradise Lost (2007)
In Paradise Lost you find some of the greatest guitar riffs in the band’s career. With incredible speed and high on its epic scope, Paradise Lost is a ripping good time. From the onset, the blazing guitar work of Michael Romeo along with the raspy vocals of Russell Allen draw you right into the world they’ve created. The rest of the band showcase later on, but by the next song, Domination, Michael Lepond’s bass work will melt your ears and you’ll be hooked.
46. King Diamond – Them (1988)
If I could make a movie out of any album, it would be King Diamond’s Them. A gorgeously written and performed horror story, Them is everything I want from 80s horror movies in my music. While the King himself is an acquired taste, the musicianship is top-notch. Andy LaRocque’s guitar work is out of this world, not to mention the memorable drum fill from Mikkey Dee in Welcome Home, Them is a masterpiece. “From the first cup of tea to the last drop of blood.” I love it.
45. Motörhead – Overkill (1979)
From the title track to the final song, Overkill is one of the best heavy metal albums from the 70s. Filled with speed and aggression, each song tells a story from the amusingly charismatic Lemmy Kilmister. “Fast” Eddie Clarke and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor of course were the sound of Motörhead – with their raw, unrelenting force. Each song on this album is an A+ for me.
44. Aborted – Retrogore (2016)
There’s something about Retrogore which I absolutely love. On the musical side of things, it’s fast and invasive death metal. Lyrically, it’s a whole lot of fun. The tongue-in-cheek style of Aborted’s love story to classic horror films is something I didn’t know I wanted, nor something I didn’t realize I’d return to again and again.
43. Peter Gabriel – So (1986)
Finalizing this list, I found it weird to see the two albums Peter Gabriel’s So was sandwiched between. I digress. So is a truly a masterpiece in songwriting and musicianship. While appearing as a pop album, So oozes progressive rock through-and-through. I enjoyed every song on the album, but grew an even greater appreciation (especially with This is the Picture) when seeing it performed in its entirety a few years ago.
42. Gorguts – Obscura (1998)
Obscura was one of my first forays into death metal. It’s muddy, dissonant guitars – the howling from LeMay – admittedly, this was a tough album to absorb at first. Nowadays, I spin it regularly. Technical achievements aside, every song feels like a movement: an orchestral piece that just happens to be using death metal as the backdrop. Obscura is just a very engaging album.
41. Marillion – Fuck Everyone and Run (F.E.A.R.) (2016)
Their best album since Marbles – and arguably of their career – Marillion’s eighteenth studio album shows that the British band still has the best years ahead of them. F.E.A.R. is moody, depressive, open and honest – portraying the feelings of what the band felt in their country in present time. It’s non-apologetic and features beautiful arrangements. It’s so strongly written, I feel as if F.E.A.R. could be looked upon years later for historical context.
40. Opeth – My Arms, Your Hearse (1998)
I borrowed this CD from a friend in high school, not fully aware what I was getting into. Like Gorguts, I was just really getting to know death metal. I was already familiar with progressive metal, but hadn’t considered what the implications were of the two genres coming together. My Arms, Your Hearse showed me some marvellous endeavours with its back-and-forth changes from intense brutality to the calm and serene. Demon of the Fall, yo.